Published: July 25, 2000
BEDFORD, N.Y. – Paul Marinucci and his wife, owners of Butterscotch Auction Gallery, knew something was afoot before their July 16 estate sale as they fielded many calls for one lot: a miniature folk art chest.
“People were asking us what the buyers’ premium would be above $50,000,” said Marinucci.
The early Nineteenth Century blanket or storage chest, probably made in New York State (“it was poplar,” Marinucci reported), possessed a tri-color ground – going from green to salmon to white – and was decorated with swag and flower pot motifs. Four floor bidders and one phone participant vied for the 12-inch-long, six-inch-deep lot, which packed a pricey punch for its diminutive size at $195,500.
Austerlitz, N.Y. Shaker dealer Robert Wilkins, Jr., present in the gallery, was the winner in one bid. Marinucci reported Wilkins purchased the piece on behalf of a client.
The lot opened on the floor at $1,000. “We opened it low,” said Marinucci. “We didn’t make a big deal about it – the trade made a bid deal about it. You couldn’t fantasize about a price like that for a folk art box. It’s a little accessory. It’s valuable because of its original paint untouched condition.”
A New York City woman consigned the chest. It had been a gift some 80 years ago from the woman’s mother, who purchased the piece in a junk shop. Marinucci told us that a “noted New York gallery” had attempted to buy the box before Butterscotch received it.
The auction, which attracted some 230 bidders to Butterscotch, totaled just over $500,000. Price quoted includes buyers premium. A full report of this sale will appear in a future issue of Antiques and The Arts Weekly.
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