Published: January 10, 2023
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Nadeau’s Auction Gallery
WINDSOR, CONN. – “It’s always our biggest day of the year, we save things for it. Overall, we’re very happy with it,” Ed Nadeau said, two days after Nadeau’s Auction Gallery gaveled down nearly 700 items in the firm’s Annual New Year’s Day sale. Despite a few passed lots, the sale made $2.675 million with more than 95 percent of lots finding new homes.
Nadeau said the sale took about 11 hours to sell but he was able to take a few breaks when his 11-year-old grandson, Gavin Nadeau, took the podium. “All four of my grandkids are actively learning the business. They all run the online bidding platforms – it’s very easy for them even being so young because tech is second nature for them! It’s great to know that Nadeau’s will continue through the generations and continue to grow with them.”
At the top of the sale, with a return of $75,000 against an estimate of $20/30,000, was a Jean-Claude Killy Rolex chronograph stainless steel wristwatch that had come to Nadeau with other watches from a collection rather than an estate. It was the top seller in a category of nearly 50 examples, mostly for men, by such makers as Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Girard Perregaux, Cartier, Tag Heuer, Jaeger Lecoultre and Tiffany. Following the Rolex in the category were two Patek Philippe 18K examples, one a yellow gold Grand Complications annual calendar wristwatch, model 5036 from 2006, which earned $37,200; the other was a white gold annual calendar automatic man’s wristwatch at $24,000, both above expectations.
What’s a New Year’s Day sale without a little jewelry? Nadeau’s offered nearly 300 examples, with the highest selling piece a platinum ring set with a 10.07-carat pear-shaped brilliant yellow diamond flanked by tapered baguette diamonds that was accompanied by a GIA certificate. The ring found a new home with a buyer who paid $69,000 for it, also ahead of expectations and the second highest result in the sale. Nadeau said the yellow color was what drove interest from bidders.
Other top sellers in the jewelry category were an Art Deco-style platinum diamond bracelet with convertible center section with one round diamond, with a total diamond weight of 27.24 carats; it came from the same seller who sold the 10.07-carat diamond ring. Expected to bring $15/25,000, bidders pushed it to $33,600, while a 3.01-carat round brilliant cut diamond in a platinum ring setting finished at $24,000.
Rolling out a third place finish at $57,000 was an Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976) hand-woven maguey fiber tapestry, numbered 48 from an edition of 100, which measured 73 by 98 inches. Nadeau said he thought it might be a record for the edition. The tapestry was one of nearly 100 lots being sold by a private New York City collection to benefit charitable foundations; other lots from the consignment included a Napoleon III mahogany and parcel-gilt harp by Erard that bidders played to $19,200, more than double its high estimate; a Baltic giltwood, gesso and cut-glass 18-light chandelier that lit up to $15,600; and the highest selling lot of furniture in the sale at $13,200, a pair of Louis XVI style gilt-bronze and marble gueridons.
Other furniture lots that out-performed expectations were a set of 20 George III-style gold and gray painted dining chairs for $7,200, a William IV-style mahogany and parcel-gilt triple pedestal extension dining table at $6,000, and a set of 10 Italian Baroque-style brass and wrought-iron curule-form side chairs with tapestry upholstery, gaveling down for $5,700.
The fine art category was comparatively small at just less than 100 lots, but it packed a big punch, with several lots finishing in the top-tier prices realized. “Florida Sky” by Emile Gruppe (American, 1896-1978), which depicted a colorful and somewhat turbulent landscape, earned a category high of $45,000, more than five times its high estimate. The painting was one of two works by the artist in the sale; his “Low Tide Rockport Motif One” surpassed its high estimate and brought $15,600.
Also bringing $45,000 was another landscape – Milton Avery’s (American, 1885-1965) “Rolling Hills” – which also finished ahead of expectations. Painted in 1960 and with provenance to a collection in Irvington, N.Y., the painting was accompanied by an authentication letter from the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation.
“Blossoming Flowers on Rivers Edge,” an oil on board by Matilda Browne (American, 1869-1947) set a new world auction record for the artist when it brought $42,000. The 11½-by-14-inch painting was signed and housed in a 1907 Carrig Rohane gilt frame.
Nine lots had provenance to various members of the Rockefeller family; all sold, with Roberto Montenegro’s (Mexico, 1885-1968) “Dia Dos Mortos (Prodigal Son, Day of the Dead)” bringing in a high price of $25,200. One of two works by the artist in the sale, and both with provenance to Nelson A. Rockefeller, was “Mexican Masks,” an oil on wood panel painting that finished at $7,200.
“Bish-Bash Falls,” by John Frederick Kensitt (American, 1816-1872), was done in oil on canvas and measured 20 by 14 inches; not only did it have provenance to Rodman C. Rockefeller but it had crossed the block at Sotheby’s New York on April 23, 1981. Estimated at $15/25,000, it just cleared the high estimate with a result of $25,200.
One of the biggest surprises of the day was a Persian enameled glass vase with molded handles and decoration that despite repairs and missing parts, went from an estimate of $200/400 to finish at $36,000. It had provenance to the New York City estate of Dr Vallo Benjamin, an Iranian neurosurgeon whose apartment remodeling had been documented by the New York Times in 1984. Nadeau said there had been some speculation that the vase might have had royal connections.
Another surprise result, which came late in the day while Gavin was presiding over the sale, was $22,800 for a set of 10 hand-painted Meissen plates that had been expected to sell between $400 and $800.
Eagle-eyed auction viewers would have expected to see a Tiffany stained glass window featuring an angel, which was heavily promoted prior to the auction. When we could not find it in the online catalog after the sale, we asked Nadeau if it had been withdrawn. He confirmed that it had been pulled pending the resolution of an ownership dispute. Antiques and The Arts Weekly hopes Nadeau’s gets the green light to sell it in the new year.
Nadeau Auction Gallery’s next sale will be a Midcentury Modern sale, on January 28.
Prices quoted include the minimum buyer’s premium but may not include additional bidding or payment surcharges. For additional information, www.nadeausauction.com or 860-246-2444.
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