Published: June 12, 2018
Review and Onsite Photos by Laura Beach
WINDSOR, CONN. – The rich are different, except for when they are not. That was the inescapable conclusion of Nadeau’s June 2 auction of residual property from the estate of David and Peggy Rockefeller. Christie’s auctioned the bulk of the estate for a landmark $833 million in May.
Nadeau’s successful single-owner sale, the first in the company’s history, featured an intriguing assortment of fine and decorative art, household furnishings and personal accessories accumulated by David, who died at home in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., in 2017 at 101, and his wife, Peggy. The banker and business executive was the son of John D. Rockefeller Jr and the noted collector Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. The Rockefeller family is closely associated with Colonial Williamsburg, the Museum of Modern Art and the Asia Society Museum, interests suggested by the slew at Nadeau’s.
“We are conservative in our estimates and thought the sale might do less,” said company founder Edwin Nadeau Jr, pleased with the 650-lot session that left estimates on many items in the dust.
Nadeau’s made a clean sweep of multiple properties in Westchester County, N.Y., and New York City, where the couple lived. Like ordinary folks, the Rockefellers appeared to have accumulated unwanted gifts, discarded souvenir art and serviceable but no longer fashionable furnishings for indoors and out. Sprinkled throughout the sale were more personal items – among them, architectural sketches for Rockefeller vacation houses, drawings and slides related to David’s important collection of beetles and a set of David’s golf clubs bearing tags from the Golden Horseshoe course at Colonial Williamsburg, where the Rockefellers had a home.
Most interesting was the worldly assortment of presentation silver – gifts to David Rockefeller from everyone from the Emperor of Japan to the director general of the Mexican financial services giant Bancomer – and a focused collection of modern and contemporary Japanese prints. The best prints were by Toko Shinoda, whose geometric abstractions suggest calligraphy in magnified detail.
Nadeau’s scored with the Rockefeller estate, and astute bidders made off with real prizes. Auctions like this one come around only occasionally. All in all, the sale made for great entertainment. As Heather Nadeau put it, “It’s amazing to see what things will bring with a provenance.”
Nadeau’s Auction Gallery is at 25 Meadow Road. For information, 860-246-2444 or www.nadeausauction.com.
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