Published: March 3, 2016
MONROVIA, Calif. – A Navajo second phase chief’s blanket and contemporary Western paintings stole the show at John Moran Auctioneers’ sale Feb 23.
While fine art highlights were numerous, the evening’s top-lot status went to an unassuming-looking second phase Navajo chief’s blanket (above), which was brought to the block with a $10/15,000 estimate. While the blanket had several condition issues, its red bands were dyed with desirable cochineal, and interest quietly built in the days before the sale. After the lot opened, telephone bidders slowly dropped out as the hammer price steadily climbed. In the end, an online buyer proved the victor of the bidding war, paying a stunning $90,000 for the blanket.
Modern and contemporary Western paintings and bronzes brought strong prices throughout the evening, with a number of the top lots hailing from the estate of Phoebe Hearst Cooke. A fine example from Wyoming painter Tucker Smith (b 1940) depicting a cowboy herding cattle in a rolling verdant landscape, titled “Gathering the Quarter Circle Five,” easily surpassed its $10,000 to $15,000 estimate. The painting (below) realized $26,400 (prices realized include Moran’s 20 percent buyer’s premium).
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