Published: December 28, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Nye & Co.
BLOOMFIELD, N.J. – “It was a very unexpectedly good sale with a nice strong result going into the end of the year, which was fabulous,” noted John Nye when we called to talk to him about the results of Nye and Co.’s December Estates Treasures Auction December 15-16. Nearly 750 lots were offered with an overall total of about $660,000. While Nye said he was still tallying the numbers for 2021 sales, he said it had been “one of our best years.”
The top price in the sale – $27,675 – was shared by two distinctly different lots, underscoring Nye’s breadth and depth in a broad variety of categories. The first to achieve that result was Keith Haring’s “Subway” drawing that had been consigned to Nye by a private collector from the European Union who has consigned other works previously and is in the process of slowly deaccessioning his collection through the Bloomfield firm. The work, which measured 41½ by 28 inches, dated to 1982-84; it and had been given to the seller as a present in the early 1990s on the occasion of his 40th birthday. Unsurprisingly, it inspired considerable interest that, on sale day, translated to competition from bidders on the phones and online. The buyer was a private collector from the American Gulf Coast.
Interestingly, the second work to realize $27,675 immediately followed the Haring across the block. “The Fortuneteller” by Adolph Tidemond (Norwegian, 1814-1876) was from a New Jersey estate. Nye said the buyer – a gentleman in Norway – “knew everything about it. He didn’t elaborate but he knew the work, the subject matter. He was a motivated buyer and I’m very happy it’s going back to Norway.”
The best backstory came with a collection that yielded a pair of Shaker ladderback chairs with tilters that brought the sale’s second highest price of $24,600. Nye discovered the chairs in a Greenwich collection that was a varied mix of things, largely inherited pieces in a range of values. The homeowner showed Nye through the house and barn, where he discovered several things, including the chairs, which were in the client’s office and had a nice old dry surface.
“When I saw them, I said to him ‘I haven’t seen tilters in a good long time.’ He told me they had been in his family for a long time but that I could take them. I brought them in and hung them on the wall, Shaker style. People loved them and we had a lot of inquiries; some people came to see them.” Nye confirmed that the chairs sold to a private collector whose name was unfamiliar and possibly a new buyer for the firm.
The Greenwich collection also yielded a still life by Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, which brought $11,685 from a buyer in the greater New York City area. According to the catalog, the painting had been painted for Margie Bear of Montgomery, Ala., who then passed it on to her daughter, Mary Bear Norman. A dealer then sold it to the Greenwich collector. During its lifetime, the painting had been in a retrospective at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in 1974 and included in Zelda, An Illustrated Life, The Private World of Zelda Fitzgerald, which was published by Fitzgerald’s granddaughter, Eleanor Lanahan.
Other works from the Greenwich collection included an oil on canvas painting by John Stobart titled “Into the Gale Reefing the Main” with provenance to Kennedy Galleries that sold for $3,690 and a vintage labeled Goyard trunk that brought $5,228 from a collector from British Columbia.
If one wanted a fancier pair of chairs than the pair of Shakers chairs with their plain aesthetic, a pair of George III-style library armchairs was a good alternative. Nye said the heavily carved aprons and arm terminals carved with dog’s heads were reminiscent of mid-Eighteenth Century Irish furniture. A private collector near Albany, N.Y., took the pair to $13,530 from an estimate of $2/3,000.
Other lots of high-style furniture included a William and Mary seaweed marquetry tall case clock with a brass dial engraved Thomas Wheeler, London from the early Eighteenth Century that chimed out at $4,305 and a Federal inlaid mahogany tall clock from the Mid-Atlantic states, at $3,690.
Haring’s “Subway” drawing was not the only example of graffiti art on offer, or one that did well. “Mahogany” by Johnny “Crash” Matos brought $19,680, more than six times its high estimate. It was from of the collection of Stephen and Stephanie Alpert that Nye has been selling off throughout the year and one of nearly 125 lots in the sale that included other graffiti artworks, including Isaac “Cey” Adams’ 1982 oil on canvas “Graffiti” that achieved $3,998, and, for $1,845, “Wasp” by Nick Salsa.
The Alperts had a large collection of ceramics on offer, the presence of which benefitted other pottery pieces in the sale. Of note was a ceramic vessel by Claude Conover (American, 1907-1994) that stood 13½ inches high. It was previewed alongside the Alpert’s ceramic works and earned $5,843, just a few dollars shy of its high estimate. Other pottery successes included a pair of midcentury ceramic lions by Lisa Larson (Swedish, b 1931) that more than tripled high estimates at $3,383 and a 58-piece set of Wannopee lettuce leaf tablewares with corn, carrots and rabbit decoration for $2,214.
Nye is not going to the dogs, but a dog motif romped through the sale, largely led by a consignment from a New York City gentleman that featured dog paintings, dog-form jewelry, dog pillows, dog doorstops and ceramic dog figurines. One of the highlights from the Alpert collection was Lizbeth Stewart’s (American, 1948-2013) earthenware “Dog on a Bed of Roses” from 1987 that found a new home for $3,690.
The end of the year is a popular time to offer jewelry, which led the first day of sales. Nye said he was pleased with how the jewelry section performed. “There is a lot of competition at this time of the year, but we had solid results. We only passed a handful of pieces.”
Bringing the bling was a diamond and two ruby ring in a platinum setting that made $14,760, and an oval ring with cornflower blue sapphire surrounded by old mine-cut diamonds from an estate at $12,300. A Tiffany & Co., platinum, gold and diamond frog brooch hopped past its high estimate to a trade buyer, for $11,685. The piece was attributed to Tiffany designer Donald Chaflin and had descended in the family of Rosalind “Rosie the Riveter” P. Walter.
Nye & Company’s next sale will take place January 19-20.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.nyeandcompany.com or 973-984-6900.
November 29, 2022
November 29, 2022
November 29, 2022
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