Published: March 8, 2011
While the vast majority of the country bundled up in an attempt to fend off the lingering cold snap that Old Man Winter has served up this winter, spirited crowds and brisk sales transformed February’s Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antiques Show into a virtual heat wave. Buoyed by a healthy top-end market, top quality merchandise and facilitated by the show’s proactive promoters, the event was once again termed by management as a rousing success.
The show is promoted by the Palm Beach Group, and management has a reputation for getting the crowds out to their shows. Palm Beach was no exception and the group rolled out the red carpet for throngs of invited guests on Friday evening, February 18, for a gala preview party that has not only become a premier social event for locals, but also a prime buying opportunity for museum curators and serious collectors.
The four-day show, open through February 22, is the flagship event for the promoters, featuring 180 exhibitors. Dealers bring a wide range of merchandise that includes everything from Monet paintings to diamonds and jewelry that satisfies even the most discriminating tastes. Just how discriminating are those Palm Beach tastes? One clue comes via a glance around the show’s parking lot where there are more Bentley, Rolls Royce, Austin Martin and Ferrari automobiles than you can shake a stick at.
In just eight years, and with lots of regional competition, this show has distinguished itself, the cream easily rising to the top.
“The combination of the high-caliber dealers that participate in our show year after year and the magnificent collections they present to our guests is what we attribute to our success,” said Scott Diament, chief operating officer of the Palm Beach Show Group. “This is a show that truly offers something for every type of collector and every type of price range.”
Plush, white-carpeted floors add an air of elegance to the event †not only does it look wonderful, but it is easy on the feet †a necessary thing when patrons are expected to maneuver the expansive floor for hours on end.
While attendance numbers were not quantified in precise terms, management reported “tens of thousands savvy collectors, industry experts and serious buyers flocking to the Palm Beach Convention Center” for the show. Management noted “antiques industry icon” Ronald Bourgeault was in attendance. “I’ve never seen such crowds at an antiques show †the preview party was packed,” stated the New Hampshire auctioneer.
Celebrities and local wealth were prevalent at opening, but so were serious buyers. Maine dealer Tom Veilleux reported two impressive sales during the opening night festivities. A Jamie Wyeth ink and watercolor on paper, “Cushing Saw,” was stickered at $110,000 and sported a sold tag soon after the doors to the show opened. Selling to a local Palm Beach collector, the 18-by-25-inch painting will be included in the Brandywine museum’s Jamie Wyeth exhibition in June.
Hyannis, Mass., nautical dealer Hyland Granby also reported a good showing in Palm Beach. From the stand in the front corner of the exhibition hall, the dealer offered a wide variety of materials ranging from ship portraits to early marine-related carvings. Among the early sales was a large carved and gilded eagle by William Seward, circa 1895. Granby related that Seward was a ship carver that worked in Baltimore and was known to have carved stern boards, although this particular carving was believed to have hung in a public building. Marked $250,000, the eagle was signed on the reverse with deep etched lettering, “W Seward.”
A number of paintings also sold from the walls of Hyland Granby’s booth, including a work by James E. Buttersworth titled “New York Yacht Club Race.” Other sales included a miniature wagon with folk art ads from a New York brewery, circa 1880; a scrimshaw whale’s tooth featuring a female pirate; and a second carved wooden eagle. Referring to the large eagle, dealer Alan Granby commented, “I could have sold it three times †I wish I had three of them.”
York County, Penn., dealer Jeff Bridgman, known for his important selection of American flags, offered what he termed to be the best historical flag, extremely rare and important, the flag of General Philip Henry Sheridan, circa 1862. Bridgman listed the flag among his sales, along with “two great Civil War flags, a wonderfully carved eagle dating to the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century that came out of a federal courthouse in Columbus, Ohio, and a pair of beaded, doe-skin American Indian moccasins with a circular American flag decoration, circa 1880.”
Tenafly, N.J., dealer Michael Borghi displayed an assortment of paintings that ranged from works by Richard Pousette-Dart, boldly displayed on the front exterior walls of the stand, to paintings and watercolors by Alexander Calder, Hans Hofmann and Norman Bluhm. Borghi reported the sale of a Bluhm watercolor from 1957, along with an important Hans Hofmann painting titled “Blue Symphony” that the dealer had priced at $165,000.
Two interesting paintings by Emile Munier were featured at Rehs Galleries, New York City. Munier’s “Feeding the Rabbits,” was marked at $250,000, and displayed alongside of it was a charming scene depicting two cherubs that was titled “Armistice” and was marked “price on request.”
“Crowds have been great,” said New Orleans dealer Bill Rau, M.S. Rau Antiques. “We’ve been as busy as we can be and sold a selection of art, silver and jewelry to collectors from around the world.” The dealers offered a stunning selection of artworks that included a Monet and a Manet, as well as iconic American works, such as Norman Rockwell’s “Two Men Reading Detective Stories,” and Gil Elvgren’s pinup art painting “Gentlemen Prefer&•
There is a considerable amount of jewelry on the floor of the show and it ranges from the glitzy and wearable, to pieces bound for museum collections.
Camilla Dietz Bergeron sold several important pieces of jewelry, including a Van Cleef & Arpels invisibly set sapphire and diamond brooch, a pair of Verdura earrings and a Verdura broach, a pair of Aldo Cipullo earrings, a Buccellati sapphire and diamond cuff and a monumental pair of antique diamond drop earrings.
Las Vegas and Manhattan jewelry dealer Fred Leighton was on hand for the show and the seductive selection kept a crowd of shoppers in front of the booth at all times. Manned by a smart-looking staff, owner Ralph Esmerian was not seen behind the counter at preview.
New York City dealers Macklowe Gallery reported the sale of a “significant collection of Art Nouveau jewelry” that was bought up by one collector.
Museum quality was the term dealer Bill Drucker used for a rare and stylish hair comb of sterling and semiprecious colored stones that had been designed by Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hüde for Georg Jensen. Among several pieces of Jensen jewelry in the booth, the Mount Kisco dealers also offered a stunning selection of Jensen silver, including an exceedingly rare figural lamp designed by Johan Rohde in 1920, number 382, that retained a custom green silk shade. Other standouts from the Jensen silver included a samovar, a candelabra designed by Harald Nielson and a rare covered bonbonniere from 1926.
Other sales reported from around the floor included a makassar ebony buffet with nickeled hardware and a marble top by French maker Maurice Rinck, circa 1930, at Valerio Antiques; Audubon prints at Graham Arader; a collection of original art watercolor children’s book illustrations at Carlson and Stevenson; a Nineteenth Century silver tray by London maker Ben Smith at Robert Lloyd; and a dramatic Albert Paley hand-forged steel stand at Lillian Nassau.
Also popular was the show’s lecture series that featured Gloria Lieberman of Skinner jewelry department; Tom Gregersen, cultural director of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens; and Gordon Lewis, senior director and vice president of the Fine Arts Conservancy. Among the dealers presenting lectures were Janet Drucker, Robert Lloyd and Elias Martin of Floating World Gallery.
The next show for the Palm Beach Group will be the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show scheduled for August 25′8. For information, 561-822-5440 or www.palmbeachshow.com .
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