Published: December 29, 2020
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy The Benefit Shop
MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. – In its last sale of the year, The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc unloaded 874 lots on December 16 for the firm’s monthly premier offering titled the Red Carpet Auction.
The auction house’s founder and president, Pam Stone, reflected on 2020 with optimism and relief.
“We did have to close down the gallery for a while,” she said, referring to the business shutdowns in the first half of the year. “But everyone on our team really worked hard from home. Once we started back up again, we found there was a pickup in our bidding audience in the second half of the year. People are sitting at home and they’re finding ways to enjoy themselves. We’re glad because so many of the charities we support have had tough years, so we’re happy we can still support these nonprofits.”
The firm regularly holds three to four sales per month, but holds the very best for the Red Carpet Auction. Among these offerings were works on paper – etchings, lithographs and watercolors – that rose well above estimates as they sold to buyers around the world.
The sale’s top lot was a 10¾-by-12¾-inch etching by Edward Hopper (1882-1967) titled “House by the Railroad” that sold for $11,070. The painting it was based on was exhibited at MoMA in 1929-30 and was one of the first works to ever enter the museum’s collection. Curators believe its imagery represents the juxtaposition of a quiet Victorian home life with the raucous expansion of industry, represented by the train tracks that obscure its front porch.
At $6,765 was a lithograph portrait of Gertha Loew by Gustav Klimt (1862-1918). Gertha was the daughter of Anton Loew, a Viennese physician who ran a sanatorium beside his home. The original painting sold at Sotheby’s in 2015 for $39 million.
A signed “Figure With Bouquet” lithograph by Henri Matisse (1869-1954) went out at $5,535. The impression was pencil signed with the inscription “Hors de Commerce,” or not originally intended to be sold. A surreallist etching signed by Rene Magritte (1898-1967) titled “Les pommes masques” featuring two apples wearing masquerading masks sold for $3,383. The edition was numbered 27 of 150.
Two works from M.C. Escher (1898-1972) included a hexagonal fish vignette, editioned 31 of 75, that sold for $3,075. A lithograph of lizards in brown, crème, white and black sold for $2,460.
Eleven signed Chinese watercolors on paper were offered in the sale, most of them depicting animals. A work featuring a hawk with Chinese character stamp to the lower left sold for $4,160. It measured 36½ by 16¾ inches in frame. Four other similar works featuring hawks sold for $1,599, $1,408, $768 and $448.
On the strength of the prints in the sale, Stone said the prices reached were commensurate with the fact that they were “terrific examples of the different artists.”
“Whenever we get artwork of that caliber, we like to feature them in our Red Carpet Auction because they bring more robust bidding and eyeballs to that sale,” Stone said. “People are starting to recognize that we have these artworks. We have a great location with great donors and consignors that support our charitable endeavors. They like consigning to us because they know they get something for it and our commissions go to support charities.”
The Benefit Shop’s next sale is a January 6 Odds N Ends auction, followed by a January 13 Top Shelf auction, followed by a single-owner sale January 20-21, when the firm offers the estate of Janine Metz, the social secretary to the Duchess of Windsor.
For additional information, www.thebenefitshop.org or 914-864-0707.
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