Published: September 22, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Sarasota Estate Auction
SARASOTA, FLA. – It is not often that the first lot of an auction raises the roof for the sale, but when it does, it makes a statement. That was the case at Sarasota Estate Auctions on Sunday, September 13, when a full-length life-sized portrait of George Gordon (1592-1649), 2nd Marquess of Huntley, attributed to Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, 1599-1641), sold for $45,200, the highest price in the sale.
The story behind the sale only adds to the price it achieved. The seller was a retired doctor who had acquired the painting in the 1970s. It was purchased by a descendant of the sitter, Alastair Granville Gordon, Earl of Aboyne and son of the 13th Marquess of Huntley. The earl faced competition for the painting from bidders online, on the phones and ones that had left absentee bids. According to Andrew Ford, owner of Sarasota Estate Auction, bidders included an institution, an Old Master paintings dealer in New York City and a collector bidding from Indonesia. In the end, however, Gordon prevailed and the painting will be making a homecoming to Aboyne Castle in Huntley, Scotland, where it will be mounted on the wall next to some of the family’s other portraits. “It is indeed a great pleasure to have this wonderful historic piece return to its ancestors and home,” Ford said. “The earl is very pleased the painting will be returning to Scotland.”
The painting was just the tip of the iceberg for a sale of more than 800 lots that brought in nearly $500,000, with more than 91 percent of lots selling. The sale was conducted on five internet platforms: LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable, Saleroom, EpaiLive and Bidsquare and courted buyers from more than 25 countries.
“We had more online registrations for this sale than we’ve probably ever had, literally thousands of people,” Ford said, reached on his cell phone a couple of days after the sale. “We’re seeing a real spike in off-premise sales. Even when we were towards the end of the sale, with less than 100 lots left, we still had more than 150 people watching and bidding. Our global reach has really increased.”
Sarasota was selling the collection of Francesco Gittardi, who had worked for Gucci from the 1960s through the 1980s. Nearly 60 lots from Gittardi’s collection crossed the block and included jewelry, decorative objects, couture and men’s accessories. Bringing the most and selling for $18,300 was an 18K gold necklace made exclusively for Gucci International by Sisti Jewelers in Milan around 1972. Gittardi had purchased the necklace for his wife and it was one of only six examples made. Among other notable pieces from Gittardi’s collection include a solid amber cane that had been owned by Gucci’s founder, Guccio Gucci. The Gucci Museum in Florence, Italy, acquired the cane for $7,500.
Another cane – one made from whalebone and mother-of-pearl – had connections to the Ashley family of New Bedford and inspired considerable competition before selling to a New England trade buyer for $1,900.
The works of Syd Solomon (American, 1917-2004) are enjoying a moment right now. Not only has Saratoga Estate Auctions sold several in recent months but the Ringling Museum in Sarasota is currently showing a large group of his works. “He’s on the tips of everyone’s tongues now,” Ford said. “His works are really taking off.” The artist had five paintings in Sarasota’s sale, led by “Lightride,” which finished at $11,285. His other works brought prices ranging from $4,880 to $10,675 for other oils and $1,464 for a watercolor.
Among decorative arts, a pair of palace-sized Chinese cloisonné and jade censors brought $9,760, a three-piece Egyptian Revival bronze and marble clock garniture ticked down to $5,185 and a Louis XV-style marble top and ormolu mounted kingwood and tulipwood veneered bombe commode, circa 1900, finished at $2,562.
Sarasota Estate Auction’s next sale is scheduled for November 15. Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Sarasota Estate Auction is at 522 South Pineapple Avenue. For information, www.sarasotaestateauction.com or 941-359-8700.
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