Published: March 31, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Stair Gallery & Restoration
HUDSON, N.Y. – If you have to wear gloves, they might as well be white. Such was the impression one gets when we consider the results Stair Galleries achieved when it offered nearly 1,000 lots from the Mario Buatta estate March 13-14. Coming nearly two months after the Buatta collection triumphed at Sotheby’s, the auction at Stair could hardly have done better, with buyers taking all 989 lots offered. It realized a cumulative total that, including the buyer’s premium, was “just a hair under” $2 million, more than doubled the highest aggregate estimates of $480,000/730,000. Bidders hailed from about 30 states and half a dozen countries, with approximately 60 percent of the sale selling to online buyers, 20 percent to phone bidders, 15 percent of lots to absentee bids and the remaining items to bidders who attended in person.
Private collectors, decorators and architects purchased most of the sale, with nominal activity coming from the trade. Items were on exhibition for two weeks and lectures and receptions were organized to court potential buyers. “We threw everything at this,” Colin Stair said. “It was the best-looking exhibition we’ve ever had.” The sale resulted in about 3,500 registered bidders, about 500 of which had never bid or bought at Stair before.
“I couldn’t be happier with the results; on the eve of the crisis we are in today. It was truly staggering results selling for almost four times the high estimate, including buyer’s premium. The attendance was amazing and it really made the difference. As I look across the data, at least half of the buyers saw the things in person! Thank the heavens for LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable and Bidsquare; they delivered thousands of bids over the two days. But my savvy staff coaxed many of the highest bids from our telephones,” Stair said, speaking by phone the week after the sale.
Emily Evans Erdmans, representing the executor of Buatta’s estate, said, “During the week that led up to the sale, it seemed like the sky was falling down with the stock market plunging and the uncertainty of what Covid-19 would bring. The results were truly remarkable! Colin and his team kept calm and carried on beautifully and hopefully these pieces from Mario’s collection, which brought him so much comfort and delight, will bring the same to their new owners.”
Stair will offer “The Porcelain Collection of Mario Buatta” on April 23. On April 24, “Objects, Treasures & Trifles,” which Stair describes as “very beautiful objects, tea caddies, treen, small mirrors, toleware, trays, etc.”
All prices include buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Stair Galleries is at 549 Warren Street. For information, www.stairgalleries.com or 518-751-1000.
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