Published: August 24, 2010
Call it a “cleanout” or “moving” sale, but August is a great month for such events in Westchester County, and Clarke Auction Gallery tapped into that sensibility when it hosted its moving sale on August 14 at its 20 North Avenue saleroom. Up for grabs was the firm’s 11 years’ accumulation from storage rooms, the hundreds of pieces of art, antiques, porcelains, toys, rugs, lighting, furniture and jewelry that may have passed †or were never paid for †at previous auctions, much of it gathered up into box lots. There were few individual lot numbers, no catalog, no reserves, no phone or Internet bidding. It was pure Ron Clarke and the crowd that had assembled inside the auction hall.
Formerly known as C&C Auctions, Clarke Auction Gallery was started in 1998 and is owned and operated by Ronan Clarke, an Irishman who came to New York City in 1988 via London. With alacrity, Clarke advanced from being a picker to owning two retail antiques stores and All Boro Estate Liquidators and opening his own auction gallery, which quickly became “Westchester’s premier” auction facility.
Now Clarke is relocating to a new facility at 2372 Boston Post Road in Larchmont. He conducted a “preseason opening” sale there on August 23, but is planning a splashier grand opening event on September 12 and 13. The move marks another advancement for the entrepreneurial auctioneer. For one thing, the new venue is a purchase rather than a lease, and Clarke has invested a significant amount of money in “rescuing” the building with its 20-foot-high ceilings and cavernous main gallery. Along with upgrades such as new bronze doors, flooring and a new sprinkler system, the new gallery has more storage, two bathrooms, 12 dedicated parking spaces and legal street parking on Boston Post Road.
“Ron made a great business out of this facility, despite its handicaps,” said Tom Curran, as he prepared to display fine art lots for the moving sale. Curran pointed out the nooks and crannies, posts and pillars in the saleroom, which made for convenient spots to hang small paintings and objects but hindered sightlines during the actual auctions.
The parking lot outside the North Avenue gallery only had two authorized spaces for customers, and there was only one bathroom.
Still, longtime patrons gushed about Clarke’s operation as they filed into the North Avenue auction hall one last time to peruse the pickings. “My mother and I have been coming here for many years,” said Pier Witek, a Larchmont resident. “It’s like coming to a museum, and Ron has turned it into a family atmosphere. I have found fabulous pieces here.” Witek added that while she is looking forward to attending auctions at the new facility, she has enjoyed the helpful informality she experienced, including “learning from the dealers about what’s hot, what’s a good investment †and it’s fun, it’s not just about the furniture.”
“It’s my favorite auction,” said Connecticut resident Michel Weinberg, who was eyeing a leather couch outside the gallery. “I’ve been to the last two auctions, and it’s one of the friendliest businesses I’ve seen. They are very helpful in making arrangements to deliver items, prices are good and they have a sense of humor.”
Examining a child-size table topped with illustrated tiles of animals, Riverdale, N.Y,. residents Audrey Van Zweeden and Marcia Pacheco praised the firm’s honest and helpful reputation. “They will let you know if something is not antique,” said Van Zweeden. Pacheco, who said she has been attending sales at the gallery for eight to nine years, recalled some good pieces she was able to score there, such as a great Victorian side-by-side.
On this Saturday, however, what little furniture items that were left had been placed outside next to the gallery’s entrance, and there was more of a laid-back attitude among patrons inside leisurely examining the contents of box lots †a box of clocks, one with various parts and original boxes of Lionel trains, a vintage Louis Vuitton briefcase and a faux alligator bag, model cars, glassware, porcelain, a Nazi helmet and a classic piece of 1950s ephemera in the form of a Folies Bergere souvenir booklet.
Accordingly, top lots in the sale were unremarkable in price †$660 for a World War II dagger and flag, $330 for a lot consisting of a leather horse collar, cows bells and antique skates, a Picasso poster for $200, a pair of Lucite chairs for $250, a book of stamps for $242 and a bronze clock, as is, for $154.
Adding to the cleanout bargains, the buyer’s premium for this sale was reduced from the normal 17½ percent to ten percent for cash and checks and 15 percent for credit cards. For more information, www.clarkeny.com or 914-833-8336.
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