Published: April 7, 2020
LARCHMONT, N.Y. – What a difference a month makes. Clarke Auction Gallery’s first two auctions of the year boasted good-sized attendance as usual, but its March 22 sale, which came two days after New York State governor Cuomo issued a stay-at-home order, saw online and phone bidding supplant in-house bidding.
One might think this might have negatively affected bidding, but if anything, the auction saw even more participation, as the auction grossed just over a million dollars and went off without a hitch. Offerings in the sale were strong across the board overall with a diverse selection of top draw goods.
While not billed as a designer auction, it was little surprise that leading the sale were designer names and renowned firms like Tiffany Studios, Gio Ponti, Rene Lalique, David Webb, Steinway and Bulgari.
“Even though the news was changing daily, almost hourly, in the days leading up to the auction, we were confident we could responsibly present an auction that would keep safe both our staff and anyone who came to preview,” said owner and auctioneer Ronan Clarke. “We made sure our online and phone bidding capabilities would run smoothly and allow for higher-than-usual capacity. And having an embarrassment of riches crossing the block from rare Tiffany lamps to works by listed artists and luxury accessories didn’t hurt either.”
The top two lots of the auction were fine Tiffany table lamps that came out of an important New York City collection. Earning $150,000 was a signed Lotus lamp, standing 26¼ inches tall. Following closely on its heels at $125,000 was a vivid Peony table lamp, having a 10-inch shade, that was used as an illustration on page 51 in Egon Neustadt’s renowned book on Tiffany lamps. Another standout among Tiffany lamps was a large and signed Tiffany Studios chandelier having a geometric pattern with piano border, 17 inches tall, that realized $25,000.
Driving across the auction block was a white 1959 Cadillac Series 62 Deville convertible that sold for $57,500, which was bought at RM Sotheby’s in 2008, but its new owner passed away shortly after and the car remained in a garage. It was recently consigned by the owner’s estate and driven a short ten miles to Clarke. Undoubtedly, its new owner will be only too happy to take this beauty out for many pleasant drives.
Fine art was an integral part of the auction with listed artists figuring prominently, including a Frank Stella offset lithograph, “Cipango,” 1972, signed and dated, that realized a healthy $6,250 and a Jim Dine (American, b 1935) mixed media self portrait from 1996, earning $7,500, which came from a New York City collection.
Several lots did well over their estimates, including a Seventeenth to Eighteenth Century oil on canvas laid to board, Continental school, portrait of a gentleman, estimated at $600/900 and went out at $7,500. A rare set of four copper Art Nouveau sconces, measuring 20 by 12 inches with signed Quezal art glass shades having great color, trumped the $1/1,500 estimate to realize $8,750.
Rene Lalique was well represented in the auction with a signed Grande Nue Bras Levés figure that went within estimate for $31,250, having frosted glass with wood base and from an important New York City collection, 24½ by 8 by 8 inches, including base. A signed opalescent “Bacchantes” vase, 9½ inches tall, sold within estimate for $9,375 and a signed “Camee” vase, 10 inches tall, went well over estimate at $7,500.
Asian art is always a large part of Clarke auctions and highlights in this sale were led by a pair of carved cinnabar “Dragon” incense stands that did well at $6,250. The Twentieth Century and Xiangji stands have square tops delicately carved with dragons among clouds above pierced waists and aprons, 35½ inches tall.
Midcentury Modern is one of those categories that are perennially popular and can be mixed and matched into nearly any type of decor. This auction featured two nice pieces by Gio Ponti (1891-1979): a pair of sculptural chests, Model 2129 Modern by Singer, 47 by 19 by 36½ inches, which brought $22,500; and a Gio Ponti Singer and Sons walnut credenza, circa 1955, 70 by 19 by 63 inches, going for $6,875.
Rounding out the auction were a Steinway & Sons Model B Piano serial #489132 that attained $18,750; a silver grouping of Continental objets d’art, including a German .935 silver hinged case; two Russian enamel-decorated salt cellars with matched spoons and an 18K yellow gold sewing kit, which far surpassed its $300/500 estimate to bring $6,875; and a sterling Tiffany & Co. Hampton flatware set, totaling 117.3 troy ounces, going for $9,375.
The jewelry category was led by a David Webb 18K gold, platinum and diamond statement ring with a central panel of round brilliant cut diamonds flanked by two tiers of round brilliant cut diamonds that attained $17,500. The ring came out of the familial estate of long-term founder and owner of the Buffalo Bills, Ralph Cookery Wilson Jr. Proceeds from the sale of this estate will benefit St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Other jewelry highlights included a Russian emerald, ruby, pearl and diamond bracelet set with alternating faceted rubies and emeralds that made $7,500. According to the consignor, this bracelet was brought back from Russia by her grandfather, a furrier who frequently traveled there and back. Also featured was a Bvlgari Serpenti Spiga 18K rose gold, diamond and white ceramic, tuboga-style snake watch that doubled its high estimate to bring $7,500. Like the Webb ring, this piece also came from the Wilson estate and sold to raise funds for the children’s hospitals.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
Clarke Auction Gallery is at 2372 Boston Post Road. For information, www.clarkeny.com or 914-833-8336.
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