Published: August 29, 2006
A capacity crowd of nearly 1,000 buyers of western art filled the Grand Ballroom of the Reno Hilton Resort and Casino for the 20th Annual Coeur d’Alene Art Auction. In what has become the single largest event in the field of classic western art, prices soared from the opening gavel to the very end of the 276-lot 41/2 -hour sale, that reached a total of $27,397,040. By comparison, last year’s Coeur d’Alene Art Auction recorded $21 million.
This year’s sale carried an aggregate presale low estimate of $14 million against a high estimate of $22 million. Of this total, 55 percent of the items exceeded the high estimate, with 40 percent falling within estimate, and five percent selling below low estimate. Three items were “bought-in” representing a total sale of 99 percent. In all, twelve artists set world auction records.
Carl Rungius’ spectacular painting of Grizzly Bears in the Canadian Rockies, titled “The Family” began the record-breaking streak by soaring past its $300/500,000 estimate, as three bidders pushed it to $952,000. A 1973 20-by-30-inch watercolor by Donald Teague (1897–1991) titled “Appointment in Town” brought $168,000 ($40/60,000).
Works by modern masters Tom Lovell (1909–1997) and John Clymer (1907–1989) proved to be particularly strong, with Lovell’s “The Iron Shirt” selling for $420,000 ($150/250,000) and Clymer’s complex 24-by-40-inch painting “Arrival of the Trade Wagons, Rendezvous — 1830” selling for a record $616,000 ($200/300,000).
A non-Western painting by N.C. Wyeth, titled “Two Boys in a Punt” made a strong showing. The nostalgic 1915 scene of two boys picking water lilies in a Brandywine Valley landscape exceeded its $300/500,000 estimate as several bidders drove it to $896,000. The only Frederic Remington painting in the sale reconfirmed his position as one of the most important Western masters, as his 30-by-18-inch oil titled “An Apache” sold to an anonymous telephone bidder for $1,456,000 ($800/1,200,000).
Also of note was a rare, 1929, 36-by-44-inch oil by noted Mexican master Diego Rivera, titled “Vendedora de Flores en Xochimilco.” The brightly colored stylized work of a peasant flower-seller developed into a bidding battle in the audience before selling on the telephone for $1,232,000 ($800/1,200,000).
The market for contemporary western art continued its upward spiral, as two of the four lots by Howard Terpning broke the $1 million barrier, and the crowd broke into applause as his 1981 oil titled “Search for the Renegades” was knocked down for $1,456,000, against a presale estimate of $300/500,000. Martin Grelle also turned in a strong performance, with a 2005 oil titled “Calling it a Day,” which sold for $95,200 ($20/30,00), and “Blackfeet at Blacktail Ponds” for $257,600 ($60/90,000) respectively.
All prices given include a 12 percent buyer’s premium. For information, 208-772-9009 or www.cdaartauction.com.
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