While the merchandise was not exactly falling out of the sky, as it appeared to be on the witty cover of Millea Bros Fall Estates Auction catalog, there were plenty of great items that landed in the exhibition area for their two-day sale October 27 and 29. The highly successful auction weekend began with their newest series of sales, an ABC (attic/basement/closet) auction on Friday, and finished up with a more refined assortment of merchandise on Sunday.
The auction, featuring more than 1,000 lots, grossed an impressive $1.2 million, a record gross price realized for the Millea brothers, Michael and Mark, who are now in their third year of conducting their own sales. Large crowds were on hand for both days of the auction, telephone bidding was at an all-time high, as was the number of eBay bidders who successfully purchased nearly 20 percent of the items sold.
“This is the second ABC sale that we have had,” stated Mark Millea, “and they have worked out very well.” The auctioneer explained that there just was not room for a lot of the under $500 lots in their regular auctions, so the ABC auction was born. “We had this stuff in storage and more and more would accumulate every time we took in an estate. They are all good things, but they just didn’t fit into our regular estates auctions. So we decided to move to the two-day format and clear some of it out,” he said. “The first criteria,” he said while compiling the merchandise for the ABC sale was “is this something that I would want.” Apparently the brothers have good taste as the auction has been very well received with many of the “single objects and box lots from $30 to $300” selling well above estimates.
Included in the most recent auction was a Chinese stone inlaid lacquer panel that sold for $1,150, a set of 12 Mexican silver shrimp cups $862, two Hermes leather cases $920, a Camusso silver tray $977, a hand signed Marc Chagall first day cover $862, and a Continental neoclassical style table at $2,185. Sleepers in the sale included a Continental giltwood wall mirror that slipped through the cracks at $23, and a vintage lady’s mink coat at $50.
Things got serious for the second session and the action seen on the very first lot offered early Sunday morning became a tell-tale marker of things to come. A Chinese cloisonné and brass jardinière in a rectangular form with engraved floral decoration carried a modest $200/300 presale estimate, yet presale interest indicated that it would do much better. With action from the telephones and the floor, the bidding took off at a brisk pace with the lot hammering down at $6,900. A Chinese bamboo carving depicting two figures and a peach tree was offered moments later and it too would soar past the $500/700 estimates to bring $4,600.
The real excitement of the day came as a signed Charles Winckelson Louis XVI style bronze mounted cabinet with marble top and Japanese lacquer painted door was offered. Estimated at $12/18,000, the lot had been consigned from a Fifth Avenue home that overlooked Central Park. “A lot of the better French furniture came from the apartment,” stated Millea, “including a couple of the Linke pieces.”
Interest had started mounting for the Winckelson lot as soon as the first advertisement broke and by sale time nine phone bidders had registered and several serious players had made the trip to the gallery. Bidding opened at the low estimate and took off with the telephones dominating the action. It was not long before auctioneer Michael Millea was hammering the lot down to a phone bidder at $70,150.
“In some ways it is rarer than the Linke pieces,” stated Mark Millea of the cabinet. “Winckelson is lesser known” and the auctioneer attributed that to fewer pieces appearing on the market due to the limited volume that was produced. “I think the price realized was a reflection of its rarity,” he said, “although aesthetically it was just a very attractive piece of furniture.”
Francois Linke pieces in the auction, consigned from the same Manhattan apartment, included a signed Louis XVI style bronze mounted vitrine with a marble top and glazed door. The upper panel was painted by Vernis Martin and the case was supported by stylish cabriole legs. Another of the lots to handily exceed the estimates, the vitrine was knocked down at $20,700.
A Linke Louis XV/XVI transitional style marble top commode with a Martin paneled door signed E. Guilbert sold within estimates at $7,475.
A pair of Regency style chinoiserie cabinets with gilt bronze gallery over cupboard doors decorated with Chinese lacquered panels brought $16,100, a Louis XV style bronze mounted marble top commode made $13,800 and a pair of Napoleon III giltwood fauteuils a la reine sold at $9,487.
Paintings in the auction also fared well with a Felix Ziem oil on canvas depicting a Venetian canal scene attracting interest. Telephone bidding once again dominated the action with the lot selling to a phone bidder from Germany for $41,400.
A small beach scene with figures, oil on panel, 7 by 10 inches, that was signed Childe Hassam attracted substantial interest with it more than doubling estimates at $28,750. An Edouard Frere signed oil depicting children playing in a tree was another lot to do well, with it selling above estimates at $16,100.
A rare first state etching by James McNeil Whistler titled “The Barrow, Brussels” was pencil signed and it sold for $11,500, while an Antoine Blanchard oil on canvas titled “Paris, la Madeleine sous la Neige” realized $8,625.
Bonzes in the auction included Egyptian figure of the Horus falcon that was knocked down at $14,950, while a Mathurin Moreau sculpture of a water nymph went to a London buyer at $10,062.
A large selection of Baccarat chandeliers were offered with a gilt bronze and colorless crystal 12-light example selling at $9,775, a gilt bronze and crystal basket chandelier brought $8,050, and a large Baccarat eight-light chandelier fashioned in the style of Louis XV realized $7,662.
Other items of interest included a Rolex stainless steel chronograph wristwatch, circa 1955, that doubled estimates at $24,725, a large 196-piece Tiffany flatware service in the English King pattern was knocked down at $21,275, and a Steinway baby grand piano with a walnut case brought $18,400.
A 76-piece gilt and cut crystal stemware sold at $12,650, while a baluster form Chinese yellow ground porcelain vase with floral decoration brought $4,600.
Prices realized include the buyer’s premium charged. For further information contact Millea Bros, Two Green Village Road, Madison NJ 07940; 973-377-1500 or www.milleabros.com.