Art News & Views

Auction Reports : What happened

Post Auctions


Portrait of George IV makes 16 times the estimate

April 8
A portrait of George IV (1762-1830) by the French miniaturist Louis-Bertin Parant made over 16 times its estimate to fetch £8,400. The 73mm miniature shows a profile of the King in Classical Guise, and the reverse is glazed to reveal a gold monogram HS within two locks of hair. A second portrait of George IV, when Prince of Wales and painted by Richard Cosway also fetched an impressive £7,800.

However, the top lot of the sales in the Fine Portrait Miniatures auction at Bonhams, Knightsbridge was a portrait miniature of Sir Pulteney Malcolm GCB GCMG (1768-1838), a Scottish Naval officer from Dumfriesshire, that sold for £12,000.

At just 10cm in height, the miniature depicts Sir Pulteney Malcolm who, on 24th August 1814, was third in command of a fleet which set fire to many public buildings in Washington D.C., including the White House. The attack was in retaliation for the American looting of York, Upper Canada (now Toronto) in 1813, which included the burning down of their Parliament buildings.

A second portrait miniature by George Engleheart depicting Malcolm's younger brother, Sir Charles Malcolm, who also served in the British Navy sold for £9,600.
The sale made £203,040 in total.

Mughal Hookah Bubbles Up £234,000 At Islamic & Indian Sale

April 15
A rare intact Mughal gilt-decorated glass hookah base from the first half of the 18th Century India created great excitement at Bonhams Islamic and Indian Sale when it sold for £234,000 against a pre-sale estimated £8,000 to £12,000. The sale made a final total of £1.6m. The 19.5cm tall gilded green glass bowl has a globular body and short cylindrical neck with a rib. It is decorated with a frieze of poppy plants alternating with cypress trees reserved in gilt. The known history of this hookah bowl starts with John Clough (1904-1947), a High Court Judge in Kolkata (there is a memorial to him in St Paul's Cathedral), an avid collector of Indian furniture and works of art. It passed down through the family to the present owner who was delighted with the unexpectedly high price at Bonhams. Bidri hookah bases of the first half of the 17th Century became the models for those made in jade, enamel, metal and glass in Mughal India. The influence was seen not only in shape, but also in decoration, which almost invariably incorporated floral of vegetal motifs. A common design was large flowering plants at intervals around the surface.

Another item that outperformed its pre-sale estimate was an illuminated Qur'an copied by Shaykh Hamdullah (b. circa 1436-37, d. 1520), from Ottoman Turkey, probably Constantinople, late 15th Century. It made £110,000 against an estimate of £40,000 to £60,000. This Arabic manuscript of 372 paper pages with 13 lines to the page was written in elegant naskhi script in black ink, with vowel points in black and red, and gold roundels between verses.

Finally an exquisite Safavid woven silk and gilt-metal-thread panel from 17th Century Persia, expected to sell for £15,000 to £20,000 went on to make £49,400. A small scrap of silk textile, no bigger than a hand towel, decorated with a series of repeated silver parrots perched on leafy branches amidst orange peonies and blue carnations on gold coloured ground it was part of a collection of Safavid textiles which sold for £152,400.

Ferris Bueller's Ferrari fetches fantastic price

April 19
A replica of the Ferrari 250GT Spyder California specially created for the 1986 Paramount hit film 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' sold at Bonhams Collectors' Motor Cars and Automobilia auction for £79,600 double its pre-sale estimate of £30,000-40,000. However, the top lot of the sale was a 1938 SS Jaguar 2½-litre Drophead Coupé which sold for an outstanding £100,500.

Despite current travel problems (due to the ash cloud disrupting flights to Europe), the sale was a great success and made £1,313,000 with the cars selling 93% by lot and 97% by value. There were a high number of telephone bids and some attendees showed great tenacity overcoming transport difficulties with one visitor driving all the way from Italy.

 There was a fierce bidding war for the Ferris Bueller Ferrari, with eight telephone bidders competing against others in the room. The car finally sold to an American buyer. Only around one hundred genuine 250GT Spyder California's were created by Ferrari between 1958 and 1963. Existing examples are very rare and expensive so Paramount chose to commission and build a replica for filming purposes.

A bright yellow 1936 Lotus Elite which won many racing victories beat its pre-sale estimate of £20,000-25,000 to fetch £44,950, while a c.2004 Suffolk Jaguar SS100 made £50,450 and a 1950 Morgan F Super Roadster sold for £23,575 far exceeding its estimate of £9,000-12,000.

Two Bentleys sold by a single owner were also highlights of the auction a 1962 Bentley S3 LWB Saloon and a 1997 Bentley Continental T Coupé making £43,300 and £65,300 respectively.


Asian Art Week fetches $60 million

March 23-26
Christie's concluded its Spring Asian Art Week with a combined total of $59,936,375 achieved over four days of sales. Featuring more than 1,000 lots, the sales drew record attendance during the previews and sales, indicating a surge of confidence among global collectors who continue to look for the best in Asian art.

Theow H. Tow, Deputy Chairman of Christie's Americas and Honorary Chairman of Christie's Asia, said: “Christie's sales totaled $60 million this week, the 2nd highest total for Asian Art Week at Christie's New York with a 73% market share and Chinese Works of Art totaled $40 million, the highest ever achieved at Christie's New York. Our totals show that the demand continues to be strong among worldwide collectors and reinforcing market confidence.”

Three decades of Irving Penn's photographs is a total sell-out

April 14-15
The most significant group of photographs of Irving Penn (1917-2009) to even come under the hammer in New York, fetched interesting results. The 67 photographs in the Collection were gifts from Irving Penn to Patricia McCabe, his trusted personal assistant for over thirty years. Highlights included Cuzco Children, 1948, estimate: $100,000-150,000, Poppy: Glowing Embers New York, 1968 estimate: $70,000-90,000, Two Guedras, Morocco, 1971 estimate: $40,000-60,000.

The sale totaled $3,851,250 and was 100% sold by lot, and by value. The top lot was 2 Guedras by Irving Penn which sold for $314,500, high above its estimate of $40,000-60,000.

Philippe Garner, International Head of Photographs, comments: “The result was a great tribute to (Penn's) talent. The personal significance of this work to Mr. Penn's longtime assistant, Patricia McCabe and its special provenance made this collection especially desirable.”

In another sale of photographs at Christies on April 15, highlights included Woman in Moroccan Palace (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), Marrakech, estimate: $300,000-500,000, Imogen Cunningham, Magnolia Blossom, estimate: $250,000-350,000, Paul Strand, Portrait, Rebecca, estimate: $250,000-350,000. Beside this, the Baio Collection of Photography included Eugène Atget, Joueur d'Orgue (Organ Grinder), estimate: $100,000-150,000, Massimo Vitali, Viareggio, estimate: $20,000-30,000, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Family, Mexico, estimate: $20,000-30,000. Selections from The Baio Collection of Photography Realized $1.4 Million.

Ottoman Quran tops Indian and Islamic Art and textile sale

April 15-16
The South Kensington sale of Indian and Islamic Works of Art and Textiles at Christie's sold 89% by value, though in terms of volume, it scored a shade moderate, at 68%. An Ottoman Qur'an signed Ramadan Bin Isma'il Min Talamith 'Abdullah Hamidallah, Turkey, dated 1667AD, went for £115,250 (estimate: £ 4,000-6,000). These were followed closely by two other 17th century Ottoman Quran sections, the first attributed to Hamadullah Turkey, which went for £ 34,850 (estimate: £ 500-700) and the second one signed by Hafiz Othman at £ 30,000 (estimate: £2,000-3,000). The total sale value was £1,039,538. Alice Bailey Head of Islamic and Indian Art, and Pat Frost, Head of Textiles said, “The sale got off to a flying start with the first lot from the collection of Manuscripts, Miniatures and Calligraphies of Djafar Ghazi, featured in both King Street and South Kensington sales, estimated at £4,000-6,000, reaching a thrilling £95,000. All top three prices came from this collection. There was keen bidding in the packed saleroom, on the internet and telephones, with medieval pottery and tiles selling strongly along with Indian works of art.”

Phillips de Pury

Mrs. Harry N. Abrams collection is a total sell-out

April 7
The Estate of Mrs. Harry N. Abrams sale totaled $6,051,912 selling 100% of the total 318 lots in New York. The much anticipated sale from The Estate of Mrs. Harry N. Abrams generated much excitement amongst global collectors, which culminated in a packed saleroom, an electric atmosphere and spectacular results. The sale offered a unique collection of 20th Century American and European art with a focus on Post-War and Pop Art from a range of significant artists, attracting over 1000 registered bidders.

“There was amazing energy throughout the sale. It demonstrates that the market loves nothing more than a group of works of great provenance assembled and collected with love over a number of decades. I am thrilled with the results and in particular with the amazing results for the works by Burliuk. In terms of auctioneering it was a record in itself being on the podium non-stop for seven hours and forty minutes,” said Simon de Pury, Chairman.

Edward Steichen, David Lachapelle achieve superb prices

April 16
The much anticipated Photographs sale totaled $3,470,675 in New York, selling 82% by value, with many of the sale's top lots surpassing their pre-sale estimates. The highest selling lot in the sale was Edward Steichen's 'Wheelbarrow with Flower Pots', France, a rare palladium and ferroprussiate print that sold for $194,500. Iconic works by master photographers fared very well, including Robert Mapplethorpe's 'Ken Moody and Robert Sherman' selling for $110,500 and Diane Arbus's 'Identical Twins, Roselle, NJ', selling for $98,500.

Contemporary photography sold equally well with David LaChapelle's 'Last Supper (Jesus is my Homeboy)', fetching $134,500, the second strongest result for the artist at auction. Other strong examples by contemporary photographs include Hiroshi Sugimoto's 'Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut', selling for $62,500; Vik Muniz's 'Venus and Cupid after Antonio Corregio' from Pictures of Junk, selling for $40,000; and Ruud Van Empel's 'Venus # 3' selling for $31,250.

Fashion photography proved its consistent appeal with Helmut Newton's 'Saddle II, Paris', selling for $86,500; Irving Penn's 'Cocoa dress (Balenciaga), Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, Paris', selling for $74,500; Louis Faurer's 'Bowing for the Vogue Collection, Paris', selling for $25,000; and Herb Ritts's 'Versace Dress, Back View, El Mirage', selling for $20,000. Vanessa Kramer, Director of New York Photographs department, commented, “We had a solid sale and are particularly pleased with the results of our higher value property. Our total value is higher than the previous season's, reflecting the growing confidence in the photographs market”.


April 23
Phillips de Pury & Company's BRIC Evening Sale totaled £4,135,150 / $6,351,590 selling 83% by value. “We are absolutely thrilled with this result. We see that interest for art from the BRIC countries is buoyant. Weare witnessing interest for these artists continue to grow in their home countries, but also amidst collectors from foreign countries. This is proof that a robust economy goes hand in hand with a booming cultural landscape.” Simon de Pury, Chairman. The highest of the lot sold include Entrance-No Entrance by Erik Bulatov, sold for $1,095,552. Among the Indian artists, Jitish Kallat's Untitled fetched $ 259,968 and T.V. Santosh's Enemies' Enemy II fetched $ 250,752.


Asian Art Spring sale at Hong Kong far exceeds estimates

The Contemporary Asian Art Spring Sale 2010 achieved a total of $18,569,679, far exceeding the high estimate ($16,342,214). Liu Ye's highly sought-after early work Bright Road fetched an impressive $2.45 million after a round of intense bidding, almost tripling its high estimate and achieving a World Record for the Artist at Auction.

Evelyn Lin, Head of Sotheby's Contemporary Asian Art department, discussing the sale said: "Tonight's sale demonstrated a strong return for blue chip Contemporary Chinese artists after a period of adjustment in which we experienced constricted supply. There is no question that these results show pent-up demand for great art. We set a world auction record for Liu Ye, and there was heated competition for top tier talents such as Cai Guo-Qiang, Yue Minjun, Zeng Fanzhi, Wang Guangyi and Fang Lijun. Bidding came from all over the world -- China, Indonesia, Korea, Europe, the United States and Taiwan.”

Photograph sale beats high estimate

April 13
Photographs sale at Sotheby's New York raised $5,081,265 beating the high estimate. The highlight of the sale was Edward Weston's Nautilus from1927 which sold for $1,082,500, well above the estimate of $300/500,000, the Photograph was printed in 1927, the year it was taken, and has been in the same family collection for the past 80 years.

Denise Bethel, Head of Sotheby's Photographs Department said: “We are thrilled with the stellar results of today's sale, which show that the market for photography is strong across all categories, from the 19th century to the 21st. The prices we achieved for Edward Weston's Nautilus, at $1.08 million, and the Moholy-Nagy Photogram, at $290,500, show the resiliency of the photographs market for the very best material. The outstanding price for the Nautilus makes Sotheby's the only auction house to have sold six classic photographs for over $1 million each.”

Tipu Sultan's sword fetches more than 5 million Pounds

April 14
A rare 200-year-old sword belonging to Tipu Sultan, the former ruler of Mysore was auctioned at the biannual Arts of the Islamic World sale, at 505,250 pounds, far exceeding the pre-sale estimate of 50,000-70 ,000 pounds. The Tipu Sultan Collection, comprised seven lots, included weaponry and other rarities captured after the British stormed the emperor's palace in Srinrangapatnam in Mysore in 1799. This is another sword personally belonging to the Sultan, as is evident by the tiger-form hilt and not to be confused with the one bought by liquor baron Dr. Vijay Mallya in May 2003.

Watches achieve $3,546,642

April 19
The sale of Important Watches at Sotheby's brought $3,546,642, within the presale estimate of $3/4.3 million. The sale was 80.8% sold by lot and 86.8% sold by value.  Aaron Rich, Sotheby's Head of Watches in New York, commented, “Once again we saw spirited online bidding, with 17% of lots sold purchased by online buyers, representing over $425,000 worth of pieces, or over 12% of our sale total by value.  Bidding and buying were very strong from North America and Asia, with half of the buyers of our top ten lots coming from Asia and a strong presence from Indonesia and Southeast Asia. We also saw strong competition from private clients, who represented nine of the top ten buyers. We were especially pleased with the performance of our cover lot, Piguet & Meylan's 'The Allegory of Spring,' an enamel musical watch made for the Chinese Market in excellent condition, which was purchased by a Swiss museum for $254,500, more than four times the high estimate of $60,000. We had great attention on our modern wristwatches, and vintage Patek Philippe watches continued to perform beyond our expectations.”
See page 64 also

Saffron Art

Emerald and Diamond necklace tops lot

April 7-8
An emerald and diamond necklace was the top draw at Saffron Art's spring auction of Fine Jewels. Estimated between $14, 095 and $16,365, the three rows of collet-set full-cut diamonds, suspending a drop-shaped emerald bead, weighing approximately 12.01 carats, from a diamond-set cap, with a total diamond weight of approximately 8.36 carats, mounted in gold fetched $16,205. Other highlights of the sale were a pair of diamond ear-pendants each designed as a round brilliant-cut diamond, weighing approximately 1.40 carats in total, to a diamond-set surround, suspended from a single round diamond and a diamond-set surmount, mounted in 18 K white gold that went for $4, 313 (estimate: $ 3,500-4,200), another pair of diamond ear pendants that went for $ 7,318 (estimate: $6,365-7,275) among others.

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art etc. news & views is a monthly magazine published from India in order to promote art and culture. It intends to raise awareness about art all around India and the world. The magazine covers art exhibitions, auction highlights, market trends, art happenings besides Antique, Collectibles, Fashion, Jewellery, Vintage, Furniture, Film, Music and Culture.