Category Archive 'Auction Sales'
17 Nov 2017

Questionable Leonardo With Serious Condition Issues Sold for $450.3 Million at Christie’s

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New York Times:

After 19 minutes of dueling, with four bidders on the telephone and one in the room, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold on Wednesday night for $450.3 million with fees, shattering the high for any work of art sold at auction. It far surpassed Picasso’s “Women of Algiers,” which fetched $179.4 million at Christie’s in May 2015. The buyer was not immediately disclosed.

There were gasps throughout the sale, as the bids climbed by tens of millions up to $225 million, by fives up to $260 million, and then by twos. As the bidding slowed, and a buyer pondered the next multi-million-dollar increment, Jussi Pylkkanen, the auctioneer, said, “It’s an historic moment; we’ll wait.”

Toward the end, Alex Rotter, Christie’s co-chairman of postwar and contemporary art, who represented a buyer on the phone, made two big jumps to shake off one last rival bid from Francis de Poortere, Christie’s head of old master paintings.

The price is all the more remarkable at a time when the old masters market is contracting, because of limited supply and collectors’ penchant for contemporary art.

And to critics, the astronomical sale attests to something else — the degree to which salesmanship has come to drive and dominate the conversation about art and its value. Some art experts pointed to the painting’s damaged condition and its questionable authenticity.

“This was a thumping epic triumph of branding and desire over connoisseurship and reality,” said Todd Levin, a New York art adviser.

Christie’s marketing campaign was perhaps unprecedented in the art world; it was the first time the auction house went so far as to enlist an outside agency to advertise the work. Christie’s also released a video that included top executives pitching the painting to Hong Kong clients as “the holy grail of our business” and likening it to “the discovery of a new planet.” Christie’s called the work “the Last da Vinci,” the only known painting by the Renaissance master still in a private collection (some 15 others are in museums).

“It’s been a brilliant marketing campaign,” said Alan Hobart, director of the Pyms Gallery in London, who has acquired museum-quality artworks across a range of historical periods for the British businessman and collector Graham Kirkham. “This is going to be the future.”

RTWT

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Times Critic Jason Farago (speaking on behalf of the Establishment) does not like the painting or its buyer.

You can’t put a price on beauty; you can put a price on a name. When the National Gallery in London exhibited a painting of Christ in 2011 as a heretofore lost work by Leonardo da Vinci, the surprise in art historical circles was exceeded only by the salivating of dealers and auctioneers.

The painting, “Salvator Mundi,” is the only Leonardo in private hands, and was brought to market by the family trust of Dmitry E. Rybolovlev, the Russian billionaire entangled in an epic multinational lawsuit with his former dealer, Yves Bouvier. On Wednesday night, at Christie’s postwar and contemporary sale (in which it was incongruously included to reach bidders beyond Renaissance connoisseurs), the Leonardo sold for a shocking $450.3 million, the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction. Worth it? Well, what are you buying: the painting or the brand?

The painting, when purchased at an estate sale in 2005 for less than $10,000, was initially considered a copy of a lost Leonardo, completed around 1500 and once in the collection of Charles I of England. Over time, its wood surface became cracked and chafed, and it had been crudely overpainted, as an image in the sale catalog shows. Cleaned by the conservator Dianne Dwyer Modestini, the painting now appears in some limbo state between its original form and an exacting, though partially imagined, rehabilitation.

Authentication is a serious but subjective business. I’m not the man to affirm or reject its attribution; it is accepted as a Leonardo by many serious scholars, though not all. I can say, however, what I felt I was looking at when I took my place among the crowds who’d queued an hour or more to behold and endlessly photograph “Salvator Mundi”: a proficient but not especially distinguished religious picture from turn-of-the-16th-century Lombardy, put through a wringer of restorations.

RTWT

05 Nov 2017

At Yesterday’s Auction

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Webley Mark VI 1917 Revolver with Rare Pritchard Greener Bayonet.

Lot #998
Low Estimate: 2,000 High Estimate: 3,000

Sold for: $1,300.00 (plus 25% buyer premium)

This revolver has all matching serial numbers and features six shot, double action, octagon barrel. Lanyard ring removed. Chip in lower left grip. Cylinder never trimmed. All British inspector stamps. Indexes and locks up perfectly. Very good rifled bore. Crisp factory stamps. Metal is basically soft plum gun metal grey. Very good example of a 1917 dated Webley used in the trenches during World War I. It is accompanied by a scarce Pritchard Greener bayonet that attaches to the revolver. Has a brass hilt, 8-1/4″ blade. Patterned after a shortened French Gras bayonet. Right side of the guard is stamped “W.W.G.” in oval with elephant facing blade. Also stamped “Patent No. 171143/16”. Description of this invention can be found on pages 115-116 and seen on plate 52 in “The Webley Story” by Dowell. This exact style bayonet with identical markings was sold alone at a major auction house September, 2014. Maker for a wicked looking weapon. Accessories: bayonet with sheath. Barrel Length: 6″. Caliber/Bore: .455 Webley.

Expensive, but apparently quite a bargain. The rare bayonet has sold for over $2000 alone at auction. You can actually buy a replica at Amazon for $149.95 (or $124.95 in a lesser quality version).

Impressive looking, but one does wonder: did any British officer ever actually use one of these during WWI?

30 Oct 2017

Rather Pricey

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Artnet:

Observers knew that Paul Newman’s Rolex watch, estimated to sell for around $1 million, would be the highlight of Phillips’s first ever New York watch auction yesterday. But no one expected the hand-crafted Daytona watch—which the late actor wore in movies, magazine shoots, and at parties—to sell for $17.8 million, going to an unidentified buyer after 12 minutes of heated bidding.

The sale smashed the previous record for a watch, $11.1 million for a stainless steel Patek Philippe, which sold at Phillips last November.

The “Paul Newman” has won legendary status in the watch community, both because it is considered to be one of the most coveted timepieces in the world—the New York Times compared it to the Mona Lisa for the watch collecting world—and because, until the sale’s announcement in August, few people outside of the Newman family knew where it was. It was first given to Newman by his wife, actress Joanne Woodward, who inscribed it with the message “DRIVE CAREFULLY ME.”

RTWT

13 Sep 2017

For Sale: Possible Tourist Attraction in 6400 Acres

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Stonehenge sold in 1915 for £6,600, with a pretty decent house thrown in. Today, they get almost 1.4 million visitors a year, many of whom pay the full £16.50 admission price.

From the archives of Country Life.

Obviously you and I were unable to bid, not yet having been born. My father was one-year-old, so he, too, was out of luck. But what were my useless grandparents doing?

23 Jul 2017

Seven Most Expensive Guns

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Private Sam Wilson’s Walker Colt and flask

Breitbart lists seven of the most expensive guns in the world.

11 Jun 2017

Custom Target Colt New Service

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Purchased at auction sale yesterday:

Manufactured 1927. This revolver started out as a standard New Service six shot double action revolver with blued finish. A custom low profile clock adjustable target rear sight has been perfectly fitted to the frame. A front sight ramp and large serrated blade have been fitted to the front. Has a custom wide spur checkered target hammer, much like Smith & Wesson target hammer. Trigger has been stippled. Sports a near mint pair of King style checkered walnut right palm swell with left thumbrest grips. Gun has a hint of muzzle wear and light drag line, retaining 98% original finish. This gun has been altered or customized to work in the single action mode only. The action has been finely tuned with the lightest of trigger pull, smooth as silk. Near mint bore. Beautiful large frame pre-war custom target Colt. Manufacturer: Colt, Model: New Service, Caliber: .45 Colt, Barrel Length: 7 – 1/2″.

Colt stopped making these large-frame revolvers in 1944, before I was born. This one was customized by Dean W. King in San Francisco, once a nation-wide renowned center of firearms culture. He died and his company closed its doors in the early 1950s.

Colt switched over to government contract work during WWII, and has hardly looked back. A couple of new Colt revolvers appeared very recently, but Colt had essentially abandoned the field of revolvers for so many decades that nearly all the gunsmiths who understood how to work on their fussy and delicate mechanisms died off long ago. Try getting a Colt revolver customized or repaired today and you’ll find infinitesimally few providers and long waiting times for service.

The past was a different country.

I have not seem it in the flesh yet, but I think this gun has Roper grips.

23 May 2017

$110,500,000.00

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07 May 2017

Unfired .36 Colt Patterson

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Rock Island Auction, May 6, 2017, Lot 2124, Exceptionally Rare and Magnificent, Documented Silver-Banded, Factory Cased Colt No. 5 Squareback Model Texas Paterson Percussion Revolver.

Estimated price: $350,000 – $475,000 — Sold for $500,000.

Description: This exceptional revolver is one of approximately 1,000 Texas Paterson revolvers manufactured by Samuel Colt’s Patent Arms Manufacturing Company from 1838-40. The No. 5 Holster Model revolvers were the largest of all the Paterson handguns and achieved fame as a result of their use by Captain Jack Hays and other Rangers on the Texas frontier. In fact, a major purchaser of the No. 5 was the Republic of Texas. Samuel Walker was familiar with the No. 5 during his days as a Texas Ranger and used the revolver to great effect. His experience with the Paterson persuaded him to advocate for a larger, quicker loading revolver powerful enough to kill either a man or horse with a single shot. His discussions with Samuel Colt led to the Colt Walker Model revolver in 1847. What followed next was a rapid evolution in revolver design spearhead by Colt who introduced the Dragoon series of revolvers that were based on the Walker design. Samuel Walker is often credited for establishing early Colt revolvers as an effective handgun. The Walker and Dragoon revolvers definitely provided Colt with financial relief and fame. This particular No. 5 revolver was once owned by Francis Bannerman. It is illustrated and described in detail on pages 80-83 of “The Art of the Gun: Magnificent Colts Volume I” by Robert M. Lee and R.L. Wilson. The revolver has a high polish blue finish on the barrel, frame, cylinder, and grip strap. The hammer is color casehardened. The five-shot, square back cylinder is roll-engraved with the stagecoach holdup scene. German silver bands are inlaid on the barrel at the muzzle, on the top of the barrel at the breech, on the underside of the barrel lug curves and on the recoil shields. An oval German silver escutcheon is inlaid on the back strap. The barrel has a German silver front sight blade. The two-piece grip is fancy grain walnut with a high polish piano finish. The straight sided barrel has a distinctive double curved lug with no provision for a loading lever. The top of the barrel is roll-stamped “- Patent Arms M’g. Co. Paterson, N.J. – Colt’s Pt. -” reading from the breech to the muzzle with “star & snake” terminals at either end of the legend. The top of the cylinder is marked “COLT” in addition to the roll-engraved stagecoach scene. The serial number “141” is visible on: (1) the rear face of the barrel lug, (2) bottom of the cylinder wedge, (3) bottom of the frame in the trigger well, (4) inside of the trigger, (5) rear face of the cylinder, (6) inside of the hammer and (7) bottom of the left grip heel. All of the visible serial numbers match. The revolver is complete with a mahogany Paterson style case with beveled lid and scalloped German silver escutcheon plate. The case is lined with dark blue velvet with wire clips to retain the accessories. The case contains: (1) spare five-shot, square back cylinder marked “J./201″ on the rear face, (2) brass cleaning rod with turned wooden head, (3) .36 caliber, single cavity, round ball iron bullet mold with three wooden handles, (4) Paterson combination tool with fire blue finish, (5) side-latch brass Colt capper marked “No. 333” on the inside of the body and lid, (6) distinctive Paterson copper and brass combination powder and ball flask numbered “16” on both the upper and lower sections and roll-stamped with the same Patent Arms Co. legend with “star & snake” terminals as the top barrel flat and (7) several .36 caliber lead balls that were originally in the flask.

Condition: Very fine. This revolver remains in exceptionally fine condition, appears to be un-fired and retains 70% of the original high polish blue finish. The blue on the barrel is thin with some cleaning overall, but the metal surfaces are smooth and the edges are crisp. The barrel legend is extremely sharp. The cylinder retains nearly all of the stagecoach scene and has about 90% of the blue finish. The front and rear face of the cylinder and the percussion nipples show no trace of flash pitting or firing wear. The frame and back strap retain more than 90% of the high polish blue finish; the face of the recoil shield, top of the frame and the cylinder pin are in the same excellent condition as the exterior surfaces and show no wear. The hammer has nearly 95% of the original case colors with no flash pitting. The nicely figured walnut grip is in very fine with some scattered finish flaking. The visible serial numbers on all components are sharp. The factory case is fine. The case exterior has a few scattered and minor handling and storage marks, and the interior has some oil stains and compression marks but no serious wear. The spare cylinder has some flash pitting on the percussion nipples and the front and rear face but retains 100% of the stagecoach scene and nearly 80% of the blue finish. The cleaning rod remains very fine. The bullet mold has traces of blue finish on the blocks and sprue cutter while the wooden handles show minimal wear. The excellent combination tool retains 90% of the nitre blue finish. The capper is fine, complete, and original with an attractive, un-polished patina and sharp markings. The rare Paterson combination powder and ball flask is excellent and retains nearly 90% plus original of the bright original gold plated finish with crisp markings and serial numbers. This is a truly exceptional example of the most desirable of all Colt Paterson firearms – the Texas Paterson revolver. The combination of un-fired condition, rare German silver inlays, and factory case with rare accessories make this one of the finest of all Paterson revolvers extant. Provenance: Robert M. Lee Collection.

04 May 2017

Waterloo Flag Bought at US Auction

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Robert Gibbs, Closing of The Gates of Hougoumont, 1903, National War Museum, Edinburgh.

London Times:

A battered regimental standard that survived some of the fiercest fighting at Waterloo is being painstakingly pieced together after being found in fragments in a cardboard box.

The colours of the 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards were flown at Hougoumont Farm, a key engagement in the battle at which Napoleon was defeated in 1815. The 6ft 5in by 5ft 7in silk flag is one of a handful to have survived. It turned up at auction in the United States, where it was bought for less than £500.

The new owner, Gary Lawrence, 58, a window fitter from east London who has a sideline in military antiques, had no idea he was buying one of the British Army’s greatest battle honours. He had planned to use it to restore other colours he owns but it turned out to be far rarer and more valuable than anything else in his collection. He has spent months trying to research it, and how it came to be in the US, without much success. He said: “It was described as fragments so we had no idea how much of the flag there’d be.”

The flag is being reconstructed by May Berkouwer, a textile restorer who works with the Victoria and Albert Museum and National Trust. When restored it could be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

05 Mar 2017

Tiffany Favrile Vase

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Louis Comfort Tiffany, Favrile Vase

At DuMouchelles’ March 11 Sale, Lot 031010

L.C. TIFFANY FAVRILE VASE, H 9″, W 5 1/4″:Paperweight. Iridescent finish. Marked underneath ‘1616 L; L.C. Tiffany –
Favrile’.

Wikipedia:

Favrile glass is a type of iridescent art glass designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. It was patented in 1894 and first produced in 1896. It differs from most iridescent glasses because the color is ingrained in the glass itself, as well as having distinctive coloring. Favrile glass was used in Tiffany’s stained-glass windows.

Already at $3500.00

29 Jan 2017

Little Bighorn 7th Cavalry Colt

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One of the prizes at the upcoming James D. Julia Firearms Auction – April 11, 12 & 13, 2017:

Historic Colt SAA SN 5773 Picked Up By Captain Benteen After the Battle Of The Little Bighorn (1 of 3). This One is The Most Complete And Is Featured In Kopec’s Book.

30 Aug 2016

Smallsword Gifted by Benjamin Franklin

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BenFranklinSmallsword

Christie’s Sale 12186
Important American Furniture, Silver, Outsider and Folk Art

20 September 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

Lot 854
THE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN SILVER-HILTED SMALL SWORD
PROBABLY SPANISH, CIRCA 1760

Estimate USD 200,000 – USD 300,000

with tapering Colichemarde blade of hollow triangular section, etched at the forte with scrollwork, and engraved inscription (a 19th century addition) in French Epée que portait Benjamin Franklin dans les combats livrés en Amérique pour la cause de la Liberté. / Il la donna depuis à son ami P.J.G. Cabania (sic) [Sword worn by Benjamin Franklin in the battles fought in America in the cause of Liberty. / He then gave it to his friend P.J.G. Cabanis], silver hilt comprising symmetrical shell-guard, quillion-block, knuckle-guard and pommel (rear-quillion missing) pierced with scrollwork and stylised trophies, and grip bound with silver wire and ribbon; with brown leather scabbard with silver locket decorated en suite with the hilt and struck on the reverse with a silversmith’s mark, and later silver chape with iron finial; and later close-fitted velvet-lined leather-covered case with brass mounts
The sword: 33 ½ in. (85 cm.) blade; 40 3/8 in. (102.5 cm.) overall
The case: 42 5/8 in. (108.3 cm.) long

The locket (upper scabbard mount) bearing a silversmith’s mark of SS in a rectangle, determined to be that of Samuel Soumaine (1718-circa 1769) of Annapolis, Maryland and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

More here.


larger version here

21 Aug 2016

Unique European Revolver

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From Ian McCollum, a very odd, downright steampunk, one-of-a-kind European prototype revolver.

Rock Island Auction September 9 – 11, 2016, Lot 1359, estimated price $2500-4000.

02 Aug 2016

Everybody Needs One of These

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NagaBag

From Artemis Gallery:

Lot 0023B:

Northern India, Naga, mid to late 19th CE. An early leather headhunter’s bag dramatically decorated with four monkey skulls, the two at each end framed by pairs of animal (perhaps boar) tusks, with a rectangular lid attached to the overall rectangular form via woven fibers, a leather loop at the lower end, a strand of knotted natural fibers across the front, plaited wicker lining the back of the lid, and a strap of twisted wire attached to wicker loops for suspension. This bag was most likely used to carry human heads as headhunting was a traditional practice among the Naga tribes of northern India and Myanmar. A rare find indeed! Size: 7″ deep x 11″ W x 9.5″ H (17.8 cm x 27.9 cm x 24.1 cm)

Ending tomorrow, currently at $6000.

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