Category Archive 'Auction Sales'
31 Oct 2019

Mid-17th Century Ebony Cabinet

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From Hermann Historica GmbH, November 13, 2019, 10:00 AM CET,
Grasbrunn / Munich, Germany, Lot 2275: A museum-quality ebony cabinet, Antwerp, mid-17th century. Starting bid: €25,000.

The large cabinet veneered in ebony, with fittings of fire-gilt bronze. The pedestal with two lockable drawers. The cabinet with an arrangement of three pillars, the doors, sides and lid decorated with finely partitioned coffering. The hinged, lockable lid drawer with a concealed keyhole, the interior lined in blue silk. An old, octagonal mirror in the lid. The inside of the cabinet with an architectural structure, the side drawers and the doors adorned with fine silk embroidery, three-dimensional in places (slightly worn here and there). The central door opens to reveal a further nine small drawers. Several concealed drawers and various secret compartments. Original, gilt locks and fittings, some of the keys replaced. The left side stamped “R” with a crown, presumably a French tax stamp, used between 1754 and 1749 for objects containing copper. Dimensions 80 x 84 x 42.5 cm. Extremely sumptuous cabinet of courtly quality. The embroidered silk interior is of the utmost rarity as it is extremely perishable, unlike cabinets embellished with metal or ivory décor. Thus, only very few specimens have survived. Similar pieces may be found in the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels or the Snyders&Rockox House Museum in Antwerp, for example. A virtually identical cabinet can be seen in the painting entitled “Vanité” by Cornelis de Vos (1584 – 1651), which today forms part of the collection of the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum in Braunschweig.

Check the photos.

30 Oct 2019

Recently Discovered Cimabue Sold for €24million

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The auction sale of the Cimabue painting whose discovery made news last month shattered estimates and (understandably enough) hit record levels for Old Master paintings.

The Guardian has the story.

An tiny early Renaissance masterpiece found in a French woman’s kitchen during a house clearance has fetched more than €24m at auction, making it the most expensive medieval painting ever sold.

Christ Mocked, by the 13th-century Florentine painter Cimabue, had hung for decades above a cooking hotplate in the open-plan kitchen of a 1960s house near Compiègne, north of Paris. It had never attracted much attention from the woman, in her 90s, or her family, who thought it was simply an old icon from Russia. It might have ended up in a bin during the house move this summer had it not been spotted by an auctioneer who had come to value furniture.

At an auction outside Paris on Sunday, the unsigned work, measuring just 26cm by 20cm, fetched €19.5m under the hammer, rising to over €24m when fees were included.

The Actéon auction house in Senlis said in a statement that the sale was the biggest for a medieval painting and the eighth highest for a medieval or old master painting. The painting now ranks alongside works by Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, Rembrandt and Raphael in the top 10 of most expensive old painting sales.

“When a unique work of a painter as rare as Cimabue comes to market, you have to be ready for surprises,” said Dominique Le Coent, who heads the Actéon auction house in Senlis. “This is the only Cimabue that has ever come on the market.”

As 800 people gathered in the auction hall in Senlis, the crowd fell silent during the nail-biting final moments of bidding. Some bids came in by telephone to agents. As the auctioneer brandished his hammer as the price crept up, he said: “There will never be another Cimabue at auction.”

Actéon did not reveal the identity of the buyer but said a foreign museum had been among the bidders.

The painting had hung on the kitchen wall for so long that the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told the auction house she had no idea where it had come from or how it had come into the family’s hands.

Cimabue, also known as Cenni di Pepo, was one of the pioneering artists of the early Italian Renaissance. Only 11 works painted on wood have been attributed to him, none of them signed.

RTWT

25 Oct 2019

Bottle of 1926 Scotch Sells for $1.9 Million

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The BBC reports:

A rare bottle of Scotch whisky has sold for a world record £1.5m at auction in London.

The Macallan 1926 60-year-old single malt from cask number 263 had been estimated to sell for between £350,000 and £450,000.

Sotheby’s, which held the auction, did not release the identity of the buyer.

The previous auction record for a single bottle of Scotch was £1.2m, set by another bottle from the same cask in November last year.

Sotheby’s described The Macallan 1926 from cask number 263 as the “holy grail” of whisky.

The cask, which was distilled in 1926 and bottled in 1986, produced only 40 bottles.

The bottle featured at the auction as part of what Sotheby’s termed the “ultimate whisky collection”.

The entire collection of 467 bottles in 394 lots sold for £7,635,619 – about double the pre-auction estimate.

RTWT

10 Oct 2019

Gun That Fired the First Shot at the Battle of Bunker Hill Goes to Auction

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The musket will be sold along with John Simpson’s original military commission dated March 17, 1778.

Just Collecting:

The gun that fired the first shot at the Battle of Bunker Hill is heading for sale Morphy Auctions in Denver later this month.

The Revolutionary War musket belonged to John Simpson, a Private in the 1st New Hampshire Regiment who fought during the historic battle in Charlestown, Massachusetts on June 17, 1775.

As the British troops advanced, Simpson fired his weapon prematurely – disobeying the famous order given to American soldiers not to fire “until you see the white of their eyes”.

Having been passed down by Simpson’s descendents for almost 250 years, the historic weapon will now be offered for sale for the first time, and is expected to sell for up to $300,000. …

Following the battle, John Simpson was the only American soldier court martialed for disobeying an order and firing too early.

However, he was only lightly reprimanded and went on to serve with distinction during the war, rising to the rank of Major before returning home to his family farm in New Hampshire.

His trusty musket was then passed down through generations of his family, creating a remarkable unbroken line of ownership, and has been described as “arguably the most significant, positively identified Revolutionary War long arm in existence”.

Not only is John Simpson’s name forever linked with the Battle of Bunker Hill, but his descendents played an even greater role in shaping the history of the nation.

Simpson’s grandson was Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War hero and 18th President of the United States; and his great-grandson was Meriwether Lewis, who explored the Western territories of the country as part of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition.

RTWT

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Morphy Auction Lot Description

27 Aug 2019

Rock Island Has Smith & Wessons

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Coming up September 6, 7, and 8: great Volcanics, a really cool Third Model Target complete with stock, a couple engraved by Nimschke, and a Kornbrath-engraved Registered Smith & Wesson to die for, and (for the icing on the cake) Elmer Keith’s own .38-44 with holster and Roper grips no less. If you recently won the lottery, you’re all set.

20 Jul 2019

The Last Walker Colt

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A great item, but so damn valuable that nobody will ever again drop the hammer, let alone shoot it.

25 Jun 2019

47 Moroccan Berber Belts

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Gros-Delettrez, Ethnographic & Indigenous Artifacts, June 28, 2019, 2:00 PM CET, Paris, France

Lot 57: Une exceptionnelle collection de 47 ceintures Berbères, Afrique du Nord — An unique collection of 47 antique Berber belts, North Africa, Moroccan Sahara

S’il est rare de rencontrer une de ces ceintures, en voir 47 réunies en une collection, cela nous semble unique. Certaines possèdent des fils métalliques dorés, d’autres, des fils métalliques argentés, d’autres sont toutes en laine, enfin d’autres possèdent des parties en coton. Usures mineures.
Milieu du XXe siècle
3 x 92 cm ou 3.5 x 97 cm de moyenne
It is unusual to find even one of these belts, but to see 47 united in one collection, seems unique. Some have gold wire, some silver wire, some are all wool, others have cotton parts. Minor wear.
Mid 20th century
1.2 x 36 inches or 1.4 x 38 inches on the average.

Starting bid €8,000 ($9115.60)

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Interesting visually, but just a bit expensive.

20 Jun 2019

Alleged Van Gogh Gun Sold at Auction

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Art News:

The rusty gun which Van Gogh probably used to shoot himself sold for €162,500 at a Drouot auction in Paris this afternoon. ArtAuction Rémy le Fur, which estimated the revolver at €40,000-€60,000, describes it as “the most famous weapon in art history”. The private buyer has not been named.

Although the seller has also not been identified by the auctioneer, she is believed to be Régine Tagliana, an artist and the daughter of Roger and Micheline Tagliana, who in 1952 had bought the café where Van Gogh lodged in 1890. The Tagliana family were given the gun in around 1960 by the farmer who had found it on his land, just behind the château in Auvers-sur-Oise. This is the village just north of Paris where the artist spent his final 70 days.

The auctioned Lefaucheux pinfire revolver is almost certainly the weapon used, although this cannot be conclusively proved. The type of weapon, its calibre, its severely corroded state and the location and circumstances of the find strongly suggest it is the gun. In the evening of 27 July 1890 Van Gogh suffered a gunshot wound while in a wheatfield and he then staggered back to the inn, dying two days later.

The discovery of the gun once again raises the question of whether Van Gogh committed suicide or was murdered. The 2011 biography by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith argued that he was killed by a local young man, René Secrétan, possibly by accident.

RTWT

Earlier post.

04 Jun 2019

Another Lewis Chessman

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Big news from the BBC:

A medieval chess piece that was missing for almost 200 years had been unknowingly kept in a drawer by an Edinburgh family.

They had no idea that the object was one of the long-lost Lewis Chessmen – which could now fetch £1m at auction.

The chessmen were found on the Isle of Lewis in 1831 but the whereabouts of five pieces have remained a mystery.

The Edinburgh family’s grandfather, an antiques dealer, had bought the chess piece for £5 in 1964.

He had no idea of the significance of the 8.8cm piece (3.5in), made from walrus ivory, which he passed down to his family.

They have looked after it for 55 years without realising its importance, before taking it to Sotheby’s auction house in London. …

Sotheby’s expert Alexander Kader, who examined the piece for the family, said his “jaw dropped” when he realised what they had in their possession.

“They brought it in for assessment,” he said. “That happens every day. Our doors are open for free valuations.

“We get called down to the counter and have no idea what we are going to see. More often than not, it’s not worth very much.

“I said, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s one of the Lewis Chessmen’.”

Mr Kader, Sotheby’s co-worldwide head of European sculpture and works of art, said the family, who want to remain anonymous, were “quite amazed”.

“It’s a little bit bashed up. It has lost its left eye. But that kind of weather-beaten, weary warrior added to its charm,” he said.

Despite not knowing its significance, the late 12th/early 13th Century chess piece had been “treasured” by the family.

The current owner’s late mother believed it “almost had magical qualities”.

A family spokesman said in a statement: “My grandfather was an antiques dealer based in Edinburgh, and in 1964 he purchased an ivory chessman from another Edinburgh dealer.

“It was catalogued in his purchase ledger that he had bought an ‘Antique Walrus Tusk Warrior Chessman’.

“From this description it can be assumed that he was unaware he had purchased an important historic artefact.

“It was stored away in his home and then when my grandfather died my mother inherited the chess piece.

“My mother was very fond of the Chessman as she admired its intricacy and quirkiness. She believed that it was special and thought perhaps it could even have had some magical significance.

“For many years it resided in a drawer in her home where it had been carefully wrapped in a small bag. From time to time, she would remove the chess piece from the drawer in order to appreciate its uniqueness.”

The Lewis Chessmen set includes seated kings and queens, bishops, knights and standing warders and pawns. Some 82 pieces are now in the British Museum and 11 pieces held by the National Museum of Scotland. As well as the chess pieces, the hoard includes 14 “tablemen” gaming pieces and a buckle.

Since the hoard was uncovered in 1831, one knight and four warders have been missing from the four combined chess sets.

The newly-discovered piece is a warder, a man with helmet, shield and sword and the equivalent of a rook on a modern chess board, which “has immense character and power”.

The discovery of the hoard remains shrouded in mystery, with stories of it being dug up by a cow grazing on sandy banks.

It is thought it was buried shortly after the objects were made, possibly by a merchant to avoid taxes after being shipwrecked, and so remained underground for 500 years.

Mr Kader, who has kept the discovery under wraps for six months while authenticating the find, said: “We can safely say that a million pounds will transform the seller’s life.”

He added: “There are still four out there somewhere. It might take another 150 years for another one to pop up.”

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Sotheby’s write-up.

15 Apr 2019

If You Happen to Have All the Tea in China…

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How on earth did it survive in that condition all these years?

11 Apr 2019

Gun That Killed Van Gogh? Maybe, Maybe Not, Too

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The 7mm Belgian pinfire revolver that might have shot van Gogh.

Hyperallergic reports on an intriguing opportunity to buy a junk gun that just

    might

have an important historical connection. On the other hand, some drunken clochard might simply have lost it sleeping in the field.

Any shmoe with a spare $25-$100 million dollars can land themselves an original Vincent Van Gogh painting, but this June, only one lucky bidder can go home with a singular piece of art history: the gun that was allegedly used by the eccentric painter to kill himself. As reported by the Associated Press, a 7mm pocket revolver found in a field in the northern French village of Auvers-sur-Oise — where Van Gogh is believed to have shot himself in the chest on July 27, 1890 — will go up for auction in Paris at the Drouot auction center, on June 19.

“The gun offered in this sale was found in this field by a farmer around 1960 and was handed to the current owner’s mother,” said the auction website. “Writer Alain Rohan investigated this case and wrote the book Did we find the suicide weapon? in 2012. Several pieces of evidence show it must be Van Gogh’s suicide gun: it was discovered where Van Gogh shot it; its caliber (7 mm) is the same as the bullet retrieved from the artist’s body as described by the doctor at the time; scientific studies demonstrate that the gun had stayed in the ground since the 1890s and finally, it is a low power gun so it could explain why Van Gogh didn’t instantly die after shooting it.”

The painter died two days later of his apparently self-inflicted injuries — although another recent theory is that Van Gogh did not inflict this wound himself.

“Another theory about Van Gogh’s death appeared in 2011,” says the Drouot website, referencing a controversial biography, Van Gogh: The Life, by authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, which makes several dramatic revisionist claims, based on 10 years of study with more than 20 translators and researchers. “According to [two] American researchers, the artist didn’t kill himself. He would have been the victim of an accident. [Two] young boys were playing with a gun next to him when one of them pressed the trigger by mistake and wounded him. However, even if this assumption is right, the weapon could still be the one that killed Van Gogh. The gun would have been left in the field.”

Either way, the gun was included in a 2016 exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, On the Verge of Insanity: Van Gogh and his Illness, which deals with multiple aspects of the painter’s notoriously troubled mental health, and is expected to fetch €40,000–60,000 (~$45,000–67,000) at auction. It certainly represents a unique offering for obsessive Van Gogh fans, gun collectors, and historical true crime enthusiasts.

08 Apr 2019

Neat, But Expensive

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A tumbler formed from a rubel coin with gilt interior, engraved:

“Der Russe ward bey Zorndorff geschlagen
Ich aber als Beut davongebracht
Aus Rubel bin ich ein Tummel gemacht
Zum Guten Trunck es kanns ein jeder wagen
Der nur Preussens Friederich und seine Taht verehrt
Der sein eigenes heil, des wirthes wohl begehrt.”

“The Russian was beaten at Zorndorff
But I brought it away as booty
I have made a tumbler out of a ruble
With this good drinking vessel everybody can
The great Prussian Friederich and his deed celebrate
And pledge his health, the worthy and admired.”

dated “25 August 1758”. The beakers are an eloquent testimony to a historic encounter during the Seven Years’ War: In the Battle of Zorndorf on 25th August, 1758, the Prussian troops beat the Russian army and succeeded in capturing a part of their war funds. Subsequently, a number of those Rubel [ruble] coins were embossed to little beakers commemorating Prussia’s military victory.

Dimensions: H 3.5 cm, weight 22 g.

Artist or Maker: marks of Johann Friedrich Wagenknecht, circa 1758.

Sold on Saturday for €7000.


Carl Röchling, Friedrich II. in der Schlacht bei Zorndorf 1758, 1911.

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