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Bloomsbury to sell early American New Testament, Nov. 29

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Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 14 November 2011 10:46

The title page of the New Testament published by Robert Aitken in 1777 in Philadelphia. Image courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions.

LONDON (AP) – A rare copy of the first English-language edition of the New Testament to be published in the United States is being offered at auction in London.

Bloomsbury Auctions says the small volume, published in 1777, is estimated to fetch 100,000 pounds ($160,000) or more at the sale on Nov. 29. The identity of the seller was not disclosed. will provide Internet live bidding.

The New Testament was published by Robert Aitken, a Scotsman who settled in Philadelphia, who acted to fill a void after British authorities cut off the supply of Bibles following the American Colonies' Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Although Aitken published further editions of the New Testament in 1778, 1779 and 1781, “this is the first and obviously the most important,” Rupert Powell, deputy chairman of Bloomsbury Auctions, said Friday.

He said only two other copies of the edition are known to survive, one held by the Philadelphia Historical Society and the other by the New York Public Library.

The title page of Aitken's New Testament proclaims it is “newly translated out of the original Greek; and with the former translations diligently compared and revised. Appointed to be read in churches.”

With a few slight changes, that repeats the wording on the title page of the first edition of the King James Bible published in 1611; Aitken omitted the King James Bible's reference to the king.

Powell said he was unable to say whether Aitken had simply lifted the text of the King James Bible, or had gone to the trouble of preparing his own edition.

Aitken was not the first to publish a Bible in the United States. A version of the New Testament in the Algonquin (Native American) language was translated by the English Puritan clergyman John Eliot and published in 1661, followed by a full Bible in 1663.

Christopher Saur, a German immigrant, also was ahead of Aitken, publishing a German-language Bible in 1743 in Philadelphia.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast rewritten, or redistributed.


AP-WF-11-11-11 1221GMT


The title page of the New Testament published by Robert Aitken in 1777 in Philadelphia. Image courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions. 

Last Updated on Monday, 14 November 2011 11:04

VIDEO: Sotheby’s expects rare yellow diamond to reach $15M

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Written by FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press   
Thursday, 10 November 2011 12:53

The pear-shape Sun-Drop Diamond is 110.03 carats and has the highest color grading: fancy vivid yellow. Image courtesy of Sotheby's.

GENEVA (AP) – A rare yellow pear-shaped diamond is expected to fetch between $11 million and 15 million at auction next week, and the buyer will have the chance to name it, Sotheby's said Wednesday.

The so-called Sun-Drop Diamond is described as fancy vivid yellow—the highest color grading—by gemstone experts. It is the largest known diamond of its kind, at 110.03 carats.

“It looks the weight,” said David Bennett, the head of Sotheby's jewelry division. “At the same time it's a very bright stone,” he added, as a model showed off the diamond to photographers before the Nov. 15 sale at Geneva's Beau-Rivage hotel.

The jewel is being sold by Cora International, which discovered the diamond in South Africa only last year—meaning it has no history of previous wearers.

“Some people find it very attractive to own a stone that's been lying untouched in the earth for millions of years,” Bennett told The Associated Press.

Other lots include a suite of jewels given by the Ottoman Empire's Sultan Abdul Hamid II to the wife of the Khedive of Egypt in the late 19th century.

The set comprising a necklace, brooch and pair of earrings could fetch $10 million. Some of the gems may have been part of a peace offering given by Russian Czar Peter the Great's wife Catherine to Ottoman Sultan Ahmed II in 1711, Sotheby's said.

The jewel auction is preceded by a sale of historic watches Nov. 13. Items include timepieces worn by India's first president, Rajendra Prasad, and a Rolex belonging to German chancellor Konrad Adenauer.

The classic gold watch was presented to Adenauer by Rolex's German founder Hans Wilsdorf in 1955. A letter from Wilsdorf explains that Adenauer would be able to wear the watch during his daily bath without harming the mechanism. It is not known if Germany's first chancellor after World War II ever did so.

Despite global economic jitters the market for high-end luxury goods remains healthy, said Bennett. Last year, Sotheby's sold a 24.78-carat fancy intense pink diamond for a record-breaking $46 million.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:42

First Lehman Brothers' share auctioned for $33,000

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Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 09 November 2011 11:20

The former Lehman Brothers New York City headquarters. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

BERLIN (AP) – The worthless but historic first share issued by collapsed investment bank Lehman Brothers has sold at an auction in Germany for 24,000 euros ($33,000).

Auctioneer Michael Schmitt said Monday that the share, issued by the bank when it went public in 1994, used to hang in the office of Lehman Brothers' then chief executive Richard Fuld, for whom it was issued.

The buyer, who wanted to remain anonymous, purchased the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. share for its historic value, Schmitt said. “This is the ultimate document of the financial crisis,” he added.

The bidding for the green and white document, series No. LB 0001 and measuring about 12 inches by 9 inches, started at 5,000 euros at Historisches Wertpapierhaus' premises in southern German Wuerzburg on Saturday, he said.

Lehman collapsed in 2008 in what is widely seen as a key trigger of the financial crisis.

The share was auctioned off this spring alongside a trove of other objects such as furniture or art exhibits from the defunct bank's offices, and a European dealer found the share in the lot and recognized its value, Schmitt said.

The dealer then offered it to Schmitt because he specializes in ancient stock market documents.

“German collectors make up 50 to 60 percent of the world market for historic shares,” Schmitt said.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 November 2011 15:49

Auction of rare French wines tops $14.5M in Hong Kong

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Written by AFP Wire Service   
Monday, 07 November 2011 16:31

Buyers showed a preference for great Burgundy. Image by Andre Karwath. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

HONG KONG (AFP) – A weekend sale of rare French wine returned $14.5 million, making it the year's biggest wine auction and underlining Hong Kong's status as a leading wine market, the auction house said Monday.

The two-day auction by U.S. house Acker Merrall & Condit featured the Don Stott Collection, considered a "reference library of great Burgundy," the organizers said.

With 98 percent of the lots sold, the intense interest in the premium French vintages demonstrated the strength of Chinese demand for high-end luxury goods despite the eurozone crisis and rising inflation at home.

"Highly competitive bidding was witnessed throughout this two-day landmark auction, which reflected the escalating demand and passion for fine Burgundy wines in the global market," Acker Merrall & Condit said in a statement.

The auctioneers said 145 world auction records were set, including 23 for Georges Roumier, 22 for Domaine Dujac, 17 for Domaine de la Romanee Conti and 13 for Louis Jadot.

The star lot from the Domaine de la Romanee Conti collection was a case of 1990 DRC La Tache which sold for a "staggering" HK$536,800 (U.S. $68,821), they said. A case of 1985 La Tache fetched HK$390,400 (U.S. $50,250).

"Don Stott is the world's foremost collector of Burgundy, and his cellar is unchallenged for its great depth and diversity of Burgundy, even after this sale," Acker Merrall & Condit chief executive John Kapon said in the statement.

"The enthusiastic market response attests to the robust market in Asia for fine and rare wines."

He said it also showed Chinese buyers were diversifying their interests, which in the past have been heavily dominated by Bordeaux wines.

Six rare bottles of Roumier's 1978 Musigny sold for HK$463,600 ($59,635), just one of the records set over the weekend auction.

"We tasted two divine wines from Roumier on Saturday, the first being a stunningly gorgeous 1993 Les Amoureuses and the second being a mythical 1971 Bonnes Mares," Kapon said.

"I can still taste the wine a day later. It was hauntingly great, another 98 pointer and a true wine legend. There is nothing like a great, old wine."




Last Updated on Monday, 07 November 2011 16:50

Queen Victoria's bloomers sold for nearly $15,000

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 04 November 2011 09:39

An 1863 photo of Queen Victoria on 'Fyvie' with John Brown at Balmoral. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

LONDON (AP)  - A pair of silk bloomers that belonged to Britain's Queen Victoria has sold at auction for 9,375 pounds ($14,950) - three times the estimate.

A painting of the queen with her Scottish servant John Brown sold for 145,250 pounds ($230,000) at Edinburgh auction house Lyon & Turnbull. The close relationship between monarch and servant inspired the film Mrs. Brown.

Both items were purchased Tuesday by anonymous bidders.

They were among items from Old Battersea House, the London home of U.S. publishing clan the Forbes family.

A four-poster bed Elizabeth Taylor slept in when she stayed at the house during her honeymoon with seventh husband Larry Fortensky sold for more than 9,000 pounds ($14,350).

The prices include buyer's premium.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Last Updated on Friday, 04 November 2011 10:04

Klimt landscape fetches $40 million at Sotheby's

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Written by Brigitte Dusseau   
Thursday, 03 November 2011 08:14

Property Restituted to the Heir of Amalie Redlich, Gustav Klimt, Litzlberg am Attersee, 110 by 110 cm. Est. in excess of $25 million; sold at Sotheby's New York's Nov. 2 Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale for $40,402,500. Image courtesy of Sotheby's.

NEW YORK (AFP) – A landscape by painter Gustav Klimt that was stolen by the Nazis, then returned this year to the family of the Jewish owner, sold for $40.4 million on Wednesday at Sotheby's in New York.

The painting, Litzlberg am Attersee (Litzlberg on the Attersee), easily topped its high estimate of $25 million at the impressionist and modern sale.

Depicting a pastoral scene of towering, wooded hills rising from water into a bright sky, the landscape was stolen after the German annexation of Austria in 1938. It was only returned this spring to Georges Jorisch, grandson of the woman who owned it until the Nazis came.

Sotheby's autumn sale saw stronger results than rival Christie's, which had a poor night on Tuesday, with several of the main works, including a Degas bronze sculpture, failing to find buyers.

A centerpiece of Sotheby's catalogue – Henri Matissse's monumental bronze sculpture of a woman seen from the back, Nu de dos – was withdrawn just before the auction after being sold in a private deal.

The huge bas-relief bronze was sold for an undisclosed price to an unidentified buyer along with three others that form a group, all consigned by The Burnett Foundation of Forth Worth, Texas.

The auction house had been intending to sell them separately over the year, at prices of about $20-30 million, because as a group the price had been considered too forbidding in a nervous international market.

Picasso's playful and erotic L'Aubade, estimated at $18-25 million, sold for $23 million. Gustave Caillebote's Le pont d'Argenteuil et la Seine, estimated at $5-7 million, sold for $9.26 million, a record for the artist at auction.

Overall, 57 lots of 70 sold, or 81 percent, and 13 failed to find buyers, including three works by Miro and one Renoir.

It was a sharply better night for Sotheby's than at Christie's on Tuesday, when a celebrated bronze sculpture by Degas, two important Picassos and a dreamy Matisse among works failing to sell.

Only 51 of 82 lots sold at Christie's, a total of 62 percent, possibly reflecting jitters among big collectors at a time of renewed anxiety over stock markets and the stability of the euro.

Petite danseuse de quatorze ans, which shows a childlike ballerina with one foot extended, was meant to be one of the highlights of Christie's impressionist and modern sales, but failed to find a bid higher than $18.5 million and was withdrawn. It had an estimate of $25 to $35 million.

Simon Shaw, head of the impressionist and modern art department at Sotheby's, said: "I am very happy. The sale last night did not go well, but you have to have confidence."

"We consciously chose not to take properties where expectations on the part of the seller were considered too strong in this market place," he said. "One has to take very much account of what is happening outside. We are living in a volatile world."

Next week both houses will hold sales of contemporary art.



Last Updated on Thursday, 03 November 2011 09:16

Clutch hits: Ted Williams’ love letters to his mistress

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Written by Auction House PR   
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 12:45

Handwritten Ted Williams letters are scarce. Heritage Auctions will sell six of them written in the 1950s to Williams' mistress.

DALLAS – Six handwritten love letters penned by Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams, written in the early 1950s to his mistress, Norma Williamson, are expected to bring more than $4,000 as part of Heritage Auction’s Nov. 11 Vintage Sports Collectibles event.

“Now when I got your letter I also got one from Doris (Williams) ‘quoting’ a letter that was sent to me from you but got back to Miami someway & she got it,” reads a letter in the trove from Williams to Williamson. “Now isn't that dandy? I really don't care to (sic) much but don't ever put your return address on them ...”

So reads just one of the many juicy selections from this collection of a half dozen letters, purchased by the consignor from Williams' former mistress, Norma Williamson, providing an intensely personal and private insight into baseball's greatest hitter.

“Collectors know that handwritten letters from Williams are quite scarce regardless of content,” said Chris Ivy, director of Vintage Sports Collectibles auctions at Heritage, “but few could match this collection for tabloid intrigue.”

Two are small index-sized cards mailed from Boston in 1950 and 1951, both of which betray a bit of insecurity on Williams' part: “I haven't heard from you,” reads the one from 1950. “Have an idea you've met someone whose (sic) making you forget about the kid.” And from 1951: “Say listen this is just a note really to tell you that if I ever find out you even talk to a ballplayer or anyone connected with it I'll just take it you don't want to see me, did ya hear?”

Three of the letters were written while Williams served in the Korean conflict, with the last one, sent in 1953 from Puerto Rico, in which Williams vents his military frustrations: “I'm discusted (sic) with this g*d d**n mess I'm in I never saw anything so fowled (sic) up my slogan for life from now on is the Marine Corps stinks.”

Another reads: “Your picture honey was terrific & I've got it right by my bed to look at, some of my thoughts keep me awake at nite (sic) thinking about you & your precious little body.”

Also included in the same auction is another significant piece of Red Sox history: The birth of the Boston Red Sox team franchise, in the form of stock certificate no. 1, issued in 1901 by the “Boston American League Base-Ball Club” to famed Massachusetts District Attorney Joseph C. Pelletier, for eight shares. The piece is expected to bring $20,000-plus.

“This is one of the most significant Boston Red Sox artifacts ever placed on the auction block,” said Ivy. “It is, literally, the very beginning of one of the most storied and important professional teams to ever exist.”



Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 November 2011 13:02

Degas sculpture, Picasso paintings fail to sell at Christie's

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Written by AFP Wire Service   
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 12:06

The top lot of the sale was Max Ernst’s 'The Stolen Mirror,' a Surrealist tour-de-force painting, which realized $16,322,500. Image courtesy of Christie's.

NEW YORK (AFP) – New York's autumn art sales got off to a weak start Tuesday with a celebrated bronze sculpture by Degas, two important Picassos and a dreamy Matisse among works failing to sell at Christie's.

Only 51 of 82 lots sold, a total of 62 percent, possibly reflecting jitters among big collectors at a time of renewed anxiety over stock markets and the stability of the euro.

Petite danseuse de quatorze ans, which shows a childlike ballerina with one foot extended, was meant to be one of the highlights of Christie's impressionist and modern sales, but failed to find a bid higher than $18.5 million and was withdrawn. It had a presale estimate of $25 to $35 million.

Two major Picasso paintings, which had also been billed as pillars of the auction, suffered the same fate.

Femme endormie and Tete de femme au chapeau mauve, both estimated to sell at $12-18 million, passed without finding buyers.

Another disappointment was Matisse's La robe violette, which had been estimated at $4-6 million, with Renoir's La Lecon, estimated at $5-7 million, and Alberto Giacometti's bronze Femme de Venise, estimated at $10-15 million, following suit.

There were bright spots. Bidding sent Picasso's La femme qui pleure, estimated at $1.5-2.5 million, shooting up to a final sale of $5.12 million, a world record for a single print.

The Stolen Mirror, by surrealist Max Ernst, also saw a record for the artist, selling at $16.32 million, far above the $4-6 million estimate.

"It was difficult. The market seems more sensitive and more selective than we thought," said Thomas Seydoux, Christie's director for impressionist and modern art.

On Wednesday, rival Sotheby's holds its impressionist sale. Next week both houses will hold sales of contemporary art.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 November 2011 12:24

Christie’s selling tickets to Elizabeth Taylor exhibit

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Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 08:53

Elizabeth Taylor. Courtesy MPTV Images.

NEW YORK (AP) – Tickets for a New York City exhibition of Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry and other possessions have gone online.

The 10-day exhibition will open Dec. 3 at Christie's New York auction galleries.

Beginning Dec. 13, Christie's will sell the late Hollywood star's collection over four days. The sale also includes Taylor's designer clothes, handbags, memorabilia, and fine and decorative art.

No tickets to the exhibition will be sold at the door or by phone.

Part of the profits from exhibition admissions, events and publications will be donated to The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

Priced at $30 per person, the tickets can be purchased at .

Taylor died in March at age 79.



The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation:

Copyriught 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 November 2011 09:24

Bidders pass up Kevorkian paintings, suicide machine

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Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 31 October 2011 12:15

Jack Kevorkian's signature blue cardigan sweater. Image courtesy of Hutter Auction Galleries.

NEW YORK (AP) – A suicide machine belonging to Dr. Jack Kevorkian was withdrawn Friday from an auction of the assisted-suicide advocate's possessions after failing to draw a high enough bid, while 17 of his paintings tied up in a legal dispute with a suburban Boston museum found no takers.

The paintings, including one Kevorkian did with a pint of his blood, and about 100 other personal items went on sale at the New York Institute of Technology. The estate had estimated the value of the 17 paintings at $2.5 million to $3.5 million.

Images of the paintings were displayed instead of the actual works because the Armenian Library and Museum of America has refused to surrender them.

Roger Neal, a spokesman for the Kevorkian estate, said he was not surprised that the paintings did not sell.

“I'm not sure how many people wanted to bid on artwork that was in litigation,” he said.

The suicide machine had been estimated to sell for $100,000 to $200,000, but the highest bid was $65,000, said Neal's colleague, Lester Schecter.

“People just didn't bid on the big stuff,” he said.

The assisted-suicide machine, known as a Thanatron, delivers intravenous drugs that put the person to sleep and then stops the heart. It was built out of household tools, toy parts, magnets and electrical switches.

Kevorkian sparked the national right-to-die debate with a homemade suicide machine that helped end the lives of about 130 ailing people. He was convicted of second-degree murder in 1999 for assisting in the 1998 death of a Michigan man with Lou Gehrig's disease. He was released from prison in 2007.

He died in June in suburban Detroit at age 83, leaving his property to his niece and sole heir, Ava Janus of Troy, Mich.

Other auction highlights included a bulletproof vest and his sweaters. Kevorian's last painting, made a year before his death, also was for sale and was not among the group of disputed works. Titled 9th Amendment, the pop art-style work depicts a U.S. treasury bill with an image of James Madison.

The proceeds will go to Janus and the charity Kicking Cancer for Kids.

Successful bidders of the disputed paintings would have had to make a 10 percent deposit that would have been held in escrow.

The Armenian Library and Museum of America, in Watertown, Mass., said the paintings were donated by Kevorkian, who was of Armenian descent.

Its attorney, Harold W. Potter Jr., has said the museum believes in good faith that it owns the paintings and they will stay put until the dispute is resolved.

Both sides have filed lawsuits.

Many of the paintings depict death or dying. One is titled Genocide and features a bloody head being dangled by the hair and held by the hands of two soldiers, one wearing a German military uniform from World War II and the other wearing a Turkish uniform from World War I. Kevorkian painted the head using his blood.



Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP-WF-10-29-11 0201GMT




Last Updated on Monday, 31 October 2011 12:32

Prendergast painting discovered in box of art tops $165K at Clarke's

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Written by ACN Staff   
Friday, 28 October 2011 13:39

The newly discovered Prendergast painting, circa 1892-1894, measures 9 1/2 inches by 6 3/4 inches. Image courtesy of Clarke Auction Gallery.

LARCHMONT, N.Y. – A small painting pulled from a box of artwork dropped off at Clarke Auction Gallery last month became a once-in-a-lifetime find for the consignor when it sold on Oct. 23 for $165,910, inclusive of the buyer’s premium. Under a layer of dust, the unframed oil on panel painting of a woman seated in a café was signed “Prendergast, Paris.”

Ronan Clarke, owner of Clarke Auction Gallery, and appraiser/auctioneer Nelia Moore, recognized the quality of the work and the name as being that of American painter Maurice B. Prendergast (1858-1924), who studied art in Paris in the early 1890s.

“It was more typical of his early work done in Paris. He brightened up his paintings a lot after he came back to America,” said Clarke, adding that determining the $40,000-$60,000 estimate was difficult.

“Many collectors like his brighter paintings," said Clarke. “This painting – of an elderly woman with a veiled face – is more important historically.”

Clarke took the painting to Nancy Mowll Mathews, the Prendergast catalogue raisonné expert at Williams College Museum of Art in Massachusetts, who authenticated it as one of the artist’s early works.

“It’s in as-is condition, of course. It hadn’t been touched in a hundred years,” said Clarke.

Opening at $20,000, the painting quickly passed six figures and ultimately hammered for $140,000 to a bidder in the gallery.

“I was pleasantly surprised – very pleased,” said Clarke. “We’ve been on a roll lately. We’ve sold a painting for a million dollars and sold paintings for a quarter of a million. It’s been a good year.”

The lucky consignor was also happy with the result, said Clarke.

“He’s a regular consignor – a hard worker who does a lot of cleanouts. Never a nuisance.”

And with a find like that, he never will be.

The fully illustrated catalog with prices realized from Clarke Auction Gallery’s auction of Oct. 23 is available at .


Click here to view the fully illustrated catalog for this sale, complete with prices realized.
Last Updated on Friday, 28 October 2011 14:51

Wright will conclude 2011 with Important Design sale Dec. 15

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Written by Auction House PR   
Wednesday, 19 October 2011 14:05

Sculptures by Harry Bertoia from the Stahr collection. Image courtesy of Wright.

CHICAGO –Wright will conclude the year on Dec. 15 with their Important Design auction, a biannual sale featuring rare and significant works of the 20th century. will provide Internet live bidding.

Important Design is comprised of a number of works from prominent collectors and distinguished interiors as well as exceptional forms by the 20th century’s leading artists and designers. The sale includes more than two dozen sculptures by Harry Bertoia, including an excellent Gong and an unparalleled selection of sculptures from the Stahr Collection.

Italian master Gio Ponti features prominently in this sale with a selection of works designed for Villa Arreaza, Caracas (1956), one of two complete residential commissions completed by the designer in Venezuela. Modernist Ettore Sottsass is represented with a large collection of rare glass forms, each from a small edition. And finally, a great collection of beautifully crafted works from the Henry R. Levy House, an interior designed by Samuel Marx, will be introduced to the market for the first time.

Additional highlights include a matched pair of Long chairs by George Nakashima, a mobile by George Rickey and a Stack Pot by Peter Voulkos. Numerous architectural artifacts from Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan buildings and a selection of works by Isamu Noguchi, including a rare bowl, will be sold alongside important works by Gabriella Crespi, Paul Evans, Max Ingrand, Gino Sarfatti, Roger Tallon, Jean Prouvé and other notable designers.

Important Design features nearly 250 works of exceptional design. Each item will be featured in Wright’s award-winning, full-color auction catalog as well as presented in our online preview at Gallery preview will open Dec. 8 and run through Dec. 14, open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday by appointment, located at Wright, 1440 W. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60642.

For details about this sale, visit Wright’s website or phone 312-563-0020.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 14:25

Auctioneer Gene Shapiro presents lecture on 'Russian Renaissance'

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Written by Auction House PR   
Thursday, 13 October 2011 08:07

Gene Shapiro, Russian art expert and founder of Gene Shapiro Auctions.

NEW YORK – Gene Shapiro, Russian art expert and founder of Gene Shapiro Auctions, opened a six-part lecture series for appraisers at the Salmagundi Club on Oct. 3 with a presentation on Russian art. Titled “A Russian Renaissance,” Shapiro’s seminar informed members of the American Appraisers Association about an important category of art that is little known in the West.

As the founder of America’s only independent auction house specializing in Russian art, Gene Shapiro is uniquely qualified to speak on the subject, which has had a global market only since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

As Shapiro stated, “There is generally a lack of knowledge in the West about Russian art, particularly among professionals.”

The seminar came just weeks before the Russian art sale at Gene Shapiro Auctions on Nov. 19. For the appraisers in the audience it was an opportunity to absorb the history and cultural importance of Russian art.

Shapiro handled the subject comprehensively, offering a slide show of significant Russian works that are as well known to the Slavic peoples as the works of Da Vinci, Monet and Rockwell are to Westerners. Among the notable Russian artists known to every school child, businessman and intellectual are names such as Shishkin, Vasnetsov, Repin and Aivazovski. In fact, Shishkin’s Morning in a Pine Forest is so beloved that it appears in everything from textbooks to candy wrappers.

Paralleling the importance of secular art are the Russian icons that gained a strong following among foreigners as early as the 19th century. Statements of faith, the icons date to the advent of Christianity in Russia, circa the 10th century.

Moving on to Russian Classical painting, Shapiro cited the vision of Peter the Great, known as the king who opened a “Window on the West.” During his reign, Western art and architecture had a profound impact on Russian art and architecture.

From the Russian Academy to modernism, realism and folkorism, Russian art evolved on much the same trajectory as Western art, with the exception of Soviet social realism. The Russian émigrés—Chagall, Malevich, Kandinsky, Rodchenko, and Burliuk among them—heavily influenced advancements in Western art.

A strong post-Soviet economy and the freedom to rediscover Russian culture and heritage has had its effect on a collecting category that, merely 40 years ago, was as closeted as Russia.

Shapiro was born in St. Petersburg and raised in the United States. He is a licensed and bonded auctioneer in New York City. Gene Shapiro Auctions is located at 506 E. 74th St., New York, NY 10021.

Gene Shapiro Auctions will hold its next international sale of Russian art, European and American art and works of art on Nov. 19. For more information on Shapiro and Gene Shapiro auctions, please visit Shapiro can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Last Updated on Thursday, 13 October 2011 09:38

Christie’s to sell Degas bronze ballerina sculpture

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Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 08:51

This wax version of Degas’ famous ‘Dancer’ is in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

NEW YORK (AP) – A bronze sculpture of a young ballerina by French impressionist Edgar Degas will lead Christie's New York auction of impressionist and modern art next month with a presale estimate of $25 million to $35 million.

Little Dancer Aged Fourteen is being offered on Nov. 1.

The work depicts the ballerina standing with her chin tilted up and hands clasped behind her back.

The original was made of tinted wax, with real hair and a fabric bodice. Degas exhibited it only once, in 1881 in Paris.

After his death in 1917, his heirs had 28 versions cast in bronze.

Most are in museums. Ten are in private hands, including the one in Christie's sale.



Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 12:12

Michaan's Auctions names De Doncker Fine Arts Director

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Written by Auction House PR   
Friday, 30 September 2011 14:35
ALAMEDA, Calif. – Michaan's Auctions has announced the appointment of Thomas de Doncker as their new Fine Arts Director, effective Oct. 3.

In his position De Doncker will be responsible for directing the department in the marketing of American and European fine art from all periods and mediums as well as the appraisal and cataloging of art works.

De Doncker brings with him accreditation from New York University with a certificate in Appraisal Studies, a master of arts degree from the University of Kansas and a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Wisconsin. He has also been awarded a doctoral fellowship from the City University of New York Graduate Center and been a Murphy Recipient at the University of Kansas.

De Doncker has over 20 years of fine art experience, serving as a director of Fine Arts Midwest at Butterfields, Chicago; an American Paintings Specialist at Butterfields, San Francisco; director of American Paintings at Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe and Fine Arts Conservator at Thomas Yost Conservation, New York City. Most recently he was founder and president of the Chicago Art Auction and founded Thomas de Doncker Fine Arts Gallery in Chicago as well. De Doncker has also enjoyed recognition as a published art commentator, guest lecturer and television personality, appearing as a fine art expert on Appraise It!, At the Auction and The Appraisal Fair from the Home & Garden television series.

Scott Bradley, vice president and chief operating officer of Michaan’s, welcomed De Doncker, stating, “We are excited and thrilled about the knowledge, experience and expertise Thomas has to share with our staff and valued clientele.”

For a full listing of upcoming auctions or to view a complete catalog, please visit .





Last Updated on Friday, 30 September 2011 14:41

Astronaut Alan Shepard's letter sells for $106,000

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Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 14:48

Alan Shepard aboard Freedom 7 before the launch in 1961. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

AMHERST, N.H. (AP) – A letter future astronaut Alan Shepard wrote to his parents in New Hampshire about trying out for the “Man in Space” program has been sold for more than $100,000.

RR Auction of Amherst says the rare handwritten letter sold Thursday night for $106,228, about $25,000 more than auction officials had expected.

In the 1959 letter, Shepard, who was born in Derry, N.H., tells his parents that he would volunteer if asked to pilot America's first mission into space—a job he later won. A rocket-powered suborbital flight on May 5, 1961, made Shepard the first American man in space.

Shepard died in 1998.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-23-11 1627GMT


Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 15:03
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