May was an exciting month in the world of online auctions. Keno Auctions, owned by American antiques expert Leigh Keno, set three world records during its Inaugural sale; Dargate Auction Galleries sold 756 lots to online bidders in its most successful online auction since joining Artfact Live! and Artcurial’s May 11th Hermès Vintage auction marked a 86% increase in overall sales and a 773% increase in online sales when compared to the same sale in 2009.
Keno Auctions, “Inaugural Sale: Session III” – May 2, 2010
Scrimshaw Whalebone Tooth Attributed to Ceres Artisans of Wilmington Delaware
Price Realized: $10,370
Keno Auctions’ May 2010 Inaugural Sale offered a wealth of fine antiques and Americana. Among the highlights were a pair of silver sauceboats by Paul Revere and a James Beekman Chippendale Chest of Drawers, which set a world record for a piece of New York furniture when it sold for $1,428,000 (including buyer’s premium). After the sale, owner Leigh Keno noted that there was “a lot of confidence in the market, with particular interest being shown in great American Folk Art.” It’s no wonder then that this Ceres Scrimshaw Whalebone tooth attracted the attention of online and in-house bidders alike. It’s believed that the “Ceres” teeth were created during an 1834-37 whaling voyage on the ship Ceres of Wilmington, DE. Once thought to be the work of a single individual, scholars have now identified four “Ceres” artisans from the 1830s. The recently discovered tooth is attributed to “Ceres Artisan B.” A relatively rare find, it is only one of twenty known works by this artisan. Estimated at $8,000 to $12,000, the tooth sold to an online buyer for $10,370 (including buyer’s premium).
Dargate Auction Galleries, “Spring 2010 Auction: Day III” – May 16, 2010
Philip and Kelvin LaVerne Etruscan Dining Table
Price Realized: $15,000
Dargate Auction Galleries’ Spring 2010 auction offered a variety of items – from Tiffany lamps to fine jewelry and everything in between. One of the highlights of the three-day auction was an “Etruscan” Dining Table by the father-son team of Philip and Kelvin LaVerne. Perhaps best known for their beautifully patinated metal furniture, both father and son turned to design after a stint in fine arts. Philip studied under Ashcan School painter John Sloan, while Kelvin worked with sculptor Seymour Lipton. Influenced by Chinese and Greek Antiquities, the LaVernes began making furniture together in the 1950’s. With its Greek influence and patinated bronze and pewter finish, the dining table is characteristic of the LaVerne’s aesthetic. Estimated at $10,000 to $20,000, the table sold online for $15,000.
Freeman’s, “Modern & Contemporary Works of Art” May 16, 2010
Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), “Lithographie Blau”
Price Realized: $15,000
Dated 1922, Kandinsky’s “Lithographie Blau” marks an important period in the artist’s development. The year before, Kandinsky was offered a teaching position at the Bauhaus – an architecture and art school whose mission was to combine crafts and fine arts. While teaching, the artist increasingly focused on geometric shapes – particularly circles, angles, straight lines and curves. With prominent circles and intersecting angles, the abstract design of “Lithographie Blau” is in keeping with Kandinsky’s work during the Bauhaus period. A proof apart from the number edition of 100, Freeman’s “Lithographie Blau” more than doubled estimates – selling to an online bidder for $15,000.
Alex Cooper Auctioneers, “Furniture, Fine and Decorative Arts, Paintings” -- May 16, 2010
Italian Carved Marble Group of Maenad and Young Faun
Price Realized: $7,500
Standing just 44” high, this classically inspired 19th Century marble group shows wonderful attention to detail. The group consists of a Maenad with a young Faun precariously perched atop her shoulder. The Maenad is clad in loose drapery and supported by a rough-hewn prop. Thanks to strong online participation, the Italian Carved figural group tripled estimates, selling to an online buyer for $7,500.
Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, “2010 Spring Feature Auction of Fine Art & Antiques, Day One” – May 22, 2010
Ottoman Military Belt & Box Silver 1856-1905
Price Realized: $8,500
Among the rarities offered in Thomaston Place Auction Galleries Spring 2010 Feature Auction was an early Ottoman ceremonial belt and cartridge box. Dated between 1856-1905 the ceremonial garb was from Tunisia – an Ottoman province since 1574. Decorated with gold brocade and lined with purple velvet, the silver repousse set was listed in generally good condition and estimated at $1,000 to $1,500. Thanks to the intense interest of one online bidder in particular, the belt and box skyrocketed past its pre-auction estimate—selling for $8,500.
Note: Auction lot details and enlarged lot images available at artfact.com with free registration.
Founded in 1989, Artfact is the largest global marketplace of fine and decorative arts, antiques, collectibles, and estate auctions. On January 1, 2009, Artfact launched Artfact Live!, its proprietary live auction bidding platform, enabling users to bid real time on auctions being held around the world by its prestigious auction house partners. Currently, over 1,000 fine auctioneers actively list their catalogues with Artfact.com and its U.K. sister site Invaluable.com, reaching the Artfact community of more than 10 million knowledgeable collectors and dealers worldwide. Artfact's industry leading database includes more than 57 million complete auction results totaling more than $204 billion in value, including information on more than 500,000 international artists. In 2006, Artfact acquired RFC Systems, the leading provider of enterprise software developed specifically for the fine art and antique auction house industry. RFC helps prestigious auction houses around the world manage their businesses by automating their day-to-day operations.