Sunday, January 24, 2010
The Big Dance Part 1
Andrew here, just having returned from Americana Week in New York. Four days that included previewing four auctions, attending two, and going to three big shows. So how'd it go?
At Christie's, the offerings were a bit sparse, but some quality stuff. Best thing was that the estimates were notably conservative. Unfortunately, the sale felt a bit off...a number of passes and objects selling below estimate. A notable exception was the wonderful double portrait by Ammi Phillips (pictured here) that exceeded its estimate, selling for just about three-quarters of a million dollars. As one might have expected, the Skull and Bones ballot box, made from a real skull, was withdrawn, and is probably already back in New Haven by now.
At Sotheby's, a stronger offering with more variety (including more and better silver and the Elinor Gordon collection of Chinese export porcelain). The sale proved a good one, including a mind-blowing new world record for a piece of American silver that brought nearly $6 million.
I also previewed the Bonham's and the Keno sales, which included some good Americana and marine art...we'll have to wait to see the results.
My thoughts on the auctions? It's tough to get the top-shelf consignments in this economy. Many collectors are holding on to their treasures in the hopes that the market will return to pre-recession levels. I don't know that the market will get back there anytime soon, and even if prices to get back in that general ballpark, I am not sure that the market can absorb all that will be thrown at it without some prices suffering. But I suppose we'll find out over the coming years.
Up next time--the shows....