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Art Market Watch

The universe of art fairs continues to expand, with gatherings coming up on all three U.S. coasts -- East, West and South.

Right now, the Outsider Art Fair is in full force in New York, bringing its annual dose of the intuitive and the visionary to the Puck Building in SoHo, Jan. 25, 27, 2002 (check back with Artnet Magazine on Monday for a detailed report). Organizer Sanford L. Smith & Associates have assembled 34 galleries from around the world, ranging from St. Etienne and Luise Ross in New York to Wasserwerk in Siegburg, Sailor's Valentine in Nantucket, Jimmy Hedges in Lookout Mountain and Pardee in Iowa City. This year, several Outsider artworks are being offered in a raffle (tickets are $25), with the drawing to take place on Sunday. Regular daily admission is $15.

Down south, the sixth annual Palm Beach International Art & Antique Fair opens in the International Pavilion of the Palm Beaches, Jan. 31-Feb. 10, 2002. Fair promoters David and Lee Ann Lester have invited over 75 dealers from Europe, the U.S. and South America, including Bernard & Benjamin Steinitz and Thibaut-Pomerantz from Paris, Galerie Thomas from Munich, Axel Vervoordt from Belgium, Noortman from Maastricht, Fred Leighton, MacConnal-Mason Gallery and Mallett from London. The vernissage on Jan. 31 benefits the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach; tickets begin at $250. Daily admission is $12.

Out west, the San Francisco International Art Exposition, put together by Thomas Blackman Associates, Jan. 18-21, has just closed up shop at Fort Mason Center. Word is that sales were good, especially for dealers with works by well-known artists. "Paulson Press had a beautiful new Martin Puryear print that was selling like hotcakes," said print dealer Deborah Ripley. "And Crown Point Press' booth was packed all the time." It looks like Blackman will continue to scheduled the fair in January (it had been held in September in the past).

But don't go away -- coming up in at Fort Mason is the sixth annual San Francisco Arts of Pacific Asia Show, Feb. 1-3, 2002, organized by Caskey & Lees. Some 75 dealers are to be on hand, ranging from Art of the Past (New York) and Asaka Fine Arts (California) to Linda Wrigglesworth (England) and Xanadu/Folk Art International (California). The gala preview on Jan. 32 benefits the education programs of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco; tickets are $175. Daily admission is $12.

Back in New York, of course, everyone is looking forward to the concurrent Armory Show 2002 at Piers 88 & 90 on the Hudson River at 48th and 50th Streets, and the Art Show, which is back at the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue between 67th and 68th Streets. Both shows are scheduled for Feb. 20-25, 2002.

Meanwhile, ARCO '02 -- the Feria International de Arte Contemporáneo -- is gearing up for Feb. 14-19, with 262 galleries from around the world as well as special curated sections.

And for the art historians -- don't ask about the market -- the College Art Association rolls into Philadelphia for its 90th annual conference, Feb. 20-23, with more scholarly papers than you can shake a stick at.

Does anyone in the art world ever stay at home?

In what is certainly the wittiest and possibly the most insightful report on this year's Winter Antiques Show, which is on view at the Hilton Hotel, Jan. 20-27, New York Observer columnist and veteran Barney's window-dresser Simon Doonan proclaims "Gold and opulence are back," noting the gilt console from the Vanderbilt Mansion at Hirschl & Adler Galleries and gold neo-classical urns at Darte Frères.

After holding forth at amusing length on the prices -- "a work table for $285,000? Who needs to work if you've got $285,000?" -- and noting that the Antiques Show crowd is very "Gay '90s" -- the men are gay, the women are in their 90s -- Doonan does recommend the gaudy '60s jewelry at James Robinson and Macklowe as well as "unbelievably beautiful" 16th- and 17th-century suits of armor at Peter Finer. For the complete column, click here.

Sotheby's series of Americana auctions in New York last week, Jan. 14-19, 2002, brought a total of $27.3 million, which the house says is the highest ever for a series of American Week sales. A total of six single-owner sales were included:
  • The collection of Mr. and Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland was 98 percent sold by lot for a total of $12.6 million. 24 lots sold for over $100,000.
  • The American folk art collection of Sandy and Julie Palley sold for $3.6 million, double its high estimate. Top lot was a 19th-century Pennsylvania painted fireboard that sold for $335,750, over a presale high estimate of $250,000.
  • Property from the collection of Richard and Joy Kanter totaled $1.3 million. Highlight was a portrait of Samuel Tracey Coit by the Dennison Limner (Joseph Steward), ca. 1790, that sold for $126,750 (est. $60,000-$80,000).
  • 100 years of American silver, 1690-1790, including the inventory of the First Church of Christ Congregational, Milford, Conn., totaled $2,172, 125, just over the high estimate. The newly discovered two-handled silver cup with cover from 1715 by the father of American silversmithing, John Coney, sold for $775, 750, matching the auction record for American silver.
  • Property from the collection of Gunston Hall Plantation sold for a total of $1.8 million in the deaccession of 250 items by the museum that would not have been appropriate in the home of an 18th-century Chesapeake planter. One highlight was a set of six Chippendale carved and figured mahogany dining chairs that sold for $368,750, well over its presale high estimate of $100,000.
  • Selections from Israel Sack, Inc., brought $2.2 million. Top lot was a Federal mahogany kidney-dial mantle clock by Aaron Willard from 1780-1800, which brought $170,750.
The two-day sale of some 600 lots of American furniture, silver and folk art on Jan. 18-19 at Christie's New York totaled $10,752,800, with 83 percent of the lots finding buyers. The cover lot -- actually two lots -- a pair of gilt rosewood card tables, ca. 1815, by Charles Honoré Lannuier, sold for $611,000 each, in the middle of their presale $500,000-$800,000 estimate. A Queen Anne carved walnut side chair, ca. 1740-55, sold for $666,000, while an engraved silver tankard from 1710 New York sold for $534,000, well above its high estimate of $350,000. One big surprise was a molded copper squirrel weathervane, dating from the late 19th century (and including patched rifle holes), that soared to $292,000, over a presale estimate of $4,000-$6,000; buyer was Boston antiques dealer Stephen Score. The pair of "saddle" pistols, ca. 1775-76, presented by the Marquis de Lafayette to George Washington, sold for $1,986,000, a record for any firearm offered at auction.

Fast on the heels of Americana Week is Old Master Week, which brought dealers from around the world to bid at the Old Master auctions regularly held in New York in January. Christie's started things off on Wednesday, Jan. 23, with a two-part sale of Old Master drawings. The sale of master drawings from the Martin Bodmer Foundation, a public library in Zurich founded in 1971, totaled $1.8 million, with 36 of 46 lots finding buyers. Top price was paid for a Watteau drawing of a head of a man, which went for $248,000, over its presale high estimate of $120,000.

The second part of the sale offered 133 lots, of which 103 sold, or 77.5 percent, for a total of $6.4 million. Auctioneer Noel Annesley called the sale "extremely enjoyable," and noted the top lot of a head of a man by Il Parmigianino, "completely unknown to scholars and collectors," which went for $765,000, over its presale high estimate of 4120,000, to Jean-Luc Baroni.

Sotheby's Old Master paintings sale on Jan. 24 was a three-catalogue affair, numbering some 230 lots -- which sold for an overall total of $33 million.

The day began with 48 works from an unnamed private collector, all sold without reserve, that went for $6.2 million, just above the overall low presale estimate. Top lot was Laurent de la Hyre's Landscape with Two Women, which sold for $467,750, below its presale low estimate of $500,000.

The "unnamed collector" is Jaqui Safra, nephew of billionaire Edmond J. Safra, killed in a hotel fire in Monte Carlo in 1999. He took a $1.1 million loss on the sale, according to Carol Vogel in the New York Times.

Next up was "Revolution in Art," which was 69 percent sold, with 53 of 77 lots offered finding buyers, for a total of almost $7 million. Both top lots were bought by Sayn Wittgenstein Fine Art on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and set records for the artists at auction (don't tell Mayor Bloomberg until after he makes the year's budget allocations). The first was an elegant portrait of the scandalous femme fatale, Princesse de Talleyrand (otherwise dubbed "La Belle Indienne"), done ca. 1804-05 by François Gérard, that sold near its high presale estimate for $1,875,750. The second was a ca. 1730 portrait of Gustavus Hamilton by Rosalba Carriera that sold for $621,750, well over its high estimate of $200,000.

The portrait of Madame Talleyrand was bought by Met supertrustee Jayne Wrightsman, and will hang in the museum next to a Pierre-Paul Prud'hon portrait of Talleyrand himself.

Sotheby's third catalogue of the day was dubbed "Important Old Master Paintings," and the sale totaled $20.1 million. The cover lot, a portrait of Peter the Apostle done by Anthony Van Dyck, sold for a record price of $3.1 million, well over the top presale estimate of $800,000. The buyer was an anonymous European collector. Van Dyck's portrait of the Apostle Thomas, one of the same series as the Peter portrait, ssold for just over $2 million. The sale also set a world auction record for George Romney, whose lovely ca. 1784 portrait of Lady Sullivan went for $764,750 (est. $150,000-$200,000).

Sotheby's sale of some 330 lots of Old Master drawings on Jan. 25 totaled almost $3 million. Top lot was St. Jerome and the Lion by Giorgio Vasari, that soared above its $50,000-$70,000 estimate to sell for $236,750.

Over at Christie's, the house offered Old Master paintings on Jan. 25, selling 55 of 74 lots, or 75 percent, for a total of $9.3 million. The two top lots set auction records for the artist: Pier Francesco Mola's painting of An Artist and a Youth sold for over $3 million (est. $300,000-$500,000), and a landscape with the conversion of St. Paul by Herri met de Bles, Il Civetta, went for $732,000 (est. $300,000-$500,000).

Sotheby's New York briefly put on exhibition this week at its York Avenue headquarters a small number of items from "David Sylvester: The Private Selection," a 149-lot sale of furniture, tapestries, art and artifacts scheduled for Feb. 26 in London. The items come from the estate of the great British art critic, who died last June at age 76. The show included two Barnett Newman etchings, a Gupta sandstone torso of a Buddha (est. $84,000-$113,000), a group of five de Kooning women in charcoal (est. $21,000-$28,000 each), an Imperial Roman head (est. $75,000-$125,000) and several African masks. Absent was the "magnificent and terrifying" (in the words of former Sotheby's head Lord Gowrie) portrait of Sylvester done by Cecily Brown, the critic's daughter with Shena MacKay, that hung over the bed at Sylvester's Notting Hill home, and which is not included in the sale. Concurrent with the auction is an exhibition at Tate Modern, "Looking at Modern Art: In Memory of David Sylvester," Jan. 17-Mar. 24, 2002.