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Art Market Watch

New York's newest art exposition, the Antiquarian Fine Art Fair, opens in the Expo Center at Madison Square Garden, Nov. 30-Dec. 4, 2001. Including over 50 dealers from the U.S., Europe (notably, a contingent of 22 dealers from England) and elsewhere, the fair is organized by Jerome Eisenberg of Royal-Athena Galleries of New York and dealer Bruce Ferrini of Akron, Oh. Managing the fair is Kevin Looney, a veteran of the International Fine Arts Expositions in Palm Beach; fair designer is Nicolette Aubury.

With the other major New York fairs cancelled thanks to the unavailability of the armories, the new exposition has the field to itself. In addition, the Madison Square Garden location is conviently adjacent to Penn Station, making visits by out-of-towners particularly easy. The feature exhibition is "The Antiquarian Menagerie: 5,000 Years of Animals in Art," a special loan show of over 200 works from Eisenberg's own collection; another highlight is a group of 15 mannequins garbed in original 18th- and 19th-century costumes at Galerie Ruf of Deckenried, Switzerland, part of a Swiss collection of 100 examples. Both are on public view in the U.S. for the first time.

A benefit preview on Nov. 29 supports Thirteen WNET, the Public Broadcasting System flagship station in New York. Fair hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; admission is $15. For a complete list of exhibitors, visit the fair website at

Design mavens are rushing to get their hands on the new catalogue for Phillips' auction of "20th-21st Century Design Art," scheduled for Dec. 12, 2001, at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg in New York. The huge sale of 286 lots, organized by James Zemaitis in New York and Alexander Payne in London, is divided into several sections, including seven lots from the Austrian avant-garde, 81 from the Bauhaus, 16 lots by Le Corbusier, Jean Prouvé and other French Modernists, 20 lots by the "international avant-garde" (Aalto, Breuer, Rietveld), another 30 or so from French designers like Jean-Michel Frank, Jacques Adnet and Jean Royére, approximately 15 lots by American modernists, and the rest in categories called "Organic," "Pop and Radical" and "Contemporary."

Among the star lots is a looping chrome and fabric chaise by Hans Luckhardt, ca. 1931 (est. $15,000-$20,000), a recently discovered, unique Minnaert Desk of oak and plywood from 1940 by Gerrit Rietveld (est. $20,000-$30,000) and a biomorphic chess table made by Isamu Noguchi for the Julien Levy Gallery's 1944 "Chess Exhibition" (est. $35,000-$45,000). The sale closes with a selection of things by Michael Young, the hip London designer born in 1966, including the unique prototype for his Smarty "M&M" lozenge chair from 1994 (est. $6,000-$8,000).

The presale exhibition opens at Phillips' 57th Street headquarters on Dec. 7, 2001.

Last week's Latin American auctions in New York at Christie's, Nov. 19-20, 2001, and Sotheby's, Nov. 20-21, 2001, had "okay" results, according to one observer. Despite this close-mouthed assessment, Christie's boasted a total of almost $6 million for 75 of 133 lots sold, or 56 percent. New auction records were set for 11 artists, including Sergio Camargo, whose 1968 Untitled (triptych) went for $501,000, well past its top presale estimate of $90,000. Records were also set for William Ellis ($149,000), Pedro Gualdi ($143,500), Helio Oiticica ($82,250), Vik Muniz ($75,200), Doris Salcedo ($72,850), Wolfgang Paalen ($64,625), Nicolas Leiva ($30,550), Ruben Berland ($23,500), Noêmia Guerra ($9,400) and Cayetano Donnis ($5,875).

Sotheby's totaled almost $6.3 million for its Latin American sales. The evening sale sold 36 of 57 lots, or 63 percent, for more than $4.9 million; the daytime auction totaled $1.4 million, with 63 of 127 lots finding buyers, or about 50 percent. Top price was brought by a 1939 painting by the Chilean-born Surrealist Matta, Inscape (Psychological Morphology no. 104), which sold for $1,078,250, more or less at the top estimate of $1 million. The same work had sold at Sotheby's in 1994 for $552,500. Individual artist records were set for Francisco Toledo ($225,750), Augustin Cárdenas ($104,250), Ana Mendieta ($41,000) and Cristobol de Villalpando ($137,750), which is also a record for a single Colonial artwork at auction.

After a long battle, France's Conseil des ventes volontaires de meubles aux enchères publiques -- the Regulatory Council of Public Auctions -- has finally given the go-ahead for non-native auctioneers to hold sales in Paris. First up is Sotheby's at the Galerie Charpentier at 76, Rue du Faoubourg Saint Honore, on Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 1, 2001, with the library of Belgian collector Charles Hayoit. One prize lot is the manuscript of Andre Gide's The Counterfeiters, which is estimated to sell for as much as $675,000.

Viewings for Christie's inaugural auctions at its salesroom at 9, Avenue Matignon, begin on Dec. 1. The first sale, the Charles-Otto Zieseniss collection of Old Masters, 19th-century and decorative arts, is slated for Dec. 5; subsequent sales include the Rene Gaffe collection of tribal art, sold on Dec. 8 to benefit the Curie Institute, and the Karl Lagerfeld collection of 20th-century decorative arts, to be put on the block Dec. 13. Listen to the online audio welcome from Francois Curiel, chairman of Christie's Europe at the house website.
-- Walter Robinson