Magazine Home  |  News  |  Features  |  Reviews  |  Books  |  People  |  Horoscope  

Late Paracas
embroidered small poncho

Large Tairona gold
figural pendant

Mayan polychrome
cylinder vessel
artnet auction report: sotheby's pre-columbian

by Diana Gabrielle Erdos

A positive tone was set as prices at the Pre-Columbian sale today reached some record highs, and remained stable throughout.

The star lots: a late Paracas embroidered poncho and a large gold Tairona pendant were both purchased by duelling telephone bidders.

The "Ponchita" was offered early in the sale (lot 8) and was strangely under-estimated at $60,000 - $90,000; a complete example of Paracas ceremonial attire being rare. The brisk bidding quickly brought it up to a more respectable level and then the veritable feeding frenzy of rival telephone bidders elevated the price to $320,000.

The gold figural pendant, a fine example of Tairona goldwork, estimated at $150,000 - $250,000, reached a record $510,000. Pieces this large (height 5 1/4 inches) are extremely unusual. "You can wait 15 years for another piece this size," opined one museum specialist.

A stunning Cocle gold necklace of twin alligator pendants from the Parita region of the Azuero Peninsular reached its low estimate of $60,000. A masterful Tolita gold and platinum mask also reached its respectable estimate of $110,000.

Two Mayan cylinder vessels held their estimates at $28,000 and $30,000 respectively and surprisingly, a finely carved limestone sceptre was sold slightly under estimate at $50,000.

Of the 180 lots in the morning session only 44 were bought in. Of the remaining lots, 107 held their estimated values and 29 went for prices in excess of their estimates. Many of the more extravagant sales went to anonymous telephone bidders.

DIANA GABRIELLE ERDOS specializes in pre-Columbian art for ArtNet Magazine.