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Auctions

Bidding for Time
Judd Tully
From the Print Edition:
J.P. Morgan, Mar/Apr 00

(continued from page 1)

Upcoming watch auctions will take place at: Antiquorumn Auctioneers, held in the Grand Havana Room at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York City on March 16. Preview exhibitions from March 7 to 15. Contact: (212) 750-1103. Christie's New York will hold an auction at 20 Rockefeller Center on April 12. Previews are tentatively scheduled for April 8-11. Contact: (212) 636-2321. Phillips Auctioneers' New York sale of Fine and Period Jewelry will take place at 406 East 79th Street on April 16. Preview April 12-15. Contact: (212) 570-4830.  

Judd Tully covers the New York art and auction scene for a variety of publications, including the London Antiques Trade Gazette.    

AUCTION REPORT  

At Christie's glitzy evening sale of twentieth-century art last November, a petite-sized (7 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches) Pablo Picasso painting, Sleeping Nude from 1933, sold for $2,092,500, comfortably nicking its $1.8 million high estimate. Fresh to the market from the estate of Princess Lucile Sherbatow, who acquired it from a New York gallery in 1936, the decidedly sexy and souvenir-scaled oil painting of the artist's young mistress, Marie-Therese, drew intense bidding.  

Two nights later at Sotheby's, a much more impressive Picasso, Boy with Collar, failed to sell despite a final bid of $9.5 million. The picture of the pensive-looking circus performer, dating from 1905, at the height of the artist's much sought-after Rose Period, carried a pre-sale estimate of $10 million to $15 million. Even in this buoyant art market, discriminating buyers sometimes snub pictures carrying historical baggage. In this instance, the world-class Picasso had previously been sold at auction for a handsome $12.1 million at Christie's New York in 1995, apparently too recently for this market to endorse.  

The following week at Christie's New York's edgy contemporary art sale, a larger-than-life porcelain sculpture by Jeff Koons of the Pink Panther cartoon character roared to a record $1.8 million, dwarfing the artist's previous mark of $409,500 and more than doubling the piece's pre-sale high estimate. It probably helped that the adorable creature was embracing a busty blonde temptress, but the sculpture's rarity--"only" three other versions of the cast exist--was the primary reason that the market went absolutely wild. Rarity is a big plus at this stratospheric level. Kent Logan, the San Francisco-based investment magnate and contemporary art collector, was the lucky seller.  

Quality and freshness to the market were winning traits on December 14 at Christie's Beverly Hills in a sale of twentieth-century and contemporary art when Richard Serra's unique steel sculpture, Untitled (Isosceles Triangle), raced to $277,500 from an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. The brawny 8-foot-by-8-foot abstraction was executed by the acclaimed sculptor in 1975 and acquired by the late consignor in 1978. The 20-plus years off the market helped create the atmosphere for a stunning result.  

For tighter budgets, Andy Warhol's Details of Renaissance Paintings: Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venus, 1482, a portfolio of four signed and numbered screen prints from 1984 that interpret the storied beauty, sold for $32,200 (est. $15,000-$20,000) at Christie's Beverly Hills on December 13.    

AUCTION PREVIEWS  

Back-to-back evening sales of entertainment memorabilia and vintage Hollywood film posters fittingly showcase Butterfield & Butterfield's March 13 and 14 auctions in Los Angeles.  


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