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

(continued from page 3)

Next comes a stunning and decidedly petite Cartier woman's wristwatch from the early 1930s, estimated at $3,000 to $4,000. Underscoring his observation that the more unusual the watch, the more attention it will elicit, Friedman points out the enameled American flag motif that slides up to reveal the white dial. "I expect it will generate quite a bit of interest," he says, "because it's not something people see everyday. It has an interesting aesthetic appeal."  

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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