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Mitchell Sketches Double Expectations at Swann Auction

“In recent years, there have been many important changes in substance and in procedure in how appraisals of works of art are treated for tax purposes,” Gilbert Edelson, administrative vice president and counsel of the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), told audience members at the Oct. 14–15 “Visual Arts and the Law” conference in

NEW YORK—A 1954–55 sketchbook of 52 pencil, crayon and ink drawings by Joan Mitchell was the highlight of Swann Galleries’ Nov. 18 sale of American and contemporary art, selling for $144,000, more than twice the $50,000/75,000 estimate. Consigned by a private collector, the work was purchased by a dealer in the saleroom who was “very determined,” according to Todd Weyman, Swann’s director of prints and drawings and the auctioneer for this sale. “From $60,000 on, there were two bidders, both dealers, the other one on the phone.”

Some of the sale’s higher-estimated lots met with resistance from buyers. In all, 236, or 74 percent, of the 321 lots in the sale found buyers, earning $1.1 million and falling just within the $1.1 million/1.6 million estimate.

There were many solid prices. Jim Dine’s charcoal drawing Visiting with Charcoal I, 1980,earned $24,000 (estimate: $10,000/15,000), while Andrew Wyeth’s pencil Study of Hands, 1955 (estimate: $15,000/20,000) and Karel Appel’sgouache Deux Oiseaux, 1958 (estimate: $10,000/15,000) both brought $22,800. Winslow Homer’s Spring: The Shepherdess of Houghton Farm, 1906, sold for $20,400 (estimate: $20,000/30,000), Keith Haring’s set of four color screenprints Pop Shop III, 1989, sold for $19,200 (estimate: $12,000/18,000) and Andy Warhol’s color screenprint Paramount, 1985, sold for $19,200 (estimate: $20,000/30,000).

Bought-in lots included Reginald Marsh’s ink and watercolor wash In the Surf, Coney Island, 1946 (estimate: $30,000/50,000) and his watercolor Manhattan Skyline with Brooklyn Bridge, 1929(estimate: $12,000/18,000).

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