NEW YORK—Skinner’s Sept. 7 sale of American and European art produced $2.5 million, nearing the top end of the $1.7/2.5 million presale estimate that the Boston auctioneer had placed on the 806 lots in the two-session sale. Of these, 79 percent were sold.
The top seller was Milton Avery’s 1951 oil-on- canvas Strange Fish, which earned $215,000, outdistancing the auctioneer’s $80,000/120,000 estimate. “We had all ten phones going for that piece,” Colleene Fesko, Skinner’s director of American and European art, told ARTnewsletter, adding that the winning bidder was a New York City dealer.
Among other top-selling lots: Abbott Fuller Graves’ On the Deck, at $70,500 (estimate: $30,000/50,000); Avery’s Landscape with Cow, at $63,450 (estimate: $80,000/120,000); Bernard Buffet’s 1953 Provincial Interior, at $58,750 (estimate: $25,000/35,000); John LaFarge’s The Enchantress, at $47,000 (estimate: $15,000/25,000); and George William Sotter’s Pennsylvania, at $47,000 (estimate: $30,000/50,000).
‘Queens’ Leave Numbers in the Dust
Four “Reigning Queens (Royal Edition)” prints from 1985, by Andy Warhol (1928-87), all surpassed their high estimates: Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, $41,124 (high estimate: $25,000); Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, $24,675 (high estimate: $15,000); Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, $22,325 (high estimate: $15,000); and Queen Ntombi of Swaziland, $8,225 (high estimate: $7,000).
There were surprises, but all for fully attributed works, if by somewhat obscure artists. The most notable was a painting by Russian Aleksei Petrovich Bogolyubov, titled . . . Normandie/A Coastal View with Sailing Vessels, which flew far past its $2,200 high estimate to take $55,813 from a Russian collector living in the U.S. Additionally, higher-than-estimated prices were paid for two portrait miniatures of children by Laura Coombs Hills (1859-1952).
One, Helen Harlow, earned $47,000, nearly eight times its high estimate of $6,000; and the other, Portrait of a Child, Purportedly Augustus Hemenway . . ., fell for $19,975, nearly quintupling the $4,000 high estimate.
An oval Cubist Still Life, in gouache and graphite on paper, by French artist Louis Marcoussis (1883-1941), went for $16,450, more than eight times the $2,000 high estimate; and a 1904 oil, After a Day in the Fields, by Russian Vladimir Egorovich Makovsky (1846-1920), took $25,250, more than seven times its $3,500 high estimate. Skinner’s Fesko reports that all these works were “competed for very strongly.”
Several works fell for well below the expected amounts, including Robert William Wood’s Desert View with Butte, which took $5,875 against an estimate of $10,000/15,000; and Louise Nevelson’s 1977 sculpture Black Cryptic LXV, which made a low $8,813 against an estimate of $15,000/25,000.