NEW YORK—Auction house owner Leslie Hindman said the inaugural sale of African American art, on March 1, was a “terrific start,” with all 39 lots finding buyers. This is the first of what are to be twice-yearly sales in this category, with the next scheduled for Sept. 20.
Topping the sale was Robert Duncanson’s oil titled The Apennines, Italy, 1867, which sold for $26,840, albeit missing the estimate of $30,000/50,000, and Alma Thomas’s watercolor on paper Abstract Composition, 1972, which brought $21,960, compared with an estimate of $8,000/12,000.
One lot that far exceeded its estimate was Charles McGee’s undated, oil on board Ring Around the Rosy, which set a new auction record of $18,300, well above the $1,500/2,500 estimate. Three paintings by Hughie Lee-Smith all found buyers, though the prices missed the low estimate, including Acropolis II, 1984, which sold for $19,000, compared with an estimate of $20,000/30,000; The Veil, undated, which brought $16,120, on an estimate of $20,000/30,000; and Meditation, undated, which sold for $7,440, compared with an estimate of $8,000/12,000.
Hindman noted that all of the consignments were from private collectors in the Midwest, with most of the buyers based in the Midwest as well—Chicago in particular. Overall, the sale earned $196,481, within the presale estimate of $130,000/212,000.
With this new auction category, Leslie Hindman joins the New York-based Swann Galleries as the only other auctioneer holding dedicated, twice-yearly sales of African American art. African American art collecting “is still a very young market, and we’re adding new artists all the time,” said Nigel Freeman of Swann Galleries, which introduced dedicated sales in 2007.