Art News & Views

Auction Reports : What happened

Post Auctions


25th Feb

Doctor Who achieves a 100
In a packed saleroom 163 lots from the BBC archive of Doctor Who memorabilia were sold on February 25 at Bonhams, Knightsbridge, many selling for three, four or five times their pre-sale estimate.

The sale achieved a total of £253,158 with 100% of lots sold, with fans and collectors entering bidding wars in an attempt to acquire authentic, screen-used props. Competition was fierce and the top lot was an Imperial Dalek (Mk 1) which achieved an estimate-busting price of £20,400 (estimate £2,500-3,500). A second Imperial Dalek (Mk 2) made an equally impressive £15,600  both going to telephone bidders.

Cybermen, who featured regularly in the Classic series proved very popular with the highest price achieving the £9,600 mark nearly five times its pre-sale estimate (£1,800-2,500). Two versions of the Malus from 'The Awakening' episode were also bought for high prices. A large Malus mask went for £3,000 and the Malus miniature made £1,920.

David Tennantthe highly popular Doctor's pale blue shirt, worn in various episodes, was snapped up for £1,260  nearly five times the pre-sale estimate. Several items from Voyage of the Damned  the 2007 Christmas special in which Kylie Minogue starred as Tennant's assistant were also on offer. Her waitress outfit was bought for £3,120.

27th  February

The 1 million pound road run

Motorcycles, especially one-owner collections, never fail to excite the serious motorcycle collector and the Pamplona Collection sale held on February 27, at the RAF Museum, Hendon, was no exception. Consisting mainly of motorcycles manufactured before 1950, the Collection had been assembled over the past few years for the enjoyment of the owner's friends and family and was housed at various locations before transferring to a purpose-built museum home 12 months ago.

By the time the hammer fell on the final lot, 88% of the 109 machines offered had been sold for a premium-inclusive total of £1,033,855. The Collection's best result was achieved by an American motorcycle, the restored 1929 Cleveland Tornado four-cylinder, which sold for a premium-inclusive £48,800 against a top estimate of £40,000. Four-cylinder motorcycles were one of the Collection's themes. Other top performers in this category were the brace of American-built Hendersons, dating from 1920 and 1931, which sold for £29,325 and £36,150 respectively. Other 'fours' featuring strongly included the 1911 FN solo (£22,425), 1928 Indian Ace (£29,900) 1926 FN combination (£24,725) and 1936 Indian 'upside down' Model 436 (£31,050).

American-built v-twins showed strongly too, the 1926 Harley-Davidson Model J racer with overhead-valve conversion selling for £29,900, 1917 Indian Powerplus combination for £25,300 and 1930 Excelsior Super X for £22,425. The top performing British motorcycle was the modified circa 1954 Vincent Rapide Series C v-twin, which sold for £29,900 against a top estimate of £22,000, confirming the continuing strong demand for these classic Fifties road burners.

Star performer among the Collection's many Veteran-era (pre-1915) machines was the circa 1899/1900 Phebus tricycle, eligible for both the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run and the Sunbeam MCC Pioneer Run by virtue of its three wheels, which fetched £29,325. Other notable Veterans included the 1913 Matchless Model 7B combination, which sold for £21,850 and circa 1904 Laurin & Klement Slavia, which found a new home for £20,700. Without question the most bizarre machine on offer, the 1937 Böhmerland Langtouren three-seater sold for an on-estimate £36,150.

8th March

Oxford Motor Cars achieve £1 million

The Collectors' Motor Car and Automobilia sale in Oxford also had fetching results, totaling £1,017,317 and an 86% sale rate with 44 out of 51 car lots selling.

The top price (£166,500) was paid, as expected, for a fabulous 1956 Bentley S1 Continental Fastback with coachwork by H J Mulliner, while the other Bentley in the sale a 1964 Bentley S3 Continental Coupé with coachwork by H J Mulliner, Park Ward Ltd surpassed its estimate of £40,000 - 50,000, fetching an impressive £62,000.

The 1989 Ford RS200, Group B Homologation road car, attracted the second top price in the sale - £87,300. The 1936 Alvis Speed 25 Saloon was hotly contended for in a ten way bidding battle in which a number of European countries were represented. The car  a barn discovery eventually sold to an Irish bidder for £31,050, beating its estimate sale price of £18,000 - 22,000.

More modestly priced classics also performed well, including a 1986 Porsche 911 Turbo Coupé which sold for £21,562 against a pre-sale estimate of £10,000 - £15,000.

Among the automobilia lots, an electric powered half-scale Ford model T child's car sold for £9,200, an amount which could afford a real model, against an estimate of £4,000 - 5,000.

10th  March

Giacometti table makes to the top

A table designed by Diego Giacometti sold for £106,000 at Bonhams, New Bond Street on 10 March, as part of its Post War and Contemporary Art and Design sale. Entitled Table Torsade, and 1965 cast had belonged to the late English actor James Mason (1909-1984) since the late1960s.

Austrian painter Arnulf Rainier's Der Psychiatrist likewise far surpassed its estimate of £8,000 - 12,000, selling for a remarkable £54,000. Following a fierce bidding battle, David Hockney's Richard Neville Naked sold for £27,600. The picture was used, alongside drawings of Neville's co-editors of Oz magazine, Jim Anderson and Felix Dennis, to raise funds for the Oz obscenity trial in 1971, in which Neville, Anderson and Dennis were prosecuted for publishing a sexual Rupert Bear cartoon parody in an issue of the magazine edited by a group of school kids.

Other lots hotly contended for included Banksy's Lenin on Rollerblades, 2003 which sold for £16,800, and Marc Quinn's Heliotrop Morphology, 1997, which sold for £10,800.

An unrecorded fruitwood and vellum cabinet by one of the most important Italian architects and designers of the 20th century, Gio Ponti, sold for £14,400. Meanwhile Richard Hamilton's The Release, portraying Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, sold for £22,800 against a pre-sale estimate of £10,000 -  15,000 in the Pop and Op Art sale.

10th  March

Musical millions

A packed saleroom saw much enthusiastic bidding for a selection of Fine Musical Instruments at Bonhams auction on the same day (March 10), with 86% sold by value to make a magnificent total of £1,026,768.

An outstanding example of early craftsmanship was a violin attributed to Nicolo Amati which raised £54,000. Amati was an Italian violin maker from Cremona who was the early teacher of the great Antonio Stradivari. He single-handedly preserved and passed on the tradition of Cremonese violin making when he was the only violin maker in the city to survive the famine and plague of 1630.

Violins of all periods, from 17th century Venice to 19th century Milan, were available and made good prices. The top lot was an Italian violin made in Venice in 1692 by Matteo Goffriller which fetched £144,000.

A violin by Ferdinando Garimberti made in Milan in 1926 sold for £50,400 easily beating its estimate of £20,000-30,000.

There had been much pre-sale debate as to the creator of a silver mounted cello bow  lot 195 in the auction catalogue. Was it made by Francois Tourte, the French 19th century bow-maker, or was it a very good English copy? Bidding was fierce and the bow eventually made an outstanding £26,400 against a pre-sale estimate of £800-1,000.

17th March

Pictures stored in attic for 20 years set saleroom alight tumbling world records

Paintings by Stockport artist William Turner achieved world record prices at Bonhams Chester Picture sale on Wednesday March 17. William Turner, who was born in 1920, specialized in painting urban views based on the mills and streets of Manchester and Stockport.

Bonhams offered five important paintings dating from the 1960s and 70s, which generated great enthusiasm from local buyers and collectors. The top price of the day was £17,760 paid for a 1961 oil painting 'The City', purchased by a private collector. Three other paintings by Turner also attracted prices over £10,000. The paintings were all purchased for small sums in the 1970s in order to brighten up and enhance a Manchester textile factory. They have been in an attic since the factory closed about 20 years ago.

Bonhams auctioneer, Richard Hopkinson, commented after the sale: “I am amazed by the prices these works have achieved. It is fantastic that Turner's work is achieving the recognition it deserves.”

17th March

Helen Bradley crosses a million pounds

Bonhams sale of 20th Century British Art on March 17 once more exceeded expectations, making a £2 million total with a Helen Bradley picture going for £144,000, setting a new world record price for the painter.

Bradley (1900-1979), who started painting in her sixties, and died shortly before she was due to be honoured with an MBE, had previously commanded £97,000 as a best price at auction, said a delighted Matthew Bradbury, Head of 20th Century British Art at Bonhams. The world record picture titled `Blackpool Beach', a sunny image of bathers, had been estimated to sell for £70,000 to £90,000. Matthew Bradbury said that the sale had “produced strength across the board” with the 90 lots offered generally doing well.

Fourth highest price in the sale was for a recently discovered David Bomberg (1890-1957), `The Canal Lock', which sold for £84,000 against a pre-sale estimate of £30,000 - £50,000.

Other notable results from among the top ten in the sale included a beautiful picture by Sir Alfred James Munnings (1878-1959) titled `The Start, Newmarket' that made £524,000; a picture by Sir Kyffin Williams (1918-2006) titled `Bull' performed strongly with a £50,400 price against a pre-sale estimate of £8,000 - £12,000.

There was also an LS Lowry (1887-1976) 'Newtown' which went for £43,200, and a Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-1993) titled `Assassins' which made £62,400 having been expected to sell for £20,000 - £30,000.

24th  March

Mountbatten's bell exceeds estimate

The bell from HMS Kelly, the ship commanded by Lord Louis Mountbatten from 1939 until it sank at the Battle of Crete in 1941, and which inspired Noel Coward's famous wartime propaganda film In Which We Serve, sold for £7,800 against a pre-sale estimate of £2,500 – 3,500 on 24 March as part of The Marine Sale.

The bell was saved when HMS Kelly was decommissioned for seven months in May 1940.

An Admiral Lord Nelson George III gold and enamel mourning ring, one of 58 rings made by Salter and distributed by the Executors of Nelson's will to relatives, close friends and pall bearers at his funeral in 1805 fetched £14,400.

27th Feb

Fine Wines exceeds estimates

Christie's New York sale of Fine & Rare Wines on February 27 totaled $2,091,780 and was 94% sold by lot, 98% by value. The top lot was a 4-bottle lot of 1990 Romanée-Conti, which sold for $78,000.

What was interesting to note in this sale was the interest the wines garnered from Asia. More than double the customary number of bidders participated in this sale. A strong contingent of Internet bidders also helped fuel strong results across a very diverse sale that included selections from Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Italy and beyond. Prices for the top lots continued to reach $78,000 for four bottles of 1990 Romanée-Conti, $48,000 per case of 1990 La Tâche, and $45,600 per case of Lafite 1982.

6th March

Harry Bertoia exceeds expectations

The 20th Century Decorative Art and Design sale of Christie's in New York on March 6 fetched saw a Harry Bertoia untitled melt-coated brass and steel sculpture fetching $43, 750 against a highest estimate of $ 20,000. Other top draws included two Tiffany Studios creations, both 1910 curtain border leaded glass and Bronze Shade, which went at $43, 750 (higher estimate: $ 50,000) and $ 37, 500 (higher estimate $45,000).

10th March

Charles Camoin top lot at Impressionist & Modern Art

On March 10, the sale of Impressionist & Modern Art totaled $2,567,500 and was 91% sold by lot, and 93% sold by value. The top lot was Charles Camoin's La salle à manger à Saint-Tropez, fenêtre ouverte, no. 3, which sold for $140,500, well above its estimate of $60,000-80,000.

11th March

War and Contemporary Art Sale totals $ 7.5 million

Christie's First Open Post War and Contemporary Art Sale totaled $ 7.5 million and witnessed deep, global buying with works by Thiebaud, Warhol, and Kusama fetching the highest prices, and world auction records established for works by living artists, Yayoi Kusama and Glenn Ligon. The excellent results obtained reflect an independent and stable market that clearly views art as a viable store of value. It was particularly gratifying to see collectors react enthusiastically to fresh and rare works, such as the untitled early work by Keith Haring and Repetitive-Vision by Yayoi Kusama, which epitomize the philosophy behind First Open.

20th March

Tyeb Mehta crosses 1 million dollars

Osian's Masterpieces Series Auction held on Saturday, March 20 at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower in Mumbai registered a total sale of US$ 4.11mn including buyer's premium fulfilling the pre-auction expectations. Tyeb Mehta's 'Mahishasura' led the lots selling for INR 4.56 crores (US$1mn), followed by Akbar Padamsee's 'Christ' (INR 1.92cr) and S.H. Raza's 'Germination' (INR 1.56cr). Other highlights of the sale was Rameshwar Broota's 'Reconstruction' which fetched INR 1.26 crores.

The little jewel of a painting, a rare 1884 gouache by Raja Ravi Varma depicting Krishnaraja Wodeyar III's Coronation and the Himalayan landscape captured by Nicholas Roerich, both National Art Treasures (Non-Exportable), fetched INR 7,200,000 and INR 8,160,000 respectively. Signifying a definite demand for rare and quality works, 'Black Lillies' by Jehangir Sabavala brought in INR 5,880,000 (US$ 129,288) while 'Alphabet Stories II' by Gulammohammed Sheikh and 'Fisherwomen' by B. Prabha fetched INR 5,520,000 (US$ 121,372) and INR 4,320,000 (US$ 94,987) respectively. It is noteworthy that all National Art Treasures sold well above estimates.

Phillips de Pury
19th March

Sex sales

Phillips de Pury & Company's SEX sale totaled £1,370,038/$2,057,114 (including premium) selling75% by value and 69% of the total 217 lots, with numerous records established across categories for both emerging and established artists.

Allen Jones Soft Tread, 1966-67 set a world record selling for £361,250/$542,417 (pre-sale estimate of £60,000 - £80,000). This work's detailed rendering of the sensual curves and folds of the skin add to the sexual charge of the image by concentrating on both its tactility and fetishistic associations. Other noteworthy results include: Sigmar Polke, Untitled, 1974, £121,250/$182,057, Nobuyoshi Araki, Yakusa, 1994, £20,000/$30,030, Jenny Saville & Glen Luchford, Closed Contact #10, 1995-96, £67,250/$100,975.

10th – 11th March

Spring auction led by Husain

Saffron Art's spring auction, held between 10 and 11 March, was led by Husain, whose 'Untitled' went for $448,000, a clear winner over its closest competitor, a Subodh Gupta painting titled 'Doot', that was sold at $ 391,000. Others commanding top prices were Francis Souza's 'Decomposing Head' ($350,750), Akbar Padamsee's 'Prophet' ($278,875), S Raza's 'Prakriti Purush ($212,750) and Manjit Bawa's 'Untitled' ($197,421).

24th March

Syed Haidar Raza soars

A gilt copper alloy statue of Buddha ($314,500), from Tibet led the Indian and Southeast Asian Art sale at Sotheby's. Among the paintings, Syed Haidar Raza's acrylic on canvas with a Devnagri inscription 'let the heart be left in solitude' sold for $ 458,500 (estimate:$120,000–180,000)beating a Husain Oil on canvas Untitled piece ($182, 500) by a huge margin.

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