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    Monday, October 15th, 2018

    The Iznik charger.

    A c1480 museum quality Iznik charger will lead the Arts of the Islamic World auction at Sotheby’s in London on October 24. One of the most important pieces of Iznik pottery remaining in private hands, the large intact dish, or charger, represents a significant discovery in the field of Ottoman art.

    It belongs to the earliest group of Iznik – produced at the very advent of the art form during the reign of Mehmet II (‘the Conqueror’) – the finest examples of which are almost all held in museum collections across the globe. This small, and exceptionally rare, group of Iznik pottery is characterised by an intense, inky, blue-black colouring, which reflects the embryonic stage of firing control – roughly two decades before a brighter cobalt blue was accomplished.

    Among the other highlights of the sale are Persian and Indian paintings, an exceptional costume album for Ottoman Turkey in the 19th century, two rare ninth century works on astronomy in one volume and a Company School portrait of a large white heron.


    Thursday, October 11th, 2018

    Banksy – Love is in the Bin 2018

    Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the shredder the sale of Banksy’s Girl with Balloon was confirmed by Sotheby’s with the new title Love is in the Bin.

    “Banksy didn’t destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one. Following his surprise intervention on the night, we are pleased to confirm the sale of the artist’s newly-titled Love is in the Bin, the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction.” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s Head of Contemporary Art, Europe.

    The buyer, a female European collector, commented:  “When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realise that I would end up with my own piece of art history”.  She has confirmed her decision to acquire the new work at the same price of £860,000 at hammer and a final sale price of £1,042,000 with Sotheby’s commission.

    Banksy has a history with pranking art establishments, having previously pulled stunts in the Louvre, Tate Britain, the British Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum.

    (See post and video on for October 7, 2018)


    Friday, October 5th, 2018

    Propped – Jenny Saville

    There was a new auction record for a living female artist when Propped by Jenny Saville sold for £9.5 million at Sotheby’s in London tonight. The self-portrait that shatters canonised representations of female beauty propelled a young Jenny Saville to renown.  Eight bidders vied for the the remarkable painting in a bidding battle lasting more than 10 minutes.

    It is from the collection of visionary collector, patron and museum trustee, the late David Teiger. Proceeds will benefit Teiger Foundation – soon to be one of the world’s largest and most significant contemporary art foundations.

    Painted in 1992, Propped compelled collector Charles Saatchi to acquire every work by the artist that he possibly could, and subsequently included it in the pivotal 1997 exhibition, Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Gallery at the Royal Academy of Art. Sensation truly introduced Saville to the British public and the provocative nature of the exhibition sparked record queues and a media frenzy.

    The auction debut of Saville’s Propped follows the successful sale of the artist’s monumental Shift in June 2016 (est. £1.5-2 million), which tripled the auction record for the artist when it sold for £6.8 million to The Long Museum, Shanghai.


    Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

    The judges copy of Lady Chatterly’s Lover used in the celebrated literary trial in 1960 comes up at Sotheby’s in London on October 30.   It is regarded as the most celebrated obscenity trial in British literary history, during which D.H. Lawrence’s infamous novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, came under the spotlight.The court case heralded the transformation of the 1960s and helped to bring to birth a more liberal and permissive Britain. The trial resulted in the sale of two million books.

    The judge’s copy, annotated for him by his wife, and housed for purposes of discretion in a damask bag with ribbon tie, is far from the only copy of the book to have been read with particular attention to the sex scenes, but as a document of the event, it is arguably the most important copy to have survived to this day.  The book comes to auction 25 years after it was acquired by Christopher Cone as a present for his partner, the late Stanley J. Seeger. The annotated novel, together with its silk covering and hand-written list inserted within, is now estimated at £10,000-15,000.

    A Private View: Property from the Country Home of Christopher Cone and Stanley J. Seeger is encyclopaedic in content, with objects ranging in date from the 5th century A.D. to the second half of the 20th century. Creators as diverse as Fabergé and Picasso are set to jostle with items which carry exceptional provenances, from Edward, Prince of Wales and Lord Byron to Marilyn Monroe. Defined by its modesty, not only through the large number of small-scale objects, but also by the unassuming way in which it was assembled, the collection is marked by Seeger and Cone’s inquisitive spirit. With estimates starting at £100 and climbing to £40,000, the sale is expected to bring in the region of £1 million.


    Thursday, September 20th, 2018

    Fine art, decorative art and furniture collected by the Frank and Barbara Sinatra, as well as objects and memorabilia left to Barbara upon her husband’s passing, and her jewellery and accessories will come up at  series of auctions at Sotheby’s in New York in December.  The Lady Blue Eyes sale will offer a rare window into the personal lives of the famed couple, through hundreds of works that Barbara and Frank assembled and lived with together throughout their 22-year marriage.  It is drawn primarily from the Sinatras’ residences in Palm Springs, Los Angeles and Malibu.

    Highlights will include: film and entertainment memorabilia, including Frank Sinatra’s personal copies of scripts from movies and projects across his career; fine art including a Norman Rockwell portrait of Frank, works by Pablo Picasso and Childe Hassam, and a number of works painted by Frank.  There is jewellery collected by Barbara Sinatra from iconic houses including Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari and Marina B; a wealth of political and presidential memorabilia, including autographed books, awards and photographs related to presidents spanning from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton; a selection of personal effects including photographs with fellow Rat Pack members and other entertainment partners.

    There will be an auction of December 6 and a magnificent jewels sale on December 4 with a live online only sale from November 27-December 7.

    Childe Hassam, Bathers and Cloud Reflections, 1914

    Pair of Multi-Colored Sapphire and Diamond Earclips, Marina B, France

    Frank Sinatra, Abstract after Mondrian, 1991

    Frank Sinatra and John F. Kennedy at the 1961 Inaugural Gala


    Thursday, September 13th, 2018

    These rwo portraits of Charles I’s eldest children – the eleven year-old Prince of Wales, (later King Charles II), and his nine year-old sister Mary, the Princess Royal, (later, the mother of the future king, William III) will be among the highlights of Sotheby’s London Old Master Evening sale on December 5.

    Conceived and executed in the summer of 1641, months before the artist’s death in December the same year, it is possible that they are the portraits of the Prince and the Princess recorded as being among the possessions left in the artist’s studio in Blackfriars on his death. Epitomising the extraordinary skill which Van Dyck brought to child portraiture, a genre in which he had excelled ever since his early years in Genoa, both works provide a penetrating likeness of the royal children at a time when their world, and the Stuart monarchy, was on the brink of collapse.

    Among the very last works that Van Dyck painted for his royal patron they have been in the same private collection for nearly a century, and come fresh to market with a combined estimate of £2.6 million – 3.8 million.


    Thursday, September 6th, 2018

    Cinématographe Lumière (1896) poster – Henri Brispot (1846-1928)

    The world’s first cinema poster sold for a record £160,000 at Sotheby’s online-only sale of Original Film Posters.  Cinématographe Lumière’ sold for over 2.5 times the pre-sale high estimate of £40,000-60,000.  It has been in a private French collection for over 40 years.  It was designed by French artist Henri Brispot in 1896, to promote the first ever film to be publicly screened: a series of short clips about everyday life in 19th century France, created by the Lumière brothers.

    The first ever screening had taken place at The Grand Café in Paris on December 28, 1895.  Within days, the film was a sensation. The poster was created amidst the excitement which followed the initial screening, and shows crowds jostling to enter the Grand Café.  The screening at the Salon Indien of the Grand Cafe, on Boulevard des Capucines in Paris was a humble event, with an audience of less than thirty people.  It lasted approximately twenty minutes but marked the public beginning of one of the most important cultural, artistic and social phenomena of the 20th century. Victor Perrot, who witnessed the event, writes about that winter evening in various articles and memoirs, calling it a ‘great historical first’. 

    This is a new record for a film poster sold by Sotheby’s, previously set at £42,000 in September 2017 by King Kong. 


    Tuesday, September 4th, 2018
    These before and after pictures show the drawing room at Marchmont House in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders – winners of this years Historic Houses/Sotheby’s restoration award.
    In what is clearly a labour of love the house has been converted by owners Marchmont Farms Ltd.  from a nursing home into a sumptuous family home available for lettings and functions.  Fire doors and green emergency exit signs were thrown out and replaced with an art collection, Georgian mirrors and paintings appropriate to a Palladian house built around 1750.  The five year restoration of one of the finest interiors in Scotland set out to create a splendid but comfortable home with 21st century comforts and preserved historically significant features such as the magnificent plasterwork by Thomas Clayton.  Marchmont is located about 40 miles south from Edinburgh.

    The drawing room after restoration

    The drawing room before restoration.


    Monday, August 27th, 2018

    Pax by John Luke UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £225,000

    Pax by John Luke (1906-1975) comes up at Sotheby’s Irish sale in London on September 11.  It was painted in 1943. When first shown in Belfast at the annual exhibition of the Ulster Academy in 1944 reviewers noted that his characteristic blend of modernism, fantasy and technical precision had a new resolve.

    A major turning point Pax was named for the peace the artist found at Killylea in Co. Armagh. The painting had departed from his work of the 1930’s by fully realising his desire to arrange and represent in a personal and orderly manner the spatial relations of forms and masses. It broke a four year cycle of depression during which he had ceased painting. A small work, measuring just 29.5 by 39 cm it is estimated at 380,000-120,000.  It is from the collection of 16 oils from Pittsburgh based Joseph and Brenda Calihan which is at the core of the sale.

    Highlights from the sale will be on view at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin from August 30 to September 1.


    Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

    Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957) – A Misty Morning, 1942.

    The paintings amassed by Brian P. Burns, billed as one of the greatest collections of Irish art in private hands, will come up at Sotheby’s in London on November 21.  It spans artists from the 18th century to the present day reaching over 200 works at its peak.  More than forty years ago, Brian P. Burns made a bet with himself: “Isn’t it possible that the Irish could be just as brilliant in the visual arts as they have been in music and literature?” His collection is a personal response to the challenge he set and he has been generous with loans of his art to exhibitions in America and Ireland. Sotheby’s will offer 100 works form the collection with estimates ranging from £1,000 to £300,000.

    Brian P. Burns, whose grandfather emigrated to Boston from Sneem in 1892, remarked: “Some have asked why Eileen and I have chosen this time to return a large group of paintings from our Irish art collection to the market. Many years ago, when I started collecting, I was advised by Desmond Fitzgerald, the 29th Knight of Glin; Desmond Guinness, and other art advisors in Ireland to remember that no matter how many paintings I might acquire, I was only a custodian of them during my lifetime. Now at 80-plus years old, and with a collection of more than 200 works, it seemed an appropriate time. We have ensured that a number of paintings will be displayed in Chicago, New York and Boston before they “go across the pond” to be exhibited in Dublin and London before their sale this November.

    There are works by Yeats, Roderic O’Conor, Sir John Lavery, Sir William Orpen, Walter Osborne, William Leech, Nathaniel Hone, James Brenan, Rowan Gillespie and many other Irish artists and sculptors. Highlights will be exhibited at the RHA in Dublin from August 30 to September 1.