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    Friday, October 27th, 2017

    John Constable, R.A. (1776 – 1837) Dedham Vale with the River Stour In flood from the grounds of Old Hall, East Bergholt. Courtesy of Sotheby’s

    A rediscovered Constable landscape comes up at Sotheby’s Old Masters evening sale in London on December 6.  One of the most important additions to Constable’s oeuvre to have emerged in the last 50 years Dedham Vale with the River Stour in Flood is one of the last early views of “Constable Country” in private hands.  John Constable (1776-1837) is one of Britain’s best-loved and most significant landscape painters and this work is estimated at £2-3 million.

    Julian Gascoigne, Senior Specialist, British Paintings at Sotheby’s said: “Constable’s views of Dedham Vale and the Stour valley have become icons of British art and define for many everything that is quintessential about the English countryside.  Dedham Vale with the River Stour in Floodwas long mistakenly thought to be by Ramsay Richard Reinagle (1775-1862), a friend and contemporary of Constable’s, but recent scientific analysis and up-to-date connoisseurship has unanimously returned the work to its rightful place among the canon of the great master’s work and established beyond doubt its true authorship. It is without question one of the most exciting and important additions to Constable’s oeuvre to have emerged in the last fifty years”.

    The painting is thought to have been commissioned by Thomas Fitzhugh as a wedding present for his future wife, Philadelphia Godfrey, whose parents were neighbours and friends of Constable’s family. It is the view from the back garden of Philadelphia’s childhood home, and must have served as a perfect memento once settled into married life in London.


    Friday, October 27th, 2017

    Portraits of celebrated muses by Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso come up at Sotheby’s in New York next month.  Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of George Dyer (estimate $35-45 million) depicting the artist’s great love and most prevalent subject, comes up at the Contemporary Art evening sale on November 16.  Pablo Picasso’s Buste de femme au chapeau (estimate $18-25 million) comes up at the Impressionist and Modern evening sale on November 14.  Each work is appearing at auction for the first time.  

    Pablo Picasso, Buste de femme au chapeau, Oil on canvas, Estimate $18/25 million

    Francis Bacon, Three Studies of George Dyer, Oil on canvas, in three parts, Estimate $35/45 million


    Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

    Bhupen Khakhar – De-Luxe Tailors

    The home collection of British painter Howard Hodgkin sold for a combined total of £5,184,887 over a top estimate of £3.8 million at Sotheby’s in London. Bidders had the opportunity to see his work alongside objects from Italy to India that had inspired him and responded with enthusiasm.  No less than 75% of lots sold for prices above their pre-sale high estimate.  The top lot was Bhupen Khakhar’s De-Luxe Tailors which soared above estimate to fetch £1,112,750 (estimate £250,000–350,000). This was a record for the artist. The work had previously been loaned by Hodgkin to feature prominently in the recent Tate retrospective of Khakhar’s work.

    Hodgkin’s friendships were  represented in his personal collection by works of fellow artists with whom he was particularly close. He once described Patrick Caulfield as “the closest I ever came to having a painter-colleague”. Caulfield’s Sweet Bowl  made £524,750.

    (See post on for September 10, 2017)


    Monday, October 16th, 2017

    Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen ‘Coiled Corset’ Courtesy of Chris Moore  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $807,000

    Original jewellery pieces for Alexander McQueen from the personal archive of London based designer Shaun Leane will come up at Sotheby’s in New York on December 4.  They span his runway collections from autumn/winter 1996 to spring/summer 2008.  The sale will feature over 45 bespoke pieces produced for beacons of the fashion industry, including Alexander McQueen and Givenchy, as well as style icons Daphne Guinness, Isabella Blow, Kate Moss and Sarah Jessica Parker.  The selection on offer, including 30 pieces for McQueen,  encapsulate the dynamism and diversity of Leane’s creative vision with works ranging from $2,000 to $400,000.

    Among the highlights are the Coiled Corset for the Overlook Collection of 1999-2000. Inspired by the cult film The Shining it comprises 97 aluminium coils bent to fit the shape of the model. The corset is engraved with the names of Shaun Leane and Alexander McQueen. Leane’s jewellery is in the permanent collections of major museums include the Met in New York and the V and A in London.

    A quote from McQueen as follows accompanies Sotheby’s press release:  “Shaun has been a close friend and companion for many years. He captures the feeling of my work and the aesthetic of the time we live in…full of structure and finesse, crafted to perfection.”

    UPDATE:  The Personal Archive of Shaun Leane totaled $2.6 million, outshining the sale’s high estimate of $2 million. The dedicated auction of over 40 works created by British jewellery designer Shaun Leane offered collectors and enthusiasts a unique opportunity to acquire pieces of fashion history – many of which debuted in Alexander McQueen’s runway.


    Friday, October 6th, 2017

    David Hockney – 15 Canvas Study of the Grand Canyon (1998)

    AN American landscape by David Hockney’s sold for £6 million at Sotheby’s in London on October. 5.  Considered one of the greatest Hockney landscapes in private hands 15 Canvas Study of the Grand Canyon (1998) was painted in preparation for A Bigger Grand Canyon, the seven and a half metre wide masterpiece housed in the National Gallery of Australia.

    The painting’s importance is underlined by its inclusion in two of the most important exhibitions of the artist’s career, including his major 1999 exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and his blockbuster retrospective in London at Tate Britain earlier this year.

    The enthusiasm for Hockney tonight was echoed elsewhere in the sale, with a succession of strong prices for other British artists, including Cecily Brown, Hurvin Anderson, Cecily Brown, Antony Gormley and Howard Hodgkin.  The Contemporary art evening sale brought in £18.4 million.


    Saturday, September 30th, 2017

    Jean Michel Basquiat – Cabra  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $11 MILLION

    Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Cabra from the collection of Yoko Ono comes up at Sotheby’s Contemporary art evening sale in New York on November 16.  The 1981-82 work, measuring 60 1/4 by 60 1/4 inches, is estimated to bring $9/12 million. A portion of the proceeds from the sale will benefit the Spirit Foundations, founded by Yoko Ono and John Lennon, in the 1970’s.

    Yoko Ono commented:  “I have had the pleasure of owning and living with this masterwork for over two decades. The time has come for it to find a new home, and I am delighted that part of the sale proceeds will benefit the foundation I established years ago with the intention of bringing peace and tolerance to the world.”

    Executed at a time when Basquiat was exploring his Haitian and Puerto Rican roots, and becoming increasingly interested in the power of black athletes Cabra is from a group of paintings inspired by boxing icons including Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Jersey Joe Walcott.   Cabra refers to the evening in 1970 when Muhammad Ali – the greatest of all time – knocked out revered heavy-weight fighter Oscar Bonavena known as ‘The Bull’. The iconic boxing ring, the hieroglyphic ‘TKO’ above the bull’s skull and, finally, the clever play on words – Cabra is Spanish for ‘goat’ or GOAT, shorthand for the Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali – all add to this moving painting of one of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s long-time heroes.

    Spirit Foundations was founded in 1978 to promote a message of social advancement through collective peace and tolerance. Devotedly carried on after John Lennon’s passing in 1980, Spirit Foundations remains a charitable organization that works as an agent of positive social change


    Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

    Top lots at the Irish art sale which brought in £1,909,125 at Sotheby’s in London today included works by Sir John Lavery (The Summit of the Jungfrau made £212,500 at hammer) and John Luke (Northern Rhythm made  £187,500).  Strong prices were achieved by Basil Blackshaw (The Fall sold for £162,500), Jack Butler Yeats Railway Refreshment Room  (£125,000), Mary Swanzy (Sun on the Sails £87,500), Colin Middleton (The Life Everlasting £85,000), William Crozier (The end of the Modern World £57,500) and Patrick Scott (Gold Painting 35 £46,250).

    Sir William Orpen’s Study for Nude Pattern, The Holy Well made £72,500 and his portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Courtauld and their daughter Jeanne on a settee made £61,250. A Fortune by Jack Butler Yeats made £75,000 and Untitled by Sean Scully made £60,000. Other prices include The Dark Pond by Frank McKelvey (£30,000), Caves at Concarneau by William Leech (£22,500), La Fenetre by Roderic O’Conor (£50,000), Japanese Garden by Sir John Lavery (£62,500), Potato Patch by Gerard Dillon (£47,500), Fishermens Houses by Colin Middleton (£37,500),  Woman by Louis le Brocquy (£31,250) and An Italian Water Scene by Martin Finnin (£11,875).

    Secret Lovers by Rowan Gillespie made £32,500, Egg Head by F.E. McWilliam made £22,500 and the Enignum II chair by Joseph Walsh made £10,000.

    (See posts on for September 1 and August 17, 2017)






    Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

    W.B. Yeats’ writing bureau sold for £187,500.

    Even though the two most expensively estimated lots failed to find buyers the sale of the Yeats family collection at Sotheby’s today must be seen as a howling success.  Many lots sold for way above the top estimate and there was very keen bidding for the private collection of one of Ireland’s most internationally known families of the 20th century.  The sale of more than 220 lots comprised the personal effects of John Butler Yeats and his four children, poet W.B., embroidery designer Lily, printing press pioneer Lolly and artist Jack.

    Billed as the highlight an archive of 133 letters from WB to his life long friend and first lover Olivia Shakespear spanning over 40 years from 1894 to 1936 failed to sell.  They had been estimated at £250,000-350,000. Similarly The Runaway Horse, the most expensively estimated of the paintings in the sale by Jack B. Yeats remained unsold. It had been estimated at £150,000-250,000.

    Against this W.B’s writing bureau made a hammer price of £187,500 over a top estimate of £30,000, John Butler Yeats’ Self Portrait, New York sold for £87,500 over  a top estimate of £50,000, a portrait of WB by his father made  £30,000 over a top estimate of £5,000, a painting of Coole by WB made £43,750 over a top estimate of £10,000 and his painting of the library at Coole made £50,000 over a top estimate of £12,000. WB’s desk chair made £32,500 and the family dining table, bought with his Nobel Prize money, made £10,000 over a top estimate of £2,500. Even his metal deed box sold for £15,000. Scrapbooks and sketchbooks all made big money. A sketchbook by WB with sketches, notes and early drafts of The Island of the Statues made £35,000 over a top estimate of £8,000. The Sunset belongs to you by Jack B made £212,500 over a top estimate of £150,000 and The Captain by the same artist sold for £87,500.

    (See posts on for September 25, August 27 and August 19, 2017)


    Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

    Winston Churchill, Roses in a Vase was the top lot at the auction

    The sale of the Vivien Leigh collection soared to over five times its pre-sale estimate at Sotheby’s in London today. Collectors turned out in their droves to witness and take part in the sale of her personal collection. Over 1,400 participants from 52 countries drove the auction total to £2,243,867  over five times the pre-sale estimate.

    Over the course of four days, some 4,000 people flocked to Sotheby’s to view first-hand paintings, furnishings, jewellery, couture, silver, books and further items celebrating all aspects of Vivien’s life. In a saleroom filled to capacity, all of the 321 lots offered found a buyer as lot after lot soared above estimate.  In this white glove auction more than 40% of lots were bought online.

    A painting by Sir Winston Churchill given as a present to Vivien Leigh sold for £638,750, nine times the pre-sale estimate.Study of Roses was sent to Vivien shortly after her visit to Chartwell, Churchill’s country home, in August 1951. It hung in her bedroom for the rest of her life. The price achieved for this one lot exceeded pre-sale estimate for entire auction.


    Sunday, September 10th, 2017

    Antiques, textiles and objects often acquired at auction by the artist Howard Hodgkin, who died aged 84 in March, are to come under the hammer at Sotheby’s  in London on October 24.  More than 400 lots, including tiles, carpet fragments, antiques, drawings and paintings, will be sold.  There are Ottoman, Indian and Islamic tiles, textiles and rugs and fragments of calligraphy, Italian pietra dura marble, prints, mezzotints and engravings.

    The collection also includes artworks by his friends such as Patrick Caulfield, represented by a blue still life of a sweet bowl (£300,000-£500,000); a work by Bhupen Khakhar , The De-Luxe Tailors (£250,000-£350,000) and a Peter Blake postcard on a green felt background, which he gave Hodgkin in 1974 (£8,000-£12,000).

    Hodgkin did not keep his own work as he said they got in the way of new work, though he did keep two paintings from his debut show at the ICA in 1962,  Bedroom and Travelling.  “I have absolutely no desire to collect my own work, but do have what with age seems an almost unquenchable thirst for acquiring other things to look at,” he said.

    Highlights will be on view in Mumbai in September and in Dubai in October. Here is a small selection:

    An interior shot of his home in Bloomsbury, London with items to be auctioned.

    Patrick Caulfield – Sweet Bowl  UPDATE: THIS MADE £524,750

    Howard Hodgkin – Travelling  UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    Bhupen Khakhar – De-Luxe Tailors  UPDATE: THIS MADE A RECORD £1.1 MILLION