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  • Archive for July, 2022

    MEMORIES OF THE MOB AT JULIEN’S AUCTIONS

    Sunday, July 31st, 2022
    Meyer Lansky’s Medal of Freedom

    IF the weather is fine this upcoming August Bank Holiday Monday and the beach is mobbed an alternative more infamous mob that might appeal to some collectors is available.  Hundreds of artefacts used by some of the most notorious American crime bosses of the 20th century will come under the hammer live and online at Julien’s Auctions on Sunday August 28. Personal items from American organised crime figures who have so fascinated the public for nearly a century that they are practically household names are included.

    Al Capone, Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, Meyer “Little Man” Lansky, Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, “Irish” Mickey Cohen (a New York jew!), Sam “MoMo” Giancana and Charlie “Lucky” Luciano all feature through jewellery, correspondence, firearms, home movies and hand written notebooks.”The Mob: A History of Organized Crime’s Artifacts” features a collection of items from Jay Bloom, founder of the Las Vegas Mob Experience at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino.


    A letter from Al Capone handwritten in Alcatraz to his son “Sonny” is a highlight estimated at $30,000-$50,000 (€29,370-€48,950).  In it he details his experiences at the notorious island prison, reports that he learned to play the mandola and expressed how he looked forward to being re-united with his family in less than a year.There is a collection of home movies and camera equipment belonging to Tony Spilotro, a notable figure of the Chicago Outfit of organised crime in Las Vegas during the 1970’s and ’80’s.  Spilotro served as the inspiration for Joe Pesci’s character in Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film Casino.Something for the moll in your life?  A pair of mobster style  diamond stud earrings that belonged to Virginia Hill are on offer with an estimate of $3,000-$5,000 (€2,940-€4,890). This gangster moll began her career as a courier for the Chicago Outfit and eventually directed smuggling operations, collected intel on rival factions and had a relationship with Bugsy Siegel. If you are of a superstitious turn of mind beware.  He was ultimately assassinated at her home in Beverly Hills.”Irish” Mickey Cohen’s black Spartan boxing gloves are estimated at $10,000-$20,000 (€9,790-€19,580). Born in 1913 he spent time in his teens participating in illegal prizefights and began his life as a career criminal in 1933 in Cleveland.  There he worked  for Desert Inn Casino investor Lou Rothkopf, whose association with Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel resulted in Cohen being sent to California where he became one of America’s most notorious gangsters. Among his famous quotes are:  “All good things must one day be burnt to the ground for the insurance money” and “I have killed no men that, in the first place, didn’t deserve killing”.

    The collection from The Mob’s accountant Meyer Lansky includes four handwritten notebooks telling his story in his own words ($50,000-$70,000 – €48,950-€68,530) and the Medal of Freedom ($40,000-$60,000 – €39,160-€58,740) he was awarded by President Truman in 1945 for his role in Operation Husky during the Second World War.All wars make strange bedfellows. In an unlikely partnership between organised crime groups and the Office of Naval Intelligence Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano were able to assist the US government in the war effort during the Second World War.  In fact their contacts with the Sicilian Mafia helped facilitate the Allied invasion of Sicily.  Through their good offices Calogero Vizzini of the Sicilian mafia led the forces through a difficult mountain pass, provided harbour maps, contacts and assisted in taking out snipers.

    The sale includes Bugsy Siegel’s Smith and Wesson .38 CTG revolver ($20,000-$30,000 – €19,580-€29,370), the only known handgun belonging to the Las Vegas Strip kingpin and National Crime Syndicate mobster.  Meyer Lansky’s bow tie collection is more modestly estimated at $3,000-$5,000 (€2,940-€4,890).The lots on offer in an unusual auction certain to attract a global following chronicle the rise and fall of an era which continues to grip the imagination through films inspired by Mafia folklore and history like The Godfather and Goodfellas.

    Al Capone’s letter to his son written in Alcatraz

    ONLINE AUCTIONS IN WEST CORK TO WHILE AWAY THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND

    Saturday, July 30th, 2022
    Pauline Bewick (1935-2022) – Sleeping Beauties at Morgan O’Driscoll (€800-€1,200). UPDATE: THIS MADE 3,200 AT HAMMER

    The height of the holiday season has not deterred two west Cork based auctioneers from planning sales for Tuesday August 2.  The evening art sale by Morgan O’Driscoll next Tuesday can be viewed in Skibbereen today, on Monday and on Tuesday.  The selection is impressive and among the artists featured on the catalogue are Sean Scully, Louis le Brocquy, Felim Egan, Basil Blackshaw, Letitia Marion Hamilton, Colin Middleton, Mary Swanzy, William Crozier, Cecil Maguire and Pauline Bewick who died on Thursday at her home in Co. Kerry, with sculpture by Helen Walsh, Ray Delaney, Oisin Kelly and John Behan. 

    In Bandon Hegarty’s August fine interiors sale features a selection of over 200 lots of  furniture, art, silver, jewellery and collectibles.  An 18 carat Columbian emerald and diamond cluster ring is estimated at €11,000-€12,000.  Among the other highlights is a pair of black cast iron benches (€1,000-€1,200), a mixed media on canvas by Philippe Aird (€800-€1,200), a stone bust on pillar of Mark Anthony (€400-€600) and a bronze bust of Diane of Poitiers (€300-€600). The catalogues for both sales are online.  

    DEATH OF ARTIST PAULINE BEWICK

    Friday, July 29th, 2022

    THE artist Pauline Bewick – acclaimed for the fineness of her line – has died at the age of 86. Bewick died at her home in Glenbeigh, Co. Kerry where she has been based since 1973. Born in the North of England Bewick was raised primarily in Co. Kerry. She worked in a variety of mediums from oil and watercolour to stained glass, tapestry and sculpture. In a tribute President Michael D. Higgins spoke of her original and unique creative talent. She is survived by artist daughters Poppy and Holly Melia. Pauline Bewick was pre-deceased by her husband Pat Melia.

    PAULINE BEWICK RHA – LILIES AND REEKS, 1990-1996 sold for €2,700 at Whyte’s in Dublin in 2012

    GORGOSAURUS SKELETON MAKES OVER $6 MILLION AT SOTHEBY’S

    Friday, July 29th, 2022
    Gorgosaurus

    A Gorgosaurus skeleton sold for $6,095,600 at Sotheby’s Natural History sale in New York on July 28. It had been excavated on private land at Judith River, Choteau River, Montana in 2018. The exhibition mounted skeleton measures nine feet, two and a half inches tall and just under 22 feet long. It is from the late Cretaceous Period and approximately 77 million years old. The Gorgosaurus was a relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

    POSTER ART ATTRACTS ENTHUSIASTIC AUDIENCE AT ADAMS

    Thursday, July 28th, 2022
    JULIUS OLSSON (1864 – 1942) Dunluce Castle, 1930’s

    This 1930’s poster depicting the Northern Ireland beauty spot Dunluce Castle in Co Antrim was the top lot at the James Adam sale of the John Rogers Vintage Poster Collection in Dublin this week. Designed by Julius Olsson it tripled its estimate to sell for €3,200. Five bidders competed and executed a total of twenty two bids before the hammer came down. The online auction was 96% sold and made €103,000, which exceeded the top estimate. One unusual result was that on average each purchaser bought three lots.

    TOBACCO ADVERTISING POSTER MAKES €2,900 ON THE HAMMER

    Tuesday, July 26th, 2022
    Representatives of professional Baseball in America Tobacco advertising

    A tobacco advertising poster of representatives of professional baseball in America sold for a hammer price of €2,900 at Victor Mee’s sale of pub memorabilia and collectibles in Belturbet, Co. Cavan tonight. It was in its original pine frame. Lot 172 was from the opening sessions of a two session sale, which continues on July 27. A total of 728 lots will come under the hammer.

    FIGHT AGAINST COVID TAKEN TO THE NFT MARKET AT CHRISTIE’S

    Tuesday, July 26th, 2022
    The University Of Pennsylvania mRNA NFT

    A breathtaking 3d digital work that takes the viewer to the molecular level, showing a cutting-edge mRNA vaccine fighting COVID-19, sold for $226,800 at Christie’s on July 25. The one-of-a-kind digital University of Pennsylvnia mRNA NFT was designed by the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Drew Weissman, whose groundbreaking research helped create mRNA vaccines. The NFT comes with a storyboard that explains what the NFT depicts, the University of Pennsylvania-owned mRNA patent documents, and an original letter from Dr. Weissman, whose research produced key innovations that made mRNA vaccines safer and more effective. Proceeds from the auction will support ongoing research activities at the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Medicine.

    MRNA vaccines are a new form of technology that has been science’s main tool to fight the COVID virus. Unlike traditional vaccines, which use a weakened or inactive germ to trigger an immune response, mRNA vaccines are designed to teach the body to create a protein that triggers the immune response. This one-of-a-kind NFT features a stunning one-minute 3D sequence that uses color, shape, movement, and sound to show mRNA encapsulated inside of lipid nanoparticles, administered via a vaccine, and working in the body to teach cells to create a protein to help the immune system to fight COVID.

    In its review of the first half of 2022 Christie’s reported that the market for NFT’s is facing its first real endurance test.  It amounted to just $4.75 million (€4.71 million) in the half year. Collectors are responding by selecting the best digital artists from the rest and consolidating around a group more likely to survive the tumult of the broader cryptocurrency markets.

    SUPER POSTERS AT ADAMS AUCTION

    Sunday, July 24th, 2022
    Rene Gruau – Panache,  La Nouvelle Revue du Lido (€150-€200). UPDATE: THIS MADE 200 AT HAMMER

    Nothing evokes a bygone era or jogs a memory quite like a poster.  There are some wonderful ones at the James Adam online sale of the collection of John Rogers which runs until July 27. On offer are 420 posters, many anonymous, others designed by famous and collectible artists from Andy Warhol to Rene Gruau.  There is highly affordable work here from artists like Walter Hofmann, Niki de Saint Phalle, Dick Eiffers, Ludwig Hohlwein, David Klein and Piet Sluis, the late Dutch artist who came to live in Ireland in the 1950’s.

    A poster advertising train travel in Spain put me in mind of Dorothy Parker  travelling from France to Madrid with a linguistically gifted companion.  At the border he spoke no Spanish.  By the time they reached their destination she reported that he was helping the natives along with their subjunctives.  Armed with a post grad in Art History and some experience gained at Christie’s the late John Rogers opened Gallery 29 in Dublin in 2004. This was a lot more than just another poster shop and the sale is a tribute to his discriminating eye for quality.

    Spanish train poster by an anonymous artist (€150-€200). UPDATE: THIS MADE 340 AT HAMMER

    SEAN SCULLY AT THADDAEUS ROPAC IN SALZBURG

    Saturday, July 23rd, 2022
    Sean Scully, Wall Paris Blue, 2021 © Sean Scully. Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein.

    An exhibition of new works by Sean Scully opens today at Thaddeus Ropac in Salzburg, Austria. It brings together large scale paintings from his most formative series including Wall of Light and Landline. A monumental 2020 sculpture  entitled Indoor Sleeper in the gallery’s outdoor space offers and insight into his sculptural practice. This show follows the acclaimed 50 year retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art until July 31.  Major institutional exhibitions of Scully’s are currently underway in Neuss Germany, Bologna Italy and Torun in Poland.

    WHYTE’S SUMMER ART SALE ON VIEW IN DUBLIN

    Friday, July 22nd, 2022
    SUNLIGHT ON THE RIVER BANN, 1975 – JOHN SKELTON (1923-2009). UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    Sunlight on the River Bann by John Skelton comes up as lot 28 at Whyte’s summer online art auction, which runs until July 25. It is estimated at €600-€800. This is a sale designed to encourage both first time buyers and seasoned bidders. The catalogue is online and viewing continues at Whyte’s galleries on Molesworth St. in Dublin. The sale is on view until 5 pm today, from 2 pm to 5 pm tomorrow and from 10 am to 5 pm on Monday.