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    OPTIMISM AS UNSETTLING YEAR DRAWS TO A CLOSE

    Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

    AS this strange, unsettling year draws to a close auction houses are looking back with relief and forward with optimism. Twelve months ago when 2020 dawned there was little inkling of the pandemic that has since engulfed the globe causing at least 1.8 million deaths and 82 million cases so far. In the art and antiques market online sales and private sales did much to alleviate the pressure caused by the lack of live sales nationally and internationally. Preliminary figures from Christie’s suggest that sales were down 25% to $4.4 billion. Demand remained strong and online sales (up 262% in 2020) and digital innovation are seen as major drivers of future growth. Private sales achieved a record total projected at $1.3 billion. No less than 36% of all buyers were new to Christie’s and 32% of new online only buyers were millennials (23-38 years old).

    CEO Guillaume Cerutti commented: “In 2020, the global pandemic deeply impacted the art market, as it did for almost all industries. We are now looking forward to 2021 with optimism, for two major reasons: global demand for art and objects remains strong with an impressive influx of new clients, especially millennials; and Christie’s has introduced digital innovations that significantly strengthened our business model, providing clients with greater flexibility to transact with us through our live auction, online-only, and private sales platforms.”

    In Ireland lockdowns caused four months of closure in 2020 and a new lockdown for the month of January 2021 has just been announced. At James Adam they reckon that business overall was about two thirds of what would normally have occurred in sectors like Irish Art and jewellery. The level of sales, 16 in categories like vintage wine and spirits, period and mid century furniture, jewellery, watches, art and decorative arts and the Country House Collections sale at Townley Hall, helped to make up some of the shortfall. James O’Halloran reports that sell through rates at Adams were higher in every category with some auctions recording 90% plus. There is a readiness to drive on from this in 2021.

    The Kildare House giltwood chairs made 18,000 at James Adam

    GEORGIAN SIDEBOARD AT ADAMS SINGLE VENDOR SALE

    Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

    This George IV inlaid sideboard with brass gallery comes up with an estimate of 3,000-5,000 at the James Adam auction of contents from Number 1, Wellington Road, Dubin. The former restaurateur Peter White is downsizing and his lifetime collection is on offer at a timed online sale which runs to January 11. The collection of four silver plated domed dish covers under the sideboard is estimated at 600-1,000. UPDATE: THE SIDEBOARD MADE 6,000 AT HAMMER. THE DOMED DISH COVERS SOLD FOR 420

    19th CENTURY DUBLIN WINE EWER AT HEGARTY’S

    Tuesday, December 29th, 2020

    This early 19th century Irish silver wine ewer comes up at Hegarty’s timed New Year online auction. The sale opens in Bandon today and runs until January 5. The selection of lots includes jewellery, art and Persian rugs. The ewer was made in Dublin in 1834 by Robert W Smith and is estimated at 3,200-3,400. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    INAUGURAL ONLINE EDITION OF NEW YORK WINTER SHOW

    Monday, December 28th, 2020

    A dynamic group of leading international dealers will take part in New York’s Winter Show. The inaugural online edition takes place from January 22-31 with VIP preview access from January 19-21. The 60 exhibitors will present a diverse mix of fine and decorative arts from ancient times to the present day. Executive Director Helen Allen said: “We have worked to create a virtual format that is interactive, visually stimulating, and showcases the quality and depth of the objects presented”.

    The online platform allows exhibitors present a gallery exhibition in a three-dimensional virtual space. Visitors will be able to take in the digital presentations as a whole and view close-up, detailed views of each work.
    Exhibitors will curate their selections, featuring up to twenty artworks and objects at a time.

    Aronson of Amsterdam will show fine quality Delftware

    TIMED AUCTION WITH 785 LOTS BY SEAN EACRETT

    Monday, December 28th, 2020

    This group of Beatrix Potter figures by Royal Albert and Beswick is included in Sean Eacrett’s timed New Year auction of antiques, collectibles and film props which runs until January 3. One of a number of lots of Beatrix Potter figures they are estimated at 80-120. There are 785 lots in the sale.

    ANNUAL HOLIDAY AUCTION BY MATTHEWS IN KELLS

    Sunday, December 27th, 2020

    This pair of diamond set oval cut ruby cluster earrings mounted on 14 carat gold comes up at Matthews annual holiday auction in Kells, Co. Meath on December 29 and 30. There are 1,184 lots in this online sale of jewellery, gold, silver and collectibles. The ruby earrings pictured here are lot 51 and estimated at 600-900. UPDATE: THESE MADE 550 AT HAMMER

    LE BROCQUY LEADS TIMED ONLINE AUCTION AT ADAMS

    Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

    A Le Brocquy pen, ink and watercolour ‘Red Roses for Me’ leads the James Adam timed online sale of contents from Number 1 Wellington Road, Dublin which is now underway and runs until January 11. The former restaurateur Peter White is downsizing and his lifetime collection is coming under the hammer. The 1946 work – inspired by the
    Sean O’Casey play of the same name about a Dublin Protestant family
    against the backdrop of the 1913 Lockout – is estimated at 8,000-12,000.
    The sale comprises Irish, British and Continental paintings from the early 19th century to the present day, bronzes, prints, furniture, porcelain, silver and domestic effects.

    LOUIS LE BROCQUY HRHA (1916-2012) Red Roses for Me. UPDATE: THIS MADE 10,000 AT HAMMER

    GUTFREUND COLLECTION AT CHRISTIE’S, NEW YORK

    Sunday, December 20th, 2020

    An unparalleled collection of fine and decorative art, jewels and books will come up at Christie’s New York live and online sales in January 2021. Works from the collection of Mr. & Mrs. John H. Gutfreund 834 Fifth Avenue encompass important English and French furniture, Russian works of art, silver, porcelain, Old Master paintings, Chinese ceramics and works of art, carpets, and textiles. These will come under the hammer in a two-day live auction on January 26-27. Three online sales from January 14–28/29 will be thematically organised into the Art of Entertainment; Books and bindings; and a collection of runway jewels from the House of Chanel. 

    John Gutfreund (1929-2016) was chairman and executive of the investment firm Salomon Brothers.

    A suite of George III painted mahogany dining room furniture by Ince and Mayhew, 1775 ($80,000-120,000)

    A GREAT 2020 AT SOTHEBY’S AND CHRISTIE’S

    Friday, December 18th, 2020

    Consolidated sales so far this year at Sotheby’s stand at over $5 billion, with several auctions still to go.  And Christie’s has reported an accelerated shift to online sales with a 41% increase in luxury lots sold in online auctions; 82% increase in the number of luxury online sales, and a 205% increase in the value of online luxury sales year on year.

    Sotheby’s report that ease of access to a broader range of offerings brought a record influx of new buyers: this year Sotheby’s attracted the largest number of first-time buyers in 15 years with a 27% increase over 2019. Over 70% of auctions were held online in 2020 (up from 30% last year) and more than 40% of bidders and buyers in online auctions were new to Sotheby’s. The number of buyers aged under 40 doubled. Private sales so far in 2020 total over $1.5 billion, marking an all time record at any auction house.

    Christie’s report that performance has been strong across all categories with an 87% overall sell-through for the portfolio; 136 records were set across jewels, watches, wine and handbags and 53 lots achieved over $1 million. Christie’s luxury market report further highlighted global participation with bidders from 90 countries and 40% new buyers.

    The world auction record for a handbag was achieved at Christie’s in Hong Kong in November for this Matte White Himalaya Niloticus crocodile Kelly handbag by Hermes. It sold for US$437,330.

    BOOK OF KELLS FACSIMILE MAKES 7,500 AT WHYTE’S

    Thursday, December 17th, 2020

    A facsimile of the Book of Kells sold for 7,500 at Whyte’s Christmas art and collectibles sale in Dublin. The first and only complete facsimile of the most precious illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages was published by Verlag, Lucerne, by the authority of the board of Trinity College, Dublin in 1990. This was number 1,206 of number 1,480. The Tajidar – Sacred Bird Celtic Design illustration c1940 and a 1934 seascape woodcut print by Art O’Murnaghan (1875-1953) sold for 3,800 over a top estimate of 2,000 and a Studio and Still Life by Peter Collis made 6,000 over a top estimate of 5,000.