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    Sotheby’s to revert to private ownership

    Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

    Sotheby’s has entered into an agreement to be acquired by the art collector and media and telecom entrepreneur, Patrick Drahi after 31 years as a public company. Drahl is the ninth richest man in France.

    Sotheby’s ceo Tad Smith said in an announcement: “Our 275-year history has been marked by innovations that have not only changed Sotheby’s, but the wider industry along with it. And just over the past several years we have modernized and expanded both digitally and physically, and it’s clear that we are just getting started. Private ownership at this moment in Sotheby’s development would empower us to accelerate many of those growth initiatives and focus on long-term success. “

    Tad Smith

    Patrick Drahi is a knowledgeable businessman and a passionate collector who understands Sotheby’s and the markets we operate in, Smith added. He shares our brand vision for outstanding client service and has the patience to make that possible. There are no immediate changes to the business.

    Patrick Drahl is a French-Israeli businessman with French, Portuguese, and Israeli citizenship. He is founder and controlling member of the Netherlands based telecom group Altice and owns cable TV companies in Israel and the US.

    MEDIEVAL MANUSCRIPTS LOST IN WAR RETURNED TO BONN UNIVERSITY

    Thursday, April 11th, 2019

    More than 600 books and manuscripts lost during the Second World War were today returned to Bonn University in Germany. The repatriation was facilitated by Sotheby’s. The books were discovered in a Belgian private collection. This is one of the largest single returns of objects lost during the war. Among them are numerous historical works of high cultural and material importance, including medieval and modern manuscripts, medieval documents, historical maps, early 15th-century prints, rare prints of the 16th century and numerous colored bird books. The most valuable bird book is Audobon’s The Birds of America.

    How exactly the books and manuscripts found their way to Belgium is not known. It is possible that they were taken by Belgian soldiers in the years after the war. Curator of Manuscripts and Historic Books at ULB, Dr. Michael Herkenhoff said: Many valuable volumes were stored between 1946 and 1950 in a bunker in Bonn. They may have been stolen during the period of the Belgian occupation in Bonn.”

    Charlotte Miller, Specialist in Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby’s in London explained that in 2017 a large collection of books was offered to Sotheby’s from a private collection in Belgium. Many had their library stamps expunged, bindings removed or title pages destroyed. Sotheby’s set out to discovered the true provenance of the library. The medieval manuscripts were listed on Bonn University’s Inventory of Losses.

    Left: A manuscript of the “Comoediae” of Terenz, written in the 13th century

    Centre: Book of Hours, Use of Rome, in Latin [southern Netherlands (Bruges), c.1460-70

    Right: John James Audubon, The Birds of America from drawings made in the United States, printed in New York between 1840 and 1844 in 7 volumes


    AQUAMARINE AND DIAMOND TIARA BY FABERGÉ

    Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

    A Fabergé tiara wedding gift from Frederick Francis IV, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1882-1945) to his bride Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland (1882-1963) comes up at Christie’s sale of Magnificent Jewels in Geneva on May 15. The 1904 tiara is of symbolic design with forget-me-not flowers tied with ribbon bows, signifying true and eternal love, pierced by arrows representing cupid. Composed of nine graduated pear-shaped aquamarines, old, cushion and rose-cut diamonds, the historic tiara has a pre-sale estimate of US$ 230,000-340,000.

    The Faberge Tiara


    The Grand Duke’s mother, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, was a keen Fabergé collector, and encouraged him to order his wedding present at the atelier Fabergé in St Petersburg. At the time of their 1904 marriage Frederick was 22 and Alexandra, 21. Archives show correspondence between the Grand Ducal Cabinet of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Eugène Fabergé, revealing deliberations on a commission of an important jewel. One of the letters dated 10 May discussed the possibilities that could be offered: ‘a diamond tiara’ for 10’000 roubles or ‘an aquamarine and diamond tiara’ for 7’500 roubles, and that only using aquamarines as gemstones was not possible. Another letter referred to drawings with designs Fabergé proposed for the top section of the tiara, sent to the Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna for her son’s approval. However, these drawings went missing. Fabergé expressed concerns that he held no copies himself and did not know which design appealed to the Grand Duke.

    Two weeks before the marriage Fabergé wrote to the Grand Ducal Cabinet that he was yet to receive any instructions to proceed. For a second time he asked for the return of the drawings as he could not advance his work without them. A subsequent letter referred to a completion for the wedding on 7 June, as requested by the Grand Duke by which Fabergé declared that it was impossible to execute the commission in such a short time. On the day of the wedding the Princess wore the traditional Hanoverian nuptial crown commissioned in 1761 for the wedding of King George III of England and Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The Fabergé tiara, her own special wedding gift from the Grand Duke, followed later.

    WAR OF INDEPENDENCE MEDAL MARKS CENTENTARY

    Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

    Dublin Mint Company Commemorative Coin.
    Photo Chris Bellew /Fennell Photography Copyright 2019

    A War of Independence medal was launched today by the Dublin Mint Office to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the War of Independence.  It shows an image of the Garden of Remembrance on one side, and Hibernia, the personification of Ireland, on the other.

    The image of Hibernia is based on original 19th century Irish coinage. The Garden of Remembrance, which is presented as a photographic image on the medal, was selected to feature due to its dedication to the memory of all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom.

    Daniel Penney, Managing Director, of the Dublin Mint Office, said: “In the centenary year of the start of the War of Independence we are honoured to be commemorating all of those who gave everything they had in the fight for Irish freedom. The War of Independence still remains one of the most significant events in Irish history. The Dublin Mint Office is delighted to be able to announce the release of the War of Independence Centenary Medal. ”

    Medals commemorating the Easter Rising and the seven signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic were released in 2016, to mark 100 years since the rising. More recently a Michael Collins medal was released to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the end of the Irish Free State in 1937 and the establishment of the new state of Ireland.

    The Dublin Mint Office is part of the Samlerhuset Group and the medal is available free to members of the public at www.eireindependence.com/press

    THE HEART OF SPACE AT CHRISTIE’S ONLINE METEORITE SALE

    Friday, February 1st, 2019

    The Heart of Space meteorite.

    The Heart of Space, an iconic iron meteorite in the shape of a heart, will highlight Christie’s fifth annual online auction of meteorites.  It will run from February 6 to 14.  The Heart of Space originates from one of the biggest meteorite showers of the last several thousand years, which occurred in Siberia on February 12, 1947.

    The shockwaves from the explosion collapsed chimneys, shattered windows and uprooted trees; sonic booms were heard nearly 200 miles away and eyewitnesses thought the world was ending. Among the meteorites to land on Earth that day was a natural sculptural form from outer space in the shape of a heart. It’s the result of unlikely yet fortuitous cleavage along its crystalline planes as it burned through Earth’s atmosphere — a fiery plunge that thumb-printed the surface and evokes the texture of a Giacometti. It is estimated at $300,000 – $500,000.  There are 45 lots in the sale.

    FORMER DUBLIN TENEMENT NOMINATED FOR EUROPEAN ARCHITECTURE AWARD

    Thursday, January 24th, 2019

    The conservation of a former tenement house at 14 Henrietta Street in Dublin’s north inner city has been shortlisted for the prestigious European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2019.  This is one of 40 projects selected from nearly 400 nominations across Europe.  Now a home to Dublin’s social history and open to the public since last September the house at 14 Henrietta Street tells the story of 300 years of city life, all within the walls of one address.   Conservation and restoration work at the Dublin City Council-owned building was carried out over a 10-year period.

    Heritage officer with Dublin City Council, Charles Duggan, who oversaw the restoration project, said:  “The 10-year long journey to rescue, stabilise and ultimately conserve and adapt 14 Henrietta Street entailed not only the stabilisation of the house due to its serious structural condition, but the preservation and recovery of the fragile traces of human occupation embodied in the fabric and form of the house. The conservation of the house and the creation of the museum has been a truly collaborative project; our dedicated design team, led by Shaffrey Architects, GEM Construction, specialist conservationists, researchers, and curators have been guided by conversations with people who lived in tenement flats in this house and on the street.”

    The St Mary’s Medieval Mile Museum in Kilkenny by McCullough Mulvin Architects has also been shortlisted.

    DENEUVE’S WARDROBE AT CHRISTIE’S IN PARIS

    Sunday, January 13th, 2019

    Catherine Deneuve’s wardrobe, including many one off pieces made by Yves St. Laurent, will be sold by Christie’s in Paris on January 24.  Now 75 the French actress is selling her property n Normandy where the clothes are kept.   The French actor was muse to Laurent for many years.  At the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of his career in 2002 she told him: “My most beautiful love affair is with you”.

    Around 300 lots are to be sold, half at Christie’s in Paris and the rest in an online auction. There are evening dresses worn by Deneuve in Cannes, Hollywood and Venice as well as trench coats and colourful dress suits.  The online only sale will offer a larger number of lots along with some cocktail dresses. The beaded evening dress featured here was exhibited at the Met in New York in 1993. Deneuve wore the dress at a ceremony in 1969 where she met Alfred Hitchcock, Philippe Noiret and Francois Truffaut. Deneuve wore the gold lurex dress featured here to the 2000 Oscars ceremony for the nomination of Est-West by Regis Wargnier in the Best International Film category.

    UPDATE:  The live auction of the wardrobe of Catherine Deneuve designed by Yves Saint Laurent achieved a total of $1,025,581 and sell-through rates of 100%. The interest in the sale was so immense that 90% of all 129 lots sold multiple times above their pre-sale estimates. The auction lasted 5 hours, witnessing fierce competition from around the globe.

    This YSL beaded evening dress is from the Haute Couture Spring Summer 1969 Collection (£3,000-5,000).  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR 42,500

    A gold lurex velvet draped evening dress YSL Haute Couture Spring Summer 1995 (2,000-3,000).  UPDATE:  THIS SOLD FOR 33,700

    SEXTON’S BOOT SCORES AGAIN AT SHEPPARDS

    Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

    The boots worn by Johnny Sexton for the Grand Slam, le Drop and the Champions Cup made a hammer price of 15,500 at Sheppards in Durrow today.  They had been estimated at around 50 euro.  They were lot 1267, the last lot in a successful two day auction that saw competitive bidding in the room, on the telephone and on the internet.

    Sexton, who captains Leinster and is one of two of Ireland’s vice captains, has just been announced as winner of the World Rugby Player of the Year for 2018.  He is only the second Irish player to win the award after the inaugural winner Keith Wood in 2001.  Ireland was named World Rugby Team of the Year at the awards ceremony in Monaco on November 25.

    Proceeds from the sale will go towards the medical treatment of eight-year-old Anna Browne, from Mallow, Co Cork both here and in the United States.  The schoolgirl suffers from cerebral palsy.

    (See post on antiquesandartireland.com for November 23, 2018)

    MYSTIQUE OF MARILYN MONROE SHINES BRIGHT AT JULIEN’S

    Sunday, November 18th, 2018

    The Monroe Thunderbird

    Marilyn Monroe’s Golden Globe award for World Film Favorite Female 1961 from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association became the top selling Golden Globe award sold at auction when it made $250,000 at Julien’s icons and idols Hollywood sale.  Monroe’s 1956 Raven Black Ford Thunderbird convertible driving to auction for the first time in history made $490,000. Other iconic items connected to Monroe’s mystique included the black satin blouse with matching necktie Monroe wore to a press conference at Los Angeles Airport on February 26, 1956 which made $43,750, over four times the original estimate and her copy of Playboy’s first issue with Monroe on the cover signed by publisher Hugh Hefner.  This made $32,000.

    MARIE ANTOINETTE PEARL MAKES AUCTION HISTORY

    Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

    The magic of Queen Marie-Antoinette held say at Sotheby’s in Geneva when a pearl and diamond pendant that belonged to ill-fated French Queen was been sold for $36 million over an estimate of around $2 million.  This is a world record for a pearl.  The pendant was part of a collection of jewellery sold by Italy’s Bourbon-Parma house.

    Other lots included a natural pearl and diamond necklace, a pair of pearl and diamond earrings, and a monogram ring with a lock of her hair.  The queen smuggled her jewellery to her family in Austria before an ill fated attempt to flee the French Revolution.  She was guillotined aged 37  in 1793.

    The previous record for the most expensive pearl was a necklace once owned by Elizabeth Taylor which was sold for $11.8 million at Christie’s in 2011.