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    Saturday, January 20th, 2024
     An interior shot of Elton John’s Peachtree Road penthouse. (Photograph Visko Hatfield, courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2024.)

    Where does Elton’s future lie?  Let’s not go there.  Suffice to say it is beyond Peachtree Road. The rock star is saying goodbye to his Atlanta condo at Park Place on Peachtree – acquired in 1992 – and Christie’s New York will sell the contents in a series of eight live and online sales beginning on February 21.He began collecting photographs in the 1990’s and there is work by pioneers like Andy Warhol, Helmut Newton, Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Beard, Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon and more.Damien Hirst’s Your Song, signed and inscribed to Elton and David is estimated at $350,000-$450,000 (€319,850-€411,230) and a portrait of Elton John by Julian Schnabel is estimated at $200,000-$300,000 (€182,770-€274,150).  There is fashion from his stage wardrobes including an ivory and gold piece designed by Annie Reavey c1971 and vintage Gianni Versace shirts and upholstery.  The sale will offer tableware, decor, a grand piano, art glass, antiques and artefacts from his global travels. Live day sales will continue on February 22 and 23 and online sales open for bidding on February 9 and run to February 27 and 28.



    Saturday, January 13th, 2024
    An interior shot of Palazzo Volpi in Venice with contents to be sold by Sotheby’s in Paris.

    Art mirrors life and the life it is currently mirroring is one of censorship and intolerable attacks on freedom of expression.  The art world has not been immune as  the Israeli-Hamas war has spawned a new wave of hidden and not so hidden persuaders who move to stifle anything other than total support for hardliners against humanity. Against this background of global uncertainty there is a pipeline of interesting international sales coming up in 2024.  On offer already are a variety of covetable lots as diverse as the contents of a sumptuous Venetian palace on the Grand Canal to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Archive to a Royal portrait by Velazquez and property from the life and career of Marilyn Monroe.  We must assume that all this will be okay once there is nothing in these auctions – such as seeking a ceasefire in Gaza – that can be construed as anti-semitic.

    A pair of stools or tabourets delivered to the Empress Josephine at Christie’s in New York

    Sotheby’s will offer 200 lots from Palazzo Volpi in Venice at an auction in Paris on February 28. The collection will include palatial Roman tables, ballroom banquettes, art panels in the style of Jacopo Sansovino, Wagner sofas and Venetian mirrors. Julien’s will offer contents from the Playboy archives and from Marilyn Monroe at a three day sale in Los Angeles on March 28, 29 and 30.  Highlights will include a Playboy Bunny silkscreen by Andy Warhol and a black and cellophane effect evening gown worn by Monroe in The Seven Year Itch.  The Velazquez portrait of Isabel de Borbon is at Sotheby’s in New York on February 1.

    A black and cellophane effect evening gown worn by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch at Julien’s

    Elvis Presley’s Gretsch guitar from his Las Vegas residency is among the lots at Christie’s Exceptional Sale in New York on the same day along with a pair of c1800 tabourets or stools delivered to the Empress Josephine at Chateau de St. Cloud.

    It has the potential to be an exciting year with many records being broken at home and abroad.  Yet in 2024 there are well founded accusations of censorship in an art world that has never been noted for its lack of freedom of expression.  In New York board members and many art writers withdrew in protest after the editor of the prestigious Artforum magazine, David Valasco, was abruptly fired when a letter supporting Palestinian liberation was published which omitted to mention the victims of the Hamas attack on October 7.  Advertisers like gallerist David Zwirner and the Chanel culture fund threatened to withdraw.The Saarland Museum in Germany cancelled an exhibition by Candice Breitz, who is Jewish and has condemned Hamas, saying they would not show works by anyone who does not recognise Hamas terror as a rupture of civilisation.  The entire selection panel for the next curator of Documenta, a global art exhibition in 2027, resigned after disputes with administrators about the war. This mirrors the wider environment.  Think of resignations like that of Harvard President Claudine Gay in a campaign led by the Wall Street Jewish financier Bill Ackman whose wife is a former member of the IDF. You do not need to be a soothsayer to know there will be more resignations. UPDATE: The first American retrospective of Samia Halaby (87), regarded as one of the most important living Palestinian artists, has been cancelled by officials at Indiana University.

    Andy Warhol’s original Playboy Bunny at Julien’s.


    Thursday, January 11th, 2024
    JULIAN SCHNABEL (B. 1951) – Portrait of EltON ($200,000-300,000)

    Iconic property from Elton John’s former Atlanta home is to be sold in a series of landmark sales at Christie’s in New York. Beginning with an evening sale on February 21 the series will comprise of eight sales both live and online. The city of Atlanta played a crucial role in John’s life, becoming the hub he would return to throughout his numerous tours within the United States. He solidified this connection to Atlanta in 1992 when he acquired the condominium in Park Place, on Peachtree Road. His unexpected choice of Atlanta as a residence was driven by personal reasons. After becoming sober in 1990, he found solace and support in the warm community and recovery facilities of the city, such as the Triangle Club, which played a critical part in his recovery.

    Over the years, Elton John assembled a distinctive collection of works of art, objects and memorabilia, many of them crafted specifically for his home on Peachtree Road. Fans will discover an in-depth look at Elton John’s deep passion for photographs, which he began collecting avidly in the 1990s. Creating a gallery-like atmosphere, he adorned the walls of his Atlanta residence with pieces by pioneering artists, such as Andy Warhol, Helmut Newton, Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Beard, Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon and more. Also included are highly intimate artworks crafted personally for Elton John and his husband David Furnish. Among them is Damien Hirst’s “Your Song” signed and inscribed ‘xxx for Elton + David love Damien Thank You,’ with an estimated value of $350,000-450,000; as well as a portrait of Elton John by Julian Schnabel. There are fashion pieces from the iconic performer’s dazzling stage wardrobe, including a noteworthy Ivory and Gold Ensemble designed by Annie Reavey in circa 1971. This ensemble (estimate $8,000 – 12,000) holds historical significance as one of the initial sets of stage attire crafted exclusively for Elton John.

    A testament to Elton John’s eclectic tastes, his Atlanta apartment featured elaborate Versace upholstery—a nod to John’s longstanding friendship with the Versace family. Included in the sale is an incredible group of Versace items including a selection of vintage Gianni Versace shirts estimated at $4,000-6,000, in addition to tableware and home décor. The condo served as a personal sanctuary with a grand piano (estimate $30,000-50,000) art glass collections, antiques, and artifacts from his global travels.


    Monday, January 1st, 2024
    Mark Knopfler’s 1959 vintage Gibson Les Paul standard electric guitar. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. UPDATE: THIS MADE £693,000

    Memo to all Sultans of Swing. In a sale that will attract collectors from around the globe more than 120 guitars and amps from the personal collection of singer songwriter and Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler will come under the hammer at Christie’s in London on January 31. It spans the 50 year career of one of the most influential musicians in the world and chronicles the array of guitars Knopfler used to write, record and perform with Dire Straits. “Wherever I go I’m still crossing streets to look at guitars in the windows of music shops.  I’ve done that since I was a little kid” he said. With an estimate range of £500-£500,000 (€582-€582,000) there are opportunities for fans to participate at all levels. Renowned for his virtuoso finger picking style he chose each instrument for its individual tone.  The archive includes names like Fender, Gibson, Gretsch and Martin and custom built models by Rudy Pensa and John Suhr.   A total of 25% of the hammer price will be donated to charities he has supported for many years, the British Red Cross, Tusk and Brave Hearts of the North East. His 1959 vintage Gibson Les Paul Standard, used on the Sailing to Philadelphia tour in 2001 and the Kill To Get Crimson tour in 2008 is the top lot, estimated at £300,000-£500,000 (€349,000-€582,000).


     Mark Knopfler signature Stratocaster prototype guitar.  Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. UPDATE: THIS MADE £113,400


    Wednesday, December 20th, 2023
    A pair of early 19th century Neoclassical porphyry vases

    The erudite collection of  Philip Hewat-Jaboor (1953-2022), chairman of the Masterpiece Fair in London, at Christie’s next February 8 will offer objects of antiquity, antique furniture and important collectibles. An old style connoisseur he had a particular passion for porphyry and the auction will offer a notable collection headed by early 19th century neoclassical vases. He collected work from legendary British patrons and collectors William Beckford (1760-1844) and Thomas Hope (1769-1831) like a pair of c1815 Roman giltwood armchairs probably purchased by Beckford from Cardinal  Fesch in Paris in 1816 (£30,000-£50,000)(€34,960-€58,270).  Joseph Fesch was Napoleon’s half uncle and one of the most famous art collectors of his period.   Hewat-Jaboor’s collection of antiquities includes a 2nd century AD Roman marble bust of Bacchus (£70,000-£100,000) (€81,570-€116,530).  The 200 works in the collection are expected to realise more than £1.5 million (€1.75 million) and estimates range from £700 to £120,000 (€815-€139,840).

     A pair of Roman giltwood armchairs at Christie’s, probably purchased from Cardinal Fesch.


    Monday, December 11th, 2023
    JEAN DUPAS (1882-1964) 
    Set of Three Panels from the ‘Birth of Aphrodite’ Mural from the Grand Salon of The S.S. Normandie, circa 1934 

    The iconic ‘Birth of Aphrodite’ panels created by Jean Dupas for the Grand Salon of the famed liner S.S. Normandie made $378,000 at Christie’s two day series of Design sales in New York. The results were exceptional. The first sale featured a group of works by leading artists and designers from 1900 through to the present and achieved $11,408,670. The second was a showcase of works by glassmaker Louis Comfort Tiffany and the Tiffany Studio and it brought in $3,676,050.  The highest prices were achieved by Les Lalannes, the iconic 20th century artist couple. François-Xavier Lalanne bronzes ‘Singe Alternatif IV’ made $945,000 and a black Bélier made $882,000. The third highest price was made by a ‘Singerie’ armchair by Claude Lalanne.  The top lot of the Tiffany sale was a window – ‘Landscape with Magnolias and Irises’ – which made $705,600, three and a half times its low estimate. 


    FROM €15,000 to €12.7 MILLION IN JUST TWO YEARS

    Friday, December 8th, 2023
    Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn – The Adoration of the Kings

    Rembrandt’s rediscovered Adoration of the Kings sold for £10.9 million (€12.7 million) at Sotheby’s in London on December 6. Just two years ago – when it was attributed to the Circle of Rembrandt – it was valued at just €10,000-€15,000 at Christie’s in Amsterdam. The complex monochromatic painting had been almost entirely unseen by scholars since the 1950’s when it came to light.

    It was included in museum exhibitions and referenced as a Rembrandt work by leading Rembrandt scholars in the 1950s, but in 1960 German art historian Kurt Bauch, who only knew the painting from a black and white photograph, described it as a product of the Rembrandt School and omitted it from from the catalogue raisonné he was compiling. Thereafter, the painting was “entirely overlooked and completely ignored in the Rembrandt literature,” according to Sothebys. Following an 18 month research programme by Sotheby’s it was recognised as a work of great significance from Rembrandt’s early career.

    The Adoration of the Kings was acquired by collector J.C.H. Heldring in Amsterdam in 1955. His widow sold it to a German family in 1985, where it remained until it was sold by Christie’s in Amsterdam two years ago. The painting, which measures 9.6 x 7.3 inches, was purchased by an anonymous buyer for €860,000 at the Christie’s sale — more than 50 times the estimated value. It was later identified as the work of the Dutch master. 

    The vast majority of Rembrandt’s works hang in museums around the world, and almost all of those that have come to auction over the past three decades have been portraits or studies of single character heads.


    Wednesday, November 15th, 2023
    PHILIP ALEXIUS DE LÁSZLÓ (BRITISH, 1869-1937) – Mrs Philip Astley, née Madeleine Carroll. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £63,000

    In 1938 Madeleine Carroll was the highest paid actress in the world. This elegrant full length portrait from 1935 depicts the first Alfred Hitchcock blonde in the same year that she starred in The 39 Steps.  It will be a highlight at Christie’s British & European Art sale on December 14 during Classic Week in London.  Early parts included I Was a Spy, and School for Scandal before she was cast by Hitchcock in The 39 Steps and Secret Agent (1936). Subsequently Madeleine Carroll was offered a major contract in Hollywood and starred with Gary Cooper in The General Died at Dawn, and with Ronald Colman in The Prisoner of Zenda. Carroll has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her outstanding contribution to the cinema industry. She largely abandoned her acting career after the death of her sister Marguerite in the London blitz to devote herself to helping wounded servicemen and children displaced or maimed by the war. She was awarded both the Legion d’Honneur and the American Medal of Freedom for her work with the Red Cross. Born in Staffordshire to John Carroll, an Irish Professor of Languages from County Limerick and his French wife Helene her last film was The Fan in 1949.

    Her Broadway debut was in 1948 and at the tail end of radio’s golden age Carroll starred in the NBC soap opera The Affairs of Dr. Gentry (1957–59) and was one four stars who rotated in taking the lead in each week’s episode of The NBC Radio Theater (1959). The portrait is estimated at £50,000-70,000.


    Friday, November 10th, 2023
    Claude Monet –  Le bassin aux nymphéas sold for $74,010,000. 

    Monet’s Le bassin aux nymphéas was the top lot at Christie’s stellar 20th century evening sale in New York last night. His lily pond painting made $74 million in an auction that brought in $640,846,000 and established artists records for Richard Diebenkorn, Barbara Hepworth, Arshile Gorky, Joan Mitchell, Joan Snyder and Fernando Botero. This is the highest total in a single night for a various-owner evening sale since November 2017. Selling 97% by lot, 98% by value, and 105% hammer against low estimate it brings the running total of the week so far at Christie’s to $748,297,800. The second highest price of the night was for Francis Bacon’s Figure in Movement which made $52,160,000. 

    Richard Diebenkorn’s Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad was the highest record of the night, selling for $46,410,000. Joan Mitchell’s Untitled made $29,160,000. Arshile Gorky’s Charred Beloved I made $23,410,000, Barbara Hepworth’s The Family of Man: Ancestor II sold for $11,565,000, Fernando Botero’s The Musicians achieved $5,132,000, and Joan Snyder’s The Stripper sold for $478,800.

    Three Cezanne paintings were sold to benefit the Langmatt Museum in Baden, Switzerland. The group was led by Fruits et pot de gingembre which realised $38,935,000. This was followed by Quatre pommes et un couteau selling for$10,415,000 and La mer à l’Estaque made $3,196,000.

    Richard Diebenkorn – Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad made a record $46,410,000.


    Wednesday, November 8th, 2023
    Issy Wood – Fanta Car Interior made $277,200

    Female artists represented one fourth of Christie’s 21st Century evening sale in New York last evening and performed exceptionally well. The 41 lot sale brought in $107.4 million and more than 10% of buyers were millennials. Issy Wood’s Fanta Car Interior made $277,200 against a low estimate of $80,000 and Stefanie Heinze’s Third Date sold for $239,400 against a low estimate of $60,000. Artists of colour saw strong results: Eat dem Taters by Robert Colescott sold for $3,922,000, Night 1 by Matthew Wong achieved $4,164,000, and Intersection of Color: Loge by Reggie Burrows Hodges matched the record for the artist, selling for $730,800.

    The top lot of the evening was Cy Twombly’s Untitled (Bacchus 1st Version II) which made $19,960,000. The second highest price came for Basquiat’s Untitled which achieved $11,910,000. There was five new records: Jenna Gribbon’s Regarding Me Regarding You and Me, brought $478,800; Jia Aili’s Combustion made $4,769,000; Jadé Fadojutimi’s A Thistle Throb achieved $1,683,500; Ilana Savdie’s A High-pitched Complicity sold for $201,600, and Lalanne’s Mouton de laine sold for $1,502,000—the highest total for a single Lalanne Mouton.