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    Saturday, December 8th, 2018

    The key to the Eccles St. home of Leopold Bloom.  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £7,500

    A key created by James Joyce to help his friends keep track of Ulysses comes up at Sotheby’s book sale in London on December 10.  Seven copies were produced in total as the author ever wanted it to be shared too widely. In his words ‘If I give it all up immediately, I’d lose my immortality. I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant”.  However by 1930 it has been seen so widely that Joyce allowed its publication.  Another lot in the sale is the latchkey to Leopold Bloom’s fictional home at 7 Eccles Street, Dublin. In Ulysses, Bloom’s missing latchkey has been interpreted in Freudian terms as a symbol of his loss of potency, and in political terms as a synecdoche of Irish dispossession before Independence, but given Joyce’s careful mapping of Dublin in the novel it is also a key to a real front door – the home of one of Joyce’s friends. The key was rescued by a Joyce scholar when the house was demolished in the 1960s. The house’s front door was also reclaimed and is now exhibited at Dublin’s James Joyce Centre.

    A little more background on the story of the key in Ulysses – Bloom leaves his latchkey behind in the pocket of yesterday’s trousers when he departs from his home at the beginning of his day’s odyssey. He had reminded himself several times to pick up the key before going out, and his annoyance at his own forgetfulness recurs several times in the novel. Finally, when Bloom staggers home in the early hours of the morning with Stephen Dedalus , he puts his hand in his empty pocket to retrieve his key, so he has to hop the fence and come in by the back door.

    Sotheby’s specialist Gabriel Heaton said: “So our sale has two keys to Ulysses. One is a secret that was never kept but has guided generations of students through the novel; the other once unlocked a front door that now opens onto a brick wall. The very fact that these items still attract such interest shows that Joyce’s immortality is safe enough, and one cannot help but think that Joyce himself would have taken great pleasure in the appearance at auction of his fictional hero’s lost key.”

    The current example is one of three copies of the definitive English schema to precede the novel’s publication, the other two being for the translator Valery Larbaud and the publisher Sylvia Beach.   The online sale runs December 10.

    UPDATE:  The schema sold for £47,500, the key for £7,500.


    Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

    1860-1940 ‘ROMEO AND JULIET’

    At Sotheby’s in London today Romeo and Juliet by Roderic O’Conor was the top lot in what was the most valuable sale of Irish art so far this year. It made £364,000 in the sale of the Brian P. Burns collection which brought in a total of £3,307,375, the highest total for a private collection of Irish art sold at auction.  It was one of eleven lots from an auction of 100 Irish paintings which crashed through the £100,000 barrier.

    Armistice Day, November 11th 1918, Grosvenor Place, London by Sir John Lavery

    The others were  Seascape, Orange and Red Rocks by Roderic O’Conor (£100,000) Red Rocks, Brittany by Roderic O’Connor (£100,000)  Armistice Day, November 11th 1918 by Sir John Lavery (£250,000) Seated Boy and Sea by Walter Osborne (£137,500) Misty Morning by Jack B. Yeats (£286,000)  St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle by F J Davis (£243,750)  The Lonely Sea by Jack B. Yeats (£125,000) The Beach, Tangier by Sir John Lavery (£100,000) Harmsworth Interior Portrait by Sir William Orpen (£112,500) and The Laugh by Jack B Yeats (£225,000).

    Sir John Lavery’s Armistice Day, November 11th 1918 was acquired by the Imperial War Museums.  Self Portrait with Palette by Kathleen Fox was acquired by the National Self Portrait Collection at the University of Limerick.


    (See posts on antiquesandartireland,com for November 17 and August 22, 2018).


    Saturday, November 17th, 2018
    The Brian P. Burns collection of Irish art  comes under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London on November 21.  Internationally promoted this sale of 100 lots spans Irish artists from the 18th century to the present day and includes works by Yeats, O’Conor, Lavery, Orpen, Osborne, Leech, Nathaniel Hone, James Brenan and Rowan Gillespie.
    Now aged over 80 Sotheby’s describe the collection he formed over a lifetime as one of the greatest collections of Irish art in private hands.  He has generously loaned his collection to exhibitions in America and Ireland and created new audiences for and awareness of Irish art.  Here is a selection from the sale:

    (See post on for August 22, 2018)

    UPDATE:  The sale total including buyer’s premium was £3,307,375 making this the single most valuable auction of Irish art this year.

    Walter Frederick Osborne, At the Breakfast Table  UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    Roderic O’Conor, Seascape, Orange and Red Rocks  UPDATE: THIS MADE 100,000


    St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle by F.J. Davis  UPDATE: THIS MADE £243,750


    Thursday, November 15th, 2018

    Gerhard Richter – Abstraktes Bild

    Gerhard Richter’s monumental Abstraktes Bild from 1987 led Sotheby’s Contemporary Art evening sale in New York last night. It made $32 million in an auction which totalled $362.2 million.  This was up 17% on November 2017.  With 97% of lots sold it was Sotheby’s fourth consecutive art evening auction in New York with a sell through rate of over 95%.  Sales from the collection of David Teiger have now crossed $100 million and more auctions from his collection will be held in 2019.

    Grégoire Billaut, Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department in New York, said: “Tonight’s results were among the best we have ever achieved, and reinforced the strong and consistent market we have experienced throughout the fall. From a record Contemporary Curated sale in September to our best online sale to-date and a 100%-sold Day Auction in Hong Kong, the market continues to grow across price levels. We saw a depth of bidding throughout the sale from buyers around the globe, and achieved great records for some very deserving names. Our goal is always to deliver for our consignors, and we did just that with an exceptional sell-through rate.”

    David Hockney Montcalm Interior with 2 Dogs sold for $12.7 million

    Jean-Michel Basquiat Untitled (Pollo Frito) sold for $25.7 million


    Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

    Rene Magritte – Le Principe du Plaisir (The Pleasure Principle)

    There was a new work record for Rene Magritte at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art sale in New York last night.  The record breaking portrait of his patron Edward James – a surrealist masterpiece called Le Principe du Plaisir (The Pleasure Principle) – made $26.8 million after a seven way bidding battle.  The auction brought in a total of $315.4 million.

    Egon Schiele’s 1913 Townscape Dämmernde Stadt (Die Kleine Stadt II) made $24.6 million, Oskar Kokoschka’s portrait ofJoseph De Montesquiou-Fezensac made $20.4 million (five time the artist’s previous record) and Ludwig Kirchner’s Psychologically Gripping Das Soldatenbad (Artillerymen) made $22 Million. A private collection of Fauve, Expressionist and Modern works totalled $111 million led by three Kandinsky paintings which each sold for over $20 million.

    August Uribe, Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department in New York, commented“Tonight we witnessed a healthy and intelligent market responding with enthusiasm to a sale unlike any we have assembled in recent memory.  The offering was characterised by originality as well as rarity, bringing together the best examples remaining in private hands by artists not typically seen at auction, alongside important works by the leading Modernists. Bidding was truly global, evenly split between the US, Europe and Asia, which is a combination needed to drive a $300+ million total.”


    Thursday, November 1st, 2018

    D*Face, Shepard Fairey and Conor Harrington are among the artists who work is on display at Sotheby’s in London this month for the mens health charity the Movember Foundation.  Ten street artists have created agenda setting pieces aimed at nurturing open conversations surrounding men’s mental health and suicide prevention.

    The works are on view at Sotheby’s London galleries as part of the ‘Contemporary Curated’ exhibition. Proceeds from the sale  on November 20 will benefit the Movember Foundation and their dedicated investment in ground-breaking mental health programmes. 

    Cork born London based Street Artist Conor Harrington at work in studio

    Felipe Pantone, Chromadynamica #76

    DFace – Console the Lonely, © Lionel Belluteau

    The Blind Patriots No. 4 by Conor Harrington.


    Monday, October 29th, 2018
    Major works by some of the world’s most revered and expensive artists will come under the hammer at the big November art sales in New York. With work ranging from a major restituted masterpiece by Egon Schiele to a splash painting that promises to make David Hockney the world’s priciest living artist the sales of Impressionist and Modern and Contemporary and Post War art at Christie’s and Sotheby’s promise to create a splash of their very own.
    Schiele’s masterwork, City in Twilight, the small city II will highlight Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern evening sale on November 12. Painted in 1913 it was purchased in 1928 by a young Jewish widow living in Vienna, Elsa Koditschek. The work was forcibly sold under the Nazi regime and is now offered as the resolution of a private restitution between the present owners and Elsa’s heirs.
    David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with two figures) at Christie’s Post War and Contemporary evening sale on November 15  is estimated in the region of $80 million and is poised to become the most expensive  work by a living artist ever sold at auction.
    Highlights from the Impressionist and Modern evening sale at Christie’s on November 11 range from Claude Monet’s Effet de neige at Giverny and one of 12 extant works of Le basin aux nympheas to Picasso’s Femme au beret orange et au col de fourrure (Marie-Therese).
    Along with Hockney there are  masterpieces by Pisarro, Rothko, Monet, Bacon and Rodin at Christie’s Post War and Contemporary evening sale on November 15.
    Sotheby’s say that their Impressionist and Modern sale on November 12 promises to be among the strongest and boldest in recent history. Works on offer range from a floral composition by Monet to a painterly canvas showcasing Maurice Vlaminck’s Fauve period and Miro’s monumental pastel Figure. Magritte’s painting of Edward James is one of the most important Surrealist portraits to appear at auction in decades and will feature with newly discovered works by Renoir, Morandi and Rembrandt Bugatti.

    The Contemporary Art evening sale at Sotheby’s on November 14 will offer works by Willem de Kooning, Frank Stella, Jeff Koons and many other leading contemporaries.

    Egon Schiele’s City in Twilight, the small city II is at Sotheby’s.  UPDATE: THIS MADE $24.6 million  

    David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with two figures) at Christie’s  UPDATE:THIS MADE $90,312,500

    Mark Rothko’s Untitled (Rusts, Blacks on Plum) 1962 at Christie’s. UPDATE: THIS MADE $35,712,500

    Georgia O’Keeffe, Calla lilies on Red at Sotheby’s. UPDATE: THIS MADE $6.3 MILLION


    Monday, October 15th, 2018

    The Iznik charger.  UPDATE: THIS MADE £5.4 MILLION

    A c1480 museum quality Iznik charger will lead the Arts of the Islamic World auction at Sotheby’s in London on October 24. One of the most important pieces of Iznik pottery remaining in private hands, the large intact dish, or charger, represents a significant discovery in the field of Ottoman art.

    It belongs to the earliest group of Iznik – produced at the very advent of the art form during the reign of Mehmet II (‘the Conqueror’) – the finest examples of which are almost all held in museum collections across the globe. This small, and exceptionally rare, group of Iznik pottery is characterised by an intense, inky, blue-black colouring, which reflects the embryonic stage of firing control – roughly two decades before a brighter cobalt blue was accomplished.

    Among the other highlights of the sale are Persian and Indian paintings, an exceptional costume album for Ottoman Turkey in the 19th century, two rare ninth century works on astronomy in one volume and a Company School portrait of a large white heron.

    UPDATE:  It sold for £5.4 million following a 20 minute nine way bidding battle and quadrupling the previous record for Iznik pottery.  This was the top lot of  the auction, which explored over 1000 years’ creation, spanning three continents to bring a total of £8,988,325.


    Thursday, October 11th, 2018

    Banksy – Love is in the Bin 2018

    Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the shredder the sale of Banksy’s Girl with Balloon was confirmed by Sotheby’s with the new title Love is in the Bin.

    “Banksy didn’t destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one. Following his surprise intervention on the night, we are pleased to confirm the sale of the artist’s newly-titled Love is in the Bin, the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction.” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s Head of Contemporary Art, Europe.

    The buyer, a female European collector, commented:  “When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realise that I would end up with my own piece of art history”.  She has confirmed her decision to acquire the new work at the same price of £860,000 at hammer and a final sale price of £1,042,000 with Sotheby’s commission.

    Banksy has a history with pranking art establishments, having previously pulled stunts in the Louvre, Tate Britain, the British Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum.

    (See post and video on for October 7, 2018)


    Friday, October 5th, 2018

    Propped – Jenny Saville

    There was a new auction record for a living female artist when Propped by Jenny Saville sold for £9.5 million at Sotheby’s in London tonight. The self-portrait that shatters canonised representations of female beauty propelled a young Jenny Saville to renown.  Eight bidders vied for the the remarkable painting in a bidding battle lasting more than 10 minutes.

    It is from the collection of visionary collector, patron and museum trustee, the late David Teiger. Proceeds will benefit Teiger Foundation – soon to be one of the world’s largest and most significant contemporary art foundations.

    Painted in 1992, Propped compelled collector Charles Saatchi to acquire every work by the artist that he possibly could, and subsequently included it in the pivotal 1997 exhibition, Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Gallery at the Royal Academy of Art. Sensation truly introduced Saville to the British public and the provocative nature of the exhibition sparked record queues and a media frenzy.

    The auction debut of Saville’s Propped follows the successful sale of the artist’s monumental Shift in June 2016 (est. £1.5-2 million), which tripled the auction record for the artist when it sold for £6.8 million to The Long Museum, Shanghai.