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    Monday, October 9th, 2023
    Pair of George II Carved Giltwood Armchairs, Circa 1760. UPDATE: THESE SOLD FOR $152,400

    This pair of Irish George II carved giltwood armchairs, one bearing the label R Stahan and Co., come up at Sotheby’s in New York on October 17 as part of a sale of Classic Design: Furniture, Silver and Ceramics. They are estimated at $100,000-$150,000. The chairs may have been commissioned by Charles Moore, 1st Earl of Charleville, an Irish peer and wealthy owner of large estates in County Limerick and Charleville Forest in County Offaly, who died without issue in February 1794, the estates passing to his nephew John Bury in 1764, who would himself pass away only six months later, leaving his newborn son Charles William as heir. Charles would become an Irish MP and later peer and was made Earl of Charleville 2nd creation in 1806. He used his large fortune to commission the architect Francis Johnston (d.1829) to erect a new house on the Charleville estate between 1800 and 1812 in the form of a medieval castle. Following the death of the 5th Earl without issue in 1875, Charleville Castle and its contents passed to his sister Lady Julia, who had married Captain Kenneth Howard-Bury (1846–1885), and their son Charles would inherit the estate in 1931.

    Charles Kenneth Howard-Bury was a colourful character from the waning generations of the Anglo-Irish elite. Following his education at Eton and Sandhurst he joined the army and was sent to India, where he developed a taste for exploration, learnt Hindi and Urdu and went on tiger and crocodile hunting expeditions. After distinguished service in Flanders during World War I he returned to India and went on the first British expedition to Mount Everest, where he described wolves’ footprints in the snow that were mistranslated as belonging to an ‘Abominable Snowman’, thus giving rise to the expression for the first time. On his return to Ireland he resided at Belvedere House, a lakeside Palladian villa designed by Robert Cassels in 1740 inherited from his cousin Charles Brinsley Marlay in 1912. Whilst serving in the army during World War II, Howard-Bury met the RAF pilot Rex Beaumont (1914-1988) who became his companion and settled in Ireland after the war. A former Shakespearean actor informally known as ‘Sexy Rexy’, Beaumont and Howard-Bury became prominent local figures and entertained lavishly, their guests reputedly including Princess Grace of Monaco, the Crown Prince of Sweden, Charlie Chaplin and Elizabeth Arden.

    The sale includes two pieces attributed to William Moore, a c1780 demi lune side table ($30,000-$50,000) and a c1790 demi lune commode ($50,000-$80,000).

    An Irish George III Harewood, Tulipwood, Burr Yew and Sycamore Marquetry Demilune Commode attributed to William Moore of Dublin, Circa 1790. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $20,320


    Friday, October 6th, 2023
    Pablo Picasso – Compotier et guitare,1932

    One of Pablo Picasso’s most unique still lifes, containing coded references to his famed “Golden muse,”
    Marie-Thérèse Walter at a time when their clandestine affair remained a secret, comes up at Sotheby’s Modern evening auction in New York on November 13. Compotier et guitare was completed the day before Valentine’s Day while in the throes of his secretive affair with Marie-Thérèse. It was not until later in 1932 with the opening of Picasso’s celebrated retrospective at the Galeries Georges Petit in Paris that their affair would become public. Selected by Picasso to star in this exhibition (the first and only time he installed his own work), Compotier et guitare’s veiled portrait was exhibited alongside numerous portraits of Marie-Thérèse, announcing to the world that she was his muse. It is estimated in the region of $25 million, placing it among the most valuable still lifes by the artist at auction.


    Thursday, October 5th, 2023
    Gerhard Richter – Abstraktes Bild. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    Gerhard Richter’s Abstract Painting is among the highlights at Sotheby’s Contemporary evening sale in London on October 12. It is estimated at £16-£20 million. Other contemporary highlights including a study for a portrait by Francis Bacon and art by Philip Guston, Robert Ryman, Sigmar Polke and Sean Scully.

    This October, Sotheby’s will once more bring together two series of sales in London and Paris, coinciding with the world renowned Frieze and Paris + par Art Basel art fairs. The auctions will present a diverse selection of works by the most exciting artists emerging on the auction scene, alongside established titans of the 20th and 21st centuries.


    Thursday, September 14th, 2023
    Freddie Mercury’s silver moustache comb, Tiffany & Co., late 20th century. 

    THE top estimate was £600 but Freddie Mercury’s silver moustache comb sold for a whopping £152,400 at the final day of the Queen frontman’s series of online sales at Sotheby’s in London yesterday. The little comb by Tiffany and Co. ignited the public interest at the month long exhibition at Sotheby’s before the series of Freddie Mercury sales.


    Wednesday, September 13th, 2023
    Pablo Picasso, Femme à la montre, 1932, oil on canvas, 51 1?4 x 38 inches. Estimate in excess of $120 million. UPDATE: THIS MADE $139 MILLION

    An Era Defined is the title of the sales of the Emily Fisher Landau Collection at Sotheby’s in New York on November 8 and 9 next. The collection is synonymous with connoisseurship and quality, and also speaks to Mrs. Fisher Landau’s voracious and instinctive approach to collecting. From Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, and Fernand Léger, through to Ed Ruscha and Jasper Johns, alongside Mark Tansey and Glenn Ligon, the collection traces the greatest achievements of 20th-century art, in each case through key masterpiece examples. Following a series of international exhibition some 120 exceptional works from the collection, estimated to bring well over $400 million, will be offered for sale at Sotheby’s.

    MARK TANSEY – Triumph Over Mastery II. UPDATE: THIS MADE $11.8 MILLION

    Mrs. Fisher Landau’s collecting journey began in the late 1960s with the purchase of a striking Alexander Calder mobile and with a chance encounter with a poster advertising a forthcoming Josef Albers show at Pace Gallery, from which three major acquisitions followed. Mrs. Fisher Landau began to put together a major ensemble of works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Jean Arp, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Paul Klee and Louise Nevelson among others. All were complemented, in later years, by the work of artists she came to know and patronize directly, many of whom she collected in depth. Few collectors have been as committed to building relationships with artists as she: from post-war titans such as Ed Ruscha and Jasper Johns to artists at the vanguard in the 21st century, such as Glenn Ligon and Mark Tansey.

    Beginning in the mid-1980s, and over the course of the next four decades, Mrs. Fisher Landau was deeply involved with the Whitney Museum in so many ways: a member of the acquisition committees, she also endowed the Museum’s famous Whitney Biennial exhibitions and in 2010 made a landmark donation of nearly 400 works, which was subsequently exhibited under the title “Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection”. The fourth floor of the Breuer building remains named in her honour.



    Thursday, September 7th, 2023

    Freddie Mercury’s Yamaha grand piano sold for £1,742,000 at Sotheby’s last evening. Though slightly below estimate it was a record for a composers piano. He used it to compose some of Queen’s greatest hits. An original 15-page manuscript for their epic hit Bohemian Rhapsody, with the working title “Mongolian Rhapsody” and which reveals in its notes the different directions Mercury saw the track going in, was sold for £1.3 million. The first night of the Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own auction series saw bidders from 61 countries drive 93% of lots over their estimate, with Bohemian Rhapsody lyrics and Freddie’s Yamaha piano leading the sale. Sales on the opening night brought in £12.2 million in a white glove auction where every one of nearly 60 lots sold. A month long exhibition at Sotheby’s in advance of the sales drew nearly 140,000 visitors.

    The second day of the sale on September 7 brought in £9.4 million.


    Thursday, August 31st, 2023
    Freddie Mercury’s silver moustache comb, Tiffany & Co., late 20th century. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £152,400

    Freddie Mercury’s silver moustache comb has caught the imagination of the public and is a surprise hit of the series of sales at Sotheby’s in London and online due to get underway next week. Estimated at £400-£600 the current bid stands at £26,000. The London exhibition at Sotheby’s, Freddie Mercury, A World of his Own, has already drawn 40,000 visitors. It runs until September 5, the day before the live auctions begin.


    Wednesday, August 23rd, 2023
    An Irish white glazed figure of a seated cat, Belleek, 1930s

    This 1930’s Belleek cat is one of a number of Irish lots in the online sales of the Freddie Mercury collection now ongoing at Sotheby’s. The cat is lot 1501 in the Freddie Mercury, a World of His Own sale, Crazy Little Things, which runs until September 11. The white glazed cat is estimated at £50-£60 but such is the popularity of the sale that it will make a lot more. Lot 1587 in the same sale is a large group of mixed European linen damask and cotton. It comprises various large damask linen cloths some with matching napkins, other white work embroidered and pulled-work table cloths, napkins and various other small groups of napkins, tape lace place mats, together with two new unused Irish ‘Fingal’ linen double damask cloths, ‘Celtic’ and ‘Chrysanthemum’ designs, a box of six new ‘Chrysanthemum’ design napkins and a group of 28 new ‘Artraco’ white spotted napkins. The estimate is £400-£600 but again these will sell for a lot more.

    In the live At Home sale in London on September 8 is a c1760 George III giltwood mirror described as possibly Irish. The estimate is £2,000-£3,000.


    Sunday, August 13th, 2023
     Handwritten manuscript working  lyrics to We are the Champions. UPDATE: THESE SOLD FOR £317,500

    Freddie Mercury’s baby grand, the matched wedding rings of Bogie and  Bacall, a first edition of The Great Gatsby from the collection of Charlie Watts and Sir Roger Moore’s Lamborghini skis are among an extraordinary collection of celebrity stuff soon to come up at blockbuster sales in London and Hollywood. Collectibles like these are big business.  With fans everywhere and global auction access online the business is growing exponentially.

    A c1905 Art Nouveau glass vase lamp from the collection of Freddie Mercury. UPDATE: THIS MADE £22,860

    Right now every inch of Sotheby’s 16,000  gallery space at New Bond St. in London is given over to a free exhibition of the world of Freddie Mercury in advance of three auctions on September 6, 7 and 8.  Online Mercury sales already underway will run to September 11, 12 and 13.  On offer are costumes, hand written lyrics, drawings, furniture, decorative and fine art that were part of his life at his London home, Garden Lodge in Kensington.The centre piece of the exhibition is his treasured Yamaha G2 Baby Grand.  More than a decade of hits, from Bohemian Rhapsody to Barcelona, were composed on this treasured piano.  Always kept in pristine condition it is estimated at £2 million – £3 million.  There are handwritten working lyrics for Bohemian Rhapsody, Don’t Stop Me Now and Somebody to Love, costumes relating to promotional videos including a two piece stage outfit comprising catsuit and bolero of ivory satin with winged wrists and lower legs inspired by the God Mercury.

     Henri Matisse – Masque Blanc sur Fond Noir from the collection of Freddie Mercury. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £30,480

    Freddie Mercury was a discriminating collector who loved going to auctions.  In 1980 he acquired Garden Lodge, a Georgian style brick villa, and set about creating a home that was both grand and intimate, richly furnished and entirely of his own making. The auction will include art by Matisse, James Tissot, Picasso and Utagawa Hiroshige, Victorian paintings and works on paper, the finest examples of the glass makers art, exceptional fabrics and fine works collected on trips to Japan.  All are on view at Sotheby’s in an exhibition that will close on September 5, the day that would have been Freddie Mercury’s 77th birthday.

    The matching 14 carat gold wedding rings exchanged by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in May 1945 at Julien’s. UPDATE: THESE SOLD FOR $190,500

    Iconic objects from some of Hollywood’s greatest legends will come up at a sale by Turner Classic Movies and Julien’s Auctions on September 6, 7 and 8.  There is everything from dresses worn by Princess Diana and Audrey Hepburn to a slave costume worn by Princess Leia in Star Wars, Captain Kirk’s Star Fleet command jacket and the 1945 wedding rings of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. James Bond, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Back to the Future and Batman will all feature in a sale celebrating 100 years of Warner Brothers.

    A library of First Edition classics and landmarks from the world of jazz will come up at Christie’s sale of the collection of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts (1941-2021).  The sale is led by a first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby inscribed by the author to the original Gatsby of the story. There are iconic works of detective fiction by Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle alongside the best of English and American literature of the 20th century. Charlie Watts: Gentleman, Collector, Rolling Stone will take place in London on September 28.  An online sale will run from September 15-29.  Meantime Bonhams will offer 180 lots from the personal collection of Bond actor and UNICEF ambassador Sir Roger Moore (1927-2017) in London on October 4.  This marks the 50th anniversary year of his first appearance as 007.  There is Bond memorabilia like dinner suits and jackets, collectibles like a Hollywood Walk of Fame plaque and personal items like silk ties and cravats along with a pair of his Lamborghini skis.


    Friday, August 4th, 2023

    The doors to the full and fascinating world of Fredde Mercury open today at Sotheby’s in London. Every inch of Sotheby’s 16,000 square foot gallery space in New Bond Street has been given over to the vast array of costumes, hand-written lyrics, drawings, furniture, and decorative and fine art that were so much a part of Mercury’s
    life and with which he lived in his beautiful London home, Garden Lodge. At the heart of the exhibition will be the piano pictured here – revealed today for the first time – that was deeply precious to Mercury and a vital element in the creation of his greatest compositions: his treasured Yamaha G2 Baby Grand Piano, estimated at £2-3 million. On it he composed over a decade of hits, from Bohemian Rhapsody to Barcelona.

    By 1975, the trusty old upright piano on which Freddie had composed the hits on Queen’s first three albums was no longer equal to his ever more panoramic musical ambitions. With the financial backing of music mogul Don Arden – who was unsuccessfully attempting to woo Queen to his management table – Freddie set out to find the perfect piano, with a sound that resonated with his evolving musical ambitions. After an intensive search lasting many weeks, he finally found what he was looking for: a rare baby grand with an easy keyboard action, an elegant look, and a particularly clean and clear sound, made by the Japanese manufacturer Yamaha, who had only recently started importing their instruments to England. The piano would just about fit into the small apartment he was sharing at the time with Mary Austin. As she recalls, ‘Freddie treated the Yamaha with absolute respect. He considered it to be more than an instrument, it was an extension of himself, his vehicle of creativity. He would never smoke at the piano or rest a glass on top of it and would ensure nobody else did either. The piano was always pristine.’

    The new piano very soon proved its worth. In the months after its arrival, he used it to develop and hone the epic track Bohemian Rhapsody, released towards the end of that year. The London exhibition continues until September 5. On September 6, 7 and 8 Sotheby’s will hold three auctions devoted to the Freddie Mercury Collection. Meantime three online Freddie Mercury auctions running to September 11, 12 and 13 will get underway on August 11.

    (See post on for April 26, 2023)