Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Ahlers & Ogletree
ATLANTA, GA. – Ahlers & Ogletree’s June Fine Estates & Collections auctions, June 9-11, offered 1,216 lots of estate property, which saw a 96 percent sell-through rate and a combined total of $1,274,407. The sale inaugurated the firm’s new dedicated digital selling platform, which – combined with Invaluable, LiveAuctioneers and Bidsquare – gave bidders several options in addition to phone, absentee and in-the-room bidding.
“It was a really strong sale and we’re very pleased,” noted Elizabeth Rickenbaker, Ahlers & Ogletree’s director. “We’ve been seeing some really strong sell-through rates in the last 18 months and are not seeing any downturn. We had a lot of new bidders in this three-session sale. We have had some very interesting things that have crossed the podium, and single owner sales, and buyers are really attracted to that.”
“Interesting” would certainly describe the sale’s top lot, a pair of monumental Chinese cloisonné horses that came from the Atlanta collection of Veronica Holmes. Rickenbaker described the pair as “amazing,” with cloisonne no one at Ahlers & Ogletree “had ever seen on that scale.” She confirmed that competition on the horses had been fierce, with several Chinese bidders in the room going head to head with bidders online; in the end, an Asian buyer based in the United States, bidding online, had acquired the pair for $49,600, well ahead of the estimate of $4/6,000.
Asian works of art were of interest to Holmes, who also collected African and Southeast Asian works. Other highlights from her collection included a 132-piece flatware service by Reed & Barton, in the Love Disarmed pattern, which sold within estimate to a buyer in the United States for $12,400.
The horsey theme of the top lot carried over into the lot that had the second highest result, a bronze sculpture of Napoleon on horseback, after Comte Alfred-Emile De Nieuwerkerke (French 1811-1892). Cast at the Susse Freres foundry, the 38-inch-tall bronze was from the Blakely estate of Buford, Ga. Rickenbaker said several in-house bidders competed for it but a buyer from the United Kingdom, bidding on the phone, won it for $22,320.
According to Rickenbaker, the Blakelys had “an exquisite eye;” nearly 50 lots in the sale were from them, and many of their things attracted widespread appeal. Such was the case with an eight-piece Gorham Martele silver tea and coffee service a bidder from the Southern United States topped off at $17,360. The same price was realized by a Gorham sterling silver tureen in the Tudor pattern that had been created for, and exhibited at, the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Rickenbaker said the auction house had done “a fair amount of marketing for [it], because we had records from the Gorham archive.” It found a new home with a Tennessee buyer.
Rounding out highlights from the Blakely estate was a bronze titled “Charging Bull Elephant” by Charles Louis Eugene Virion (French 1865-1946), which ran from its $8/12,000 estimate to close at $11,780.
Atlanta collector, Ruth West, offered 214 lots in the sale, most of them on the first day. Four of the top prices in that session belonged to her consignments and represented a variety of categories, from folk art and contemporary African American art to Midcentury Modern silver. Of particular interest were two works by Beverly Buchanan (America, 1940-2015), both of which represented Buchanan’s vision of vernacular Southern architecture. One was a colorful “Bridge Shack” that sold to a buyer in Korea for $13,640, while the plain white “White House Assemblage” sold to a buyer in New York for $6,820.
“We had the opportunity to handle impactful works by African American artists and we were pleased with how well it performed,” recalled Rickenbaker. One of the works she was referring to, and also from Ruth West’s collection, was “Emancipation Approximation” by Kara Walker (American, b 1969). The screenprint on paper was from an Artist Proof edition of five done in 2000; it sold to a buyer in California for $13,640.
Tony Hernandez (American b 1964) is represented by a gallery in Atlanta and Rickenbaker said his works are always very popular there. “In Ten Years,” an oil and encaustic on panel, signed and dated 2010, found a new home in Atlanta, for $10,540.
Rickenbaker said the auction house “was nicely surprised” by the result of a Dale Chihuly (America, b 1941) sculptural glass vessel from his “Venetian” series. Rickenbaker, who has handled Chihuly extensively in her career, said it was an unusual form for the artist in that scale – it measured just 8¾ inches high by 10-1/8 inches wide. Consigned from an Alabama estate, it sold to an Atlanta buyer, who took it from a $3/5,000 estimate to $18,600.
Several Serapi carpets were offered on the second and third days of sale with the highest flying one going out at $17,360. Palace sized and dating to the late Nineteenth Century, the hand-knotted Persian example had a triple medallion with pendants in navy and rust on a cream ground with geometric floral motifs allover and meandering bird, hamsa and palmette border. Rickenbaker said some very knowledgeable bidders who saw it said they had never seen the exact color and structure before. Some condition issues likely kept the result from flying higher.
Some of the prices on traditional furniture and fine art were noteworthy. A New York buyer paid $11,160 for a pair of mid-Nineteenth Century English landscape paintings by Joseph Thors (English, circa 1835-1900) that had provenance to the estate of Charles Hammock, Jr. The result was exceptional as the pair had been estimated at just $600-800.
The same estimate – $600/800 – had been put on a Queen Anne style red chinoiserie secretary that topped the traditional furniture category when it sold to a Georgia buyer for $6,820.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Ahlers & Ogletree’s next sale will take place August 25-27.
For information, 404-869-2478 or www.aandoauctions.com.
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