Saturday, December 8, 2007

Christies Sale results

To be fair to the other premier auction house in the world, Christies, I will cover the results of this weeks sale. Christies had no great stars this time, unlike Sotheby's Guennol Goddess. The attendance after that spectacular sale the day before was sparse it was reported by an attendee, and the bidding anemic. However, even so, some pieces sold quite well, although there were some major disappointments.

Roman silver skyphos, two views. Lot 158, estimated $700,000. to $900,000. failed to sell.
In person the preservation of detail is not so good, it appears worn and unclear, even though the quality and complexity of the iconography indicates the highest level of production.

Primary amongst those was the failure of the Roman silver skyphos to sell. In the results you get online, if an object does not sell, is passed in auctioneer terms, its number simply is not there in the results. Judging by that, it did not sell, which given the high estimate, about one million dollars, must be a blow. Some other major lots failed to sell as well, including another silver piece below:

Roman silver platter, First Century A.D.
Estimated $300,000. - 500,000., failed to sell as well.
This piece is brilliantly well preserved with crisp details and a beautiful surface, it looks like it is only one hundred years old rather than the two thousand it really is. The failure of this to sell is harder for me to understand.

The two pieces above and the other items that did not sell in auctions illustrated the point that the high price realized by the Goddess does not translate to every antiquity.

Lest you think the Christies sales were a bust, there were some very good prices realized, below are a few highlights.

Mesopotamian Limestone Head, ca 2500 B.C.
At 4 1/2 inches high, this piece is monumental for its type, and nearly perfectly preserved with all its inlays. It must have come from a major sculpture, most of this period and culture are smaller. It was estimated at $150,000-250,000., and sold with the buyer premium for $241,000., a healthy price.

Egyptian Monumental Sandstone Head of Ramses II, ca. 1290 B.C.
my own photo, the Christies photos did not convey the drama of the piece.

Estimated at $400,000.-600,000. this sold for $517,000., including buyer premium. I was underwhelmed by the head from the photos online and in the catalogue, but in real life this is a majestic object, it is very well carved if damaged, and is just so big, it is over two feet tall, which does not seem like much until you are in its presence and you realize it is over twice life sized. It sold on the low end of its estimated range, but still respectably well.

Egyptian bronze scepter finial in the shape of the head of a jackal.
XIXth Dynasty, ca 1300 B.C., 4 1/2 inches high.

Again a piece I had hardly glanced at from the online photos, this in real life was a commanding if small object. I took my own photo because I found the ones Christies took did not capture the drama and impact of this little jackal head, probably the god Anubis. It was estimated at $80,000.-120,000., and sold for $229,000., again quite respectable and well over estimate.

The vulva gem illustrated in my earlier post on Christies also sold well for $27,400., it was estimated at just $1,000.-1,500. So obviously what drew my attention to it, did others willing to pay for it. The cover piece, the elaborate ring also in that prior post sold for $46,600., well over its $15,000.-20,000. estimate.

So all in all Christies realized the types of prices that the antiquities world is used to, healthy but not particularly noteworthy, no where near the values of Impressionist or Modern Masters or now even, contemporary art. The Guennol Goddess is a one of, until the next great antiquity in a public collection comes up for sale.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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