Americana Week Tops $47 Million in Auction Sales

Carl Clemens Moritz Rungius (1869-1959), In the Cedar Swamp, Oil on canvas, 36 by 42 inches, Estimate: $150,000-$250,000.
Carl Clemens Moritz Rungius (1869-1959), In the Cedar Swamp, Oil on canvas, 36 by 42 inches, Estimate: $150,000-$250,000. Sold for $241,500 at Copley Fine Art Auctions' Winter Sale 2012.
(Copley Fine Art Auctions)
Keno Auctions sold the Drake Family Carved and Painted Joined Chest for $632,400, a world auction record for a 17th century joined chest.
Keno Auctions sold the Drake Family Carved and Painted Joined Chest $632,400, a world auction record for a 17th century joined chest.

Nearly $47 million was spent on American art and antiques at five auction houses during Americana Week in New York. About 2,000 lots were offered in sales from January 16 to 22 during the focused series of events that includes a host of related antiques fairs, gallery shows, and museum exhibitions.

Five highlights from the sales:

In its annual Winter Sale, Boston-based Stephen B. O'Brien's firm Copley Fine Art Auctions delivered notable results for sporting art, decoys, and American paintings, including $241,500 for Carl Rungius's In The Cedar Swamp, from an estimate of $150,000-250,000.

Keno Auctions set a few new world record auction prices, among them, a Seventeenth Century carved and joined chest attributed to the Deacon John Moore of Windsor, Conn., which descended in one family, fetched $632,400 (est. $100,000-150,000). The sale totalled $2,626,000.

Fine American and European furniture and decorative arts brought $1,744,231 on January 19 at Bonhams, followed by important maritime paintings and decorative arts which grossed $717,438, boosted by James Buttersworth's 1875 oil depicition of the yachts Dauntless and Mohawk racing, which achieved $170,500.

A various owner sale at Christie's tallied $8,720,500 and The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph K. Ott brought $3,748,750. Of note, a signed John Townsend of Newport, R.I., block and shell carved mahogany documents cabinet, deaccessioned by the Chipstone Foundation, went to dealer G.W. Samaha for $3,442,500.

Samaha drove sales at Sotheby's, too. Among his purchases was a Newport high chest of drawers made by John Townsend for $3,554,500 (est. $2/3 million).

The results overall were not solely estimate-busters. Several marquee lots failed to find buyers, some fell below estimates, and others performed at an expected level such as a complete edition of John James Audubon's "The Birds of America" which garnered a respectable $7,922,500 at Christie's one-lot sale on Jan. 20, not quite achieving the record $11.5 million price that this American masterpiece made in 2010.

One more auction at Christie's on January 24, featuring the Peter H. Frelinghuysen Jr. Collection of Chinese Export porcelain, saw a large Hong Bowl, circa 1785, more than doubled its low estimate to fetch $104,500.

Read more about the sales in Laura Beach's report.



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