Sotheby's American Sale Cruises Past Estimates

It's American Art Week right now in New York City with auction houses and galleries featuring the very best of American art from Sargent to Wyeth and Rockwell to Russell.  Sotheby's American Sale took place yesterday (May 22) and brought over $28 million compared to the high estimate of $24 million.  There were new auction records established for a few artists including William Keith and Milton Avery.  Avery’s Music Makers, on offer from the estate of screen star Gregory Peck and his wife Veronique, achieved $2,965,000 – double its $1.5 million high estimate.

Leading the sale was John Singer Sargent’s Marionettes from 1907, which achieved $5,205,000. The highly personal painting remained in the artist’s collection for more than 20 years before descending through his family to the owner who offered the work.  There were six paintings by Norman Rockwell in the sale and they performed well totaling $6,500,000, more than double its pre-sale estimate of $3 million.  Other highlights didn't just perform well, they blew their pre-sale estimates away.  A gouache by Max Weber, Soloist at Wanamaker's, sold for $112,500 compared to a low estimate of $15,000.  William Keith's 1876 Yosemite Valley scene crushed his previous auction record of $192,000 by selling for $755,000 compared to a $70,000 low estimate.

The Western portion performed well with An Enemy That Warns a bronze by Charles M. Russell selling for $437,000 compared to its low estimate of $40,000.  Frederic Remington's Call the Doctor, being sold by the Art Institute of Chicago brought $1,085,000.  These are good signs for the art market, and proves that collectors are comfortable being aggressive in acquiring works they covet.


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