Around the Auction World: May 2022
The spring auction season is officially in full swing. This month, the largest auction houses released coveted treasures to the top of the market, and mid-level companies offered fresh finds to the discerning collector. We spoke with several experts to understand the trends and take a closer look at some of the curated catalogs.
Here are the top headlines from around the auction world this May.
This month, Auction Daily spoke with Potter & Potter Auctions’ president and auctioneer Gabe Fajuri following the house’s Matrix-themed sale. The mid-month event featured memorabilia, props, awards, and concept art from movies led by producers, directors, and sisters Lilly and Lana Wachowski. The Wachowski Collection sale yielded countless headlines, plus a donation of over USD 300,000 to the Protect and Defend Trans Youth Fund.
We also followed up on the record-setting sale of a Jean Siméon Chardin strawberries painting that attracted attention in March of 2022. While it sold for $26.8 million to a New York dealer (later revealed to represent Texas’ Kimbell Art Museum), the Louvre blocked its sale on cultural grounds. The fate of the Chardin strawberries painting remains unknown.
What’s Coming Up
Auction Daily looked ahead to note important events coming up around the auction world next month. From New York’s Nazmiyal Auctions comes a major vintage and modern rug sale, scheduled for June 12, 2022. The catalog especially features pictorial rugs and carpets. These weavings, which depict people, places, or scenes, have strong ties to cultures around the world. Among the top lots are Persian Mashahir carpets and Israeli Marbediah rugs from the early 20th century.
Collectors can also anticipate more blockbuster sales to continue the spring auction season. Many auction houses have also set their sights on social causes that address tragedies such as the ongoing war in Ukraine. Benefit auctions are on the rise as art market players seek to divert dollars to worthy causes.
Inside the Auction World
Before a major 20th-century design sale at Rago Arts and Auction, we checked in with the company’s Senior Specialist of Early 20th-Century Design, Mike Fredericks. He shared insights about some of the top lots, including an Ipswich vase produced by Annie Aldrich and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead. Fredericks also noted the continued market strength of original Tiffany lamps.
Elsewhere, Bonhams’ Natural History department offered a curated auction of fine gems, pearls, meteorites, and other collectibles. We checked in with the company’s Consulting Director of Natural History, Claudia Florian, to get the story on some of the lots. She shared the key to becoming a successful opal miner (being “a hopeless optimist”), as well as the science behind the uncommon but lovely lavender “quahog pearls” of the North Atlantic.
The top of the art market was busy this May. At Sotheby’s, the long-anticipated second half of the Macklowe Collection finally crossed the block. It set a new record for the most expensive single-owner private art collection ever sold at auction. We analyzed which factors made this collection so successful.
Quote of the Month
“I never thought I’d see a sale of the Macklowe collection. I’m thrilled by it. Not by the economics, but by the quality being recognized by collectors. Everybody endorsing the choices we made over the last 65 years, that was the greatest payback.”
– Harry Macklowe on the sale of his and Linda Macklowe’s art collection at Sotheby’s