Native American trending upward at John Moran auctions

PASADENA, Calif. – Following a short summer lull in their event calendar, John Moran Auctioneers is gearing up to enter a whirlwind autumnal auction season. The first of these events, the Sept. 29 Decorative Art Auction, offered some stellar highlights and definite surprises. With over 230 cataloged lots, the sale offered interesting buys for collectors of Native American basketry, jewelry and Navajo textiles, for California and American art enthusiasts, as well as for traditionalists seeking Continental decorative arts and silver. provided absentee and Internet live bidding.

One of the most anticipated items in Moran’s September sale was a Navajo second phase chief’s blanket (above). Bidding opened at $13,000 and finally topped out at the high estimate. The winning bidder paid $43,750. Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.

A collector of Native American textiles snapped up a room-size gray-field Navajo rug with geometric diamond designs in back, red and white for $4,375 (est: $1,000 to $1,500), while a finely woven rug in the form of a 48-star American flag flew to $5,100, many times the initial $400 to $600 estimate.

Navajo, Zuni and Pueblo jewelry achieved strong prices throughout the evening. A stone-inlaid silver Zuni belt accompanied by a first-place ribbon from the 1975 Los Angeles American Indian Western Relic Show was conservatively estimated to earn between $600 and $800, but wound up going to a collector for $1,476. A handsome Navajo turquoise and silver cuff (below) bearing the mark of an unidentified artist inspired competition between multiple online bidders and hammered at the high estimate, realizing $840 (est: $500-$700).

Art glass auction Oct. 30 benefits National Liberty Museum

PHILADELPHIA – National Liberty Museum will present its 16th annual Glass Auction & Gala on Oct. 30. The event will be offering guests and bidders an array of exciting new elements, including a new venue, new date, and the work of exciting, new glass artists, contributing to the auction for the first time. More than 60 pieces of artwork will also be available for purchase via remote bidding on

This year, the museum’s most important annual fundraiser – designed to spotlight its most celebrated art medium, glass art – will be held at the Moulin in Sherman Mills, Pa., creating a magical start to Halloween weekend. All event proceeds will benefit the NLM’s character and leadership programs, including the NLM’s proprietary Young Heroes Outreach Program, a year-long, innovative, educational initiative for fourth through eighth grade that empowers students in the areas of leadership, civic engagement and social justice.

The annual event will bring together hundreds of artists, collectors and glass influencers for an event fueled by creative energy and fast-paced bidding. The live event will feature the glass art creations of approximately 200 rising and renowned glass artists whose work is collectively valued at approximately $1 million. Online bidding includes 60-plus pieces from dozens of artists around the globe.

From glass jewelry, to intricate centerpieces, to elaborate sculptures, the glass art showcased at the event is designed by both masters of contemporary art as well as international rising stars, many of whom donated their glass art for the cause. As a highlight of the evening, the NLM will recognize internationally renowned glass artist Lu Chi, who is traveling from Mainland China to attend the event, as its 2015 Artist Honoree.
“Glass art gives our educators a special language to talk with young people about the concept of liberty. The art form effectively makes the point to students that, as our next generation of leaders, each will play an important role in sustaining liberty, fragile like a piece of glass, by behaving as responsible and ethical adults,” said Gwen Borowsky, CEO of the National Liberty Museum.

The National Liberty Museum’s 2015 Artist Honoree is internationally renowned glass artist Lu Chi, a pioneer of the Chinese contemporary glass art movement. She received an MFA degree in glass from Tsinghua University and became the first professional glass artist in China, Mainland. Her works are included in collections worldwide, and she has donated to the National Liberty Museum’s Glass Auction & Gala many times.

The National Liberty Museum’s annual Glass Auction & Gala celebrates the NLM’s mission to preserve America’s heritage of freedom by fostering good character, civic responsibility, and respect for all people, through the museum’s chosen art medium: glass. The NLM is the only museum worldwide that uses glass art as a symbol for liberty, regarding it as beautiful and strong, yet fragile. The NLM is renowned for its extensive glass art collection with pieces ranging from Dale Chihuly’s famous 20-foot-tall Flame of Liberty installation to the numerous works by national and international artists complementing the exhibits in the galleries.

Heritage brings contemporary art auction to NY stage Nov. 14

NEW YORK – Surveillance Camera, 2010, an evocative sculpture by celebrated artist Ai Weiwei leads Heritage Auctions’ fall Modern & Contemporary Art Auction to be held for the first time ever in New York City on Oct. 28. Absentee and Internet bidding will be provided by Auction Central News.

The auction’s carefully curated selection includes important works by Robert Motherwell, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Tom Wesselman, among others; as well as a collection of five works from a distinguished New York collection featuring works by Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Graham, Arshile Gorky, Franz Kline and Bob Thompson.

“Heritage Auctions is increasingly attracting important Modern and Contemporary artworks and the time has come to bring it these auctions to the New York stage,” said Leon Benrimon, director of modern and contemporary art at Heritage Auctions in New York. “We have a carefully curated selection of works to perfectly capitalize on our recent New York and international expansions and capture collector’s attention in a very real way.”

Fellows hits pay dirt with successful Blue John mineral auction

LONDON – Fellows Auctioneers held their highly anticipated Blue John mineral sale Oct. 5. With high hammer prices being the norm for the day, Fellows recorded an exceptional 95 percent sold rate. provided absentee and Internet live bidding.

All prices quoted are hammer prices, exclusive of the buyer’s premium.

Everything from delicate small bowls and goblets, to urns and large ornate items made up this collection of over 250 pieces, which is thought to be the largest ever sold at auction. There were also successful buyers bidding on raw Blue John material, such as Lot 161, a Blue John boulder which sold for 10 times its conservative estimate (£50-£80) with a hammer price of £560. As well as beautifully crafted bowls and goblets that fetched from as little as £500 to well over £1,000.

Mark Huddleston, antique and fine art specialist at Fellows led the sale. “Blue John is big news at the moment following the discovery of a major new seam at Treak Cliff in Derbyshire,” he said, noting its popularity was evident in Fellows’ auction.

With private and trade buyers filling the seats, along with international customers on the telephones and online, hammer highlights were easy to come by. Lot 1, a fine Blue John pedestal dish or tazza (above), sold with a hammer price of £4,400, double the £1,500-£2,000 estimate. Ending the sale with the star piece attributed to Matthew Boulton (below) selling for £21,000.

Large Calder painting tops $109,000 at Cottone Auctions

GENESEO, N.Y. – A large and vibrant painting by Alexander Calder titled Bosbies & Uniforms sold for $109,250 at a fine art and antiques auction held Sept. 25-26 by Cottone Auctions. provided absentee and Internet live bidding.

That the painting broke through the $100,000 mark came as no surprise. Works by Calder are highly collectible and in constant demand. He is best known for his kinetic abstract mobiles and floor pieces, but was also an adept painter, working in watercolor, oil and gouache. Bosbies & Uniforms, typical of Calder’s style, was the top lot in an auction that grossed about $2 million.

“Obviously we were thrilled with what the Calder piece sold for, but the fact is the whole sale was strong across the board and across all categories,” said Matt Cottone of Cottone Auctions.

Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 15 percent buyer’s premium.

A wonderful example of Modern Design artwork by the Spanish-born master Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), a rendering on a plate titled Woman’s Face (below), with two stamps on the underside for “Madura Plein Feu” and “D’Apres Picasso,” sold for $25,300.

Collector’s phonographs, sound and optical devices a trip back in time

TELL CITY, Ind. (AP) Stepping into Joe Powell’s home is like traveling back in time to the turn of the 20th century.

Phonographs of all sizes, makes and designs line nearly every square inch of space along the walls in every room. The only room which might not have one is the kitchen, and that is probably because it is full of antique crockery and vintage advertisements.

I just eat on the couch, he said.

Phonographs are not the only collectibles to take up space in Powell’s home. A flip-card machine that uses stereoscope photographs to show a movie starring Charlie Chaplin in Party Time holds a place of honor. A hand-cranked street organ on steel wheels only needs a monkey to complete the scene. Wall telephones, Dictaphones and radios are all part of his home museum.

After I got divorced I just went to some auctions to have something to do, Powell said of his beginnings in the collection hobby. I always liked those old radios, so I bought an old radio. If it’s torn-up broke, people aren’t going to put out that much (money). I can fix them myself, so I’ve got the edge on a lot of people.

I’ve sold a lot of stuff through the years. I just fix things up to sell to make a few bucks so I can buy more stuff, he said.

It is apparent while visiting Powell’s home the phonograph is his favorite device. According to Powell, Thomas Edison’s 1877 invention once used tinfoil as the recording implement. It soon favored a wax cylinder and later, a disc. Powell has the complete history of the phonograph on display, including mannequins of Edison and other characters dressed in period garb. One straw hat-wearing character started out as a boy mannequin from a local clothing store.