Mohawk’ Schooner Sinks at $1.26 Million Maritime Sale in N.Y.

December 4, 2008 at 5:07 pm Leave a comment

Even an imposing 1875 schooner couldn’t stay afloat at a maritime auction at Christie’s International in New York yesterday.

A stormy seascape featuring the vessel “Mohawk” by 19th- century American painter James Edward Buttersworth failed to sell against estimates of $100,000 to $150,000.

A flotilla of paintings of yachts, cruise liners and battleships didn’t capture much interest overall. The 136-lot sale took in $1.26 million with fees but was estimated to total $3 million to $5 million.

Fifty-nine percent of the lots didn’t find buyers. Many of the sold pieces had large discounts to their estimates. “The American Clipper Rainbow Leaving New York” by Henry Scott fetched $3,750 against its low estimate of $8,000.

“In 20 years of doing marine art I’ve never seen so many paintings passed,” said Michael Florio of Quester Gallery in Rowayton, Connecticut, which specializes in marine art. “It’s a very tough environment out there right now.”

Earlier this week, contemporary Asian art sales in Hong Kong posted weak results as buyers lost confidence in one of the hottest and most speculative segments of the market.

At Christie’s, Alan Granby, a maritime art dealer and author based in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, underbid the sale’s top lot — a yacht-racing scene by Buttersworth — which sold to a telephone bidder for $194,500. Its estimate was $150,000 to $250,000.

Yesterday’s Market

He said he stopped bidding at $160,000 after he noticed the price was reaching the reserve level, or the minimum amount the owner allows the work to sell.

“You are bidding against the person’s expectation, and that’s yesterday’s market,” Granby said.

Granby was among the few mostly gray-haired patrons in the salesroom. He bought an 1876 Edward Moran painting, depicting the same year’s America’s Cup race, for $158,500 against the low estimate of $150,000.

“There are less than 10 paintings of the period depicting the America’s Cup races,” he said. “That made it very special. It’s not only a beautiful painting, but it’s also an historic one.”

A painting by Montague Dawson of an 1813 naval battle between American and British ships sold to a telephone bidder for $170,500, below its estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.

“The American Brig Argus Engaging His Majesty’s Sloop Pelican in British Waters, 14th August 1813,” came from the estate of Chicago collector and philanthropist Arthur I. Appleton.

Prices include a buyer’s premium, or commission, of 25 percent of the hammer price up to $50,000, 20 percent of the price from $50,000 to $1 million and 12 percent above $1 million. Estimates do not reflect commissions.

By Katya Kazakina
Bloomberg

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Entry filed under: Get Wet, Maritime. Tags: , , , , .

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