Original 82-Inch diameter hero United Planets Cruiser C-57D flying saucer filming miniature from Forbidden Planet. $80,000 - $120,000. Image courtesy Profiles in History.

Profiles in History gives thumbs up to Dec. 11 movie memorabilia sale

Original 82-Inch diameter hero United Planets Cruiser C-57D flying saucer filming miniature from Forbidden Planet.  $80,000 - $120,000. Image courtesy Profiles in History.

Original 82-Inch diameter hero United Planets Cruiser C-57D flying saucer filming miniature from Forbidden Planet. $80,000 – $120,000. Image courtesy Profiles in History.

CALABASAS, Calif. – Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber from Star Wars and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is expected to capture $150,000-$180,000 as the top prop at a movie memorabilia auction to be held Dec. 11. More than 500 iconic pieces of Hollywood history are expected to total $3 million at Profiles in History’s 33rd Hollywood Auction.

Many of Hollywood’s greatest heroes will be represented.

Harrison Ford’s signature Indiana Jones fedora and whip from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom are expected to top $40,000-$60,000 each. The hero’s machete from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom carries a $80,000-$100,000 estimate.

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This Chippendale-style mahogany highboy stands 87 inches high. Image courtesy Pook and Pook Inc.

Pook & Pook’s largest-ever Variety Sale up for bids Dec. 4-5

This Chippendale-style mahogany highboy stands 87 inches high. Image courtesy Pook and Pook Inc.

This Chippendale-style mahogany highboy stands 87 inches high. Image courtesy Pook and Pook Inc.

DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. – More than 1,500 lots of furniture, art and accessories will cross the auction block as Pook & Pook Inc. conducts its largest-ever Variety Sale Dec. 4-5. Included in this expansive sale are 200 lots from the collection of Richard and Rosemarie Machmer.

The furniture up for auction includes an interesting mix of American, Continental and English pieces. This assortment is composed of sideboards, Dutch cupboards, corner cupboards, chests of drawers, sofas, chairs, beds, tea tables, candle stands, dining tables, tall case clocks, children’s furniture and various other furniture items.

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Image courtesy Bonhams.

Russian vase tops half-million mark in Bonhams’ Nov. 20 auction

Image courtesy Bonhams.

Image courtesy Bonhams.

NEW YORK – A spectacular Russian vase thought to have been included in the wedding dowry of a daughter of Czar Nicholas I, was undeniably the most coveted lot of Bonhams’ $1.6 million Nov. 20 sale of European Furniture and Decorative Arts in New York City.

Created by the Imperial Porcelain Factory at St. Petersburg, the beautifully detailed urn resided in a Dutch family collection since the 1920s and was only recently rediscovered and identified by Bonhams specialists on the West Coast, where the family now resides.

The body is finely painted with luxurious floral garlands and is applied with elaborate gilt-bronze foliate mounts attributed to the Felix Chopin workshop.

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Image courtesy Grey Flannel Auctions.

Iconic props from Survivor TV series in Grey Flannel’s Dec. 14 auction

Image courtesy Grey Flannel Auctions.

Image courtesy Grey Flannel Auctions.

SPEONK, N.Y. – A collection of iconic objects used during the taping of the CBS Television reality series Survivor is a featured attraction in Grey Flannel Auctions’ live sale of coin-ops, antique advertising, toys and entertainment memorabilia to be held Dec. 14 in Speonk, N.Y. Absentee and live Internet bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com will also be available.

The Survivor collection was started after the series’ third season, when producer Mark Burnett donated props from the show’s taping in Africa to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. The props were sent to auction, where the consignor bought the pieces that formed the core of his collection. He acquired additional items from later charity auctions containing donations of Survivor objects from Burnett, as well as private-treaty sales with people who worked on the show’s production crews.

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Galleries wonder whether Art Basel will draw buyers this year

MIAMI (AP) – If you show it, will they come?

That’s what gallery directors are wondering as they prepare for Art Basel Miami Beach amid a struggling international economy. Over 200 galleries will show their best work and hope for high sales at the annual art fair running from Dec. 4-7, despite an uncertain art market.

Art Basel organizers say the economic downturn sweeping the world is fairly recent and galleries have had to plan their booths at the fair six months ahead of time, so they don’t expect changes to those plans. But galleries are waiting to see how sales will go.

“It’s obviously more of a buyer’s market,” said Marc Spiegler, co-director for the Miami Beach fair and the annual Art Basel held in Switzerland. “I have been talking to a lot of collectors. They feel it’s a better time to buy art.”

Sluggish sales at recent auctions in New York may be a sign that the years where collectors paid exorbitant prices for high art are over. One of the effects of the economy may be more reasonable prices for art, which may attract more serious collectors, who previously wouldn’t or couldn’t pay the huge amounts of cash for artwork.

At the auctions, some work sold for tens of millions of dollars, while others sold lower than presale estimates and many did not sell at all. At the Frieze Art Fair in London in October, auctions of contemporary art at Sotheby’s and Christie’s generated substantially less money than predicted and many works remained unsold.

All this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Art world observers have been predicting a crash since the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis began. Many of the buyers driving the art sales frenzy were hedge fund and private equity millionaires, who were among the first to suffer economic hardship.

But no matter, Spiegler says, gallery owners and directors know how to survive the financial crisis.

“I think most people who run galleries are by nature optimists,” he says. “Most of the people who are running the kinds of galleries we deal with have been through ups and downs of the economy. People will find a way.”

Some say the economy may change the fair’s atmosphere.

It usually “has euphoria and urgency that may not be there this year,” said Ron Warren, director and partner at Mary Boone Gallery in New York. “Maybe this year Miami may be a little more contemplative … thinking about works of art than a buying frenzy.”

Other galleries are using this year as a gauge for the next.

“Next year will be dependent on what happens this year,” said Michael Findlay, director of New York’s Acquavella Galleries.

Findlay, who is bringing 20 pieces for the show including works by artists Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, said he will make the gallery’s participation as strong and as interesting as it is made for any other art fair, but he is not tailoring his selection of art for the fair because of the economy.

But some gallery owners say sales may suffer because buyers may not be willing to spend a lot of money in hard economy times.

“I don’t think it will be the same amount of sales as it was last year,” CRG Gallery owner Carla Chammas says.

If the fall auctions are any indication, Chammas may be right. For the two-week period, Sotheby’s reported taking in a total of $411.5 million, under its low estimate of $688.4 million, and selling 448 lots out of 866. Christie’s reported a total of $374.5 million, below its $686.7 million low estimate. It sold 630 items out of 990.

To safeguard against risk, both houses lowered guarantees – an undisclosed price promised to sellers whether their work sells or not.

Experts said prices were down 25-35 percent overall, but there were some significant sales, including Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist Composition, which sold for $60 million, setting a record for the artist and for any Russian artwork sold at auction.

The Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York refused to comment on the effect the economy may have on sales at the fair. A MoMA spokeswoman said that usually a number of its curators go to Art Basel.

Bonnie Clearwater, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, said she uses the fair to build relationships and to get to know dealers. Even if she wants to buy work, it must be approved by an acquisition committee first, she says.

“I am always interested in understanding art in the larger cultural context. It’s just part of my education and my awareness. Sometimes a show may come out of that,” Clearwater says. The museum has bought work almost every year at the fair.

Meanwhile, Miami-based collector Craig Robins said the financial crisis might be an opportunity for art collectors to be less materialistic. To him, Art Basel is a “social experience” he has attended for the last 10 years.

“I think that universally in just about every facet of the world economy that I can think of at the moment, values are down and transactions are less,” Robins says. “To think that art would be immune from that would probably be unwise.”

Robins is a developer who has assisted in creating Design Miami, which is a design fair that coincides with both the Art Basel fairs in Switzerland and Miami Beach. He says great art will always have value.

“We’ll weed out the less sincere people, the less sincere collectors, and we’ll also probably weed out some of the less sincere artists,” Robins says. “It’s going to be a very hard time in the sense that people are going to suffer, but at the end its going to make us stronger, more judicious, more intensely focused on quality and we’ll probably have a better market because of it.”

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-CS-11-23-08 1912EST

Jackson's International Auctioneers will open their Dec. 2-3 auction with this large painting by 19th century French artist Jacques Wagrez. The oil on canvas, 54 1/2 by 42 inches, is expected to sell for $18,000-$22,000. Image courtesy Jackson International Auctioneers.

European, American fine art, Russian works to sell at Jackson’s Dec. 2-3

Jackson's International Auctioneers will open their Dec. 2-3 auction with this large painting by 19th century French artist Jacques Wagrez. The oil on canvas, 54 1/2 by 42 inches, is expected to sell for $18,000-$22,000. Image courtesy Jackson International Auctioneers.

Jackson’s International Auctioneers will open their Dec. 2-3 auction with this large painting by 19th century French artist Jacques Wagrez. The oil on canvas, 54 1/2 by 42 inches, is expected to sell for $18,000-$22,000. Image courtesy Jackson International Auctioneers.

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Jackson’s International Auctioneers will host a two-day auction Dec. 2-3 featuring important European and American fine art together with significant Russian works. The sale includes items deaccessioned from the Grandview Trust of Pittsburgh together with property from collections and estates from across the nation. The 1,000-lot sale includes 12th century European works, paintings, bronzes, furnishings and Orientalia.

The auction will begin with an excellent offering of fine European paintings. Lot no.1, an oil on canvas by French artist Jacques C. Wagrez (1846-1908) depicting a gathering of beautiful young men and women around a storyteller in a meadow, measures 54 by 42 inches and carries an estimate of $18,000-$22,000. Next to sell will be a genre painting of an interior family scene by Danish artist Johann Julius Exner (1825-1910). The dated 1868 oil on canvas, 20 by 24 inches, is estimated at $10,000-$15,000.

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Chilly economic waters thwart potential sale of AntiqueWeek

KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. – An unpredictable economy has apparently quashed a deal that would have resulted in new ownership of the antiques trade newspaper AntiqueWeek.

AntiqueWeek publisher Richard Lewis told Auction Central News that executives of the publication, which is owned by London-based dmg world media, had received an unsolicited offer to purchase the periodical but that the deal is now officially dead.

“Given the crazy economic times…everyone started panicking,” Lewis said. “This deal was not immune to [that]. The buyer got cold feet.”

Lewis said the offer received several weeks ago was a favorable one, and described the would-be buyer as “a good, reputable business.” However, Lewis said, the buyer wanted to proceed at a reduced price, which dmg world media rejected.

On Oct. 6, 2008, Lewis had advised employees that dmg’s three antiques-related titles produced in the Knightstown plant, as well as a fourth title published on site – the agricultural special interest weekly Farm World – were under offer and expected to be sold. Lewis said at that time that the sale hopefully would be finalized in 30 to 45 days and that he would be staying on as publisher.

At the same meeting, Lewis announced that dmg had already sold its British antiques trade newspaper, the Antiques Trade Gazette, but did not reveal the buyer’s name. In an Oct. 6, 2008 posting, Auction Central News identified the publication’s new owner as a group consisting of four members of ATG‘s senior management: Anne Somers (managing director), Mark Bridge (editor-in-chief), Simon Berti (sales director) and Pablo Luppino (finance director).

Publication of AntiqueWeek will remain “business as usual,” Lewis told ACN, adding, “We’re not actively selling it.”

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Topping the sale at $49,999 was this dark cranberry cut to clear tankard by Dorflinger in the fine no. 99 pattern. Image courtesy Woody Auction.

Dorflinger dark cranberry cut to clear tankard tops $49,000 at Woody Auction

Topping the sale at $49,999 was this dark cranberry cut to clear tankard by Dorflinger in the fine no. 99 pattern. Image courtesy Woody Auction.

Topping the sale at $49,999 was this dark cranberry cut to clear tankard by Dorflinger in the fine no. 99 pattern. Image courtesy Woody Auction.

ST. CHARLES, Mo. – A rare dark cranberry cut to clear tankard by Dorflinger soared to $49,000 at an American Brilliant Cut Glass auction conducted Nov. 15 by Woody Auction. The tankard was cut in the fine no. 99 pattern and boasted a fine embossed vintage silver spout signed Tiffany & Co. with mark “C” for Charles C. Cook, president of Tiffany from 1902-1907.

Woody Auction of Douglass, Kan., conducted the auction, which included the collection of Dr. John Hall, a dedicated collector of ABCG. About 475 lots changed hands in a sale that grossed slightly less than $225,000. No buyer’s premium was charged.

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Made of brass, this signed and dated 47 hanging mobile by Alexander Calder is more than 8 feet wide. It sold for more than $2.4 million at a Sotheby's New York auction Nov. 9, 2005

Going Mobile: Alexander Calder exhibit moves to the Whitney

Made of brass, this signed and dated 47 hanging mobile by Alexander Calder is more than 8 feet wide. It sold for more than $2.4 million at a Sotheby's New York auction Nov. 9, 2005

Made of brass, this signed and dated 47 hanging mobile by Alexander Calder is more than 8 feet wide. It sold for more than $2.4 million at a Sotheby’s New York auction Nov. 9, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) – An art exhibit can be hard to interest children in unless, like the Alexander Calder show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, it’s full of toys, animals, circus paraphernalia and big, moving objects made of wires, rods and balls.

Adults are just as likely to be entertained and enthralled by this kid-friendly show, which traces the development of Calder’s world famous mobiles during seven formative years he spent as a young man in New York and Paris.

The son of two artists, an 11-year-old Calder presented his parents with sculptures of a dog and a duck fashioned out of brass. He graduated in 1919 with a degree in mechanical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. But the young man could not escape his destiny.

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Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History reopens

WASHINGTON (AP) – George and Martha Washington, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and other costumed characters greeted thousands of visitors Friday as the National Museum of American History reopened after a two-year, $85 million renovation.

Former Secretary of State and retired Army Gen. Colin Powell read President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to a crowd of at least 200 people on the museum’s steps before the doors opened.

“It is the 19th of November, 1863,” Powell said after the blare of horns announced the start of the famous speech. “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Powell’s Army uniform hangs in the museum’s gallery on military history.

The museum opens “a new era of education and inspiration,” Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough said. “We aspire to tell the story of America and of Americans to ourselves and to the world.”

The Children’s Chorus of Washington sang the national anthem, the crowd waved small American flags, and many wore red, white and blue top hats.

The museum opened a three-day festival with the firing of a cannon from the era when The Star-Spangled Banner poem was written in 1814. Set to the British tune To Anacreon in Heaven, the poem became the U.S. national anthem.

Inside, visitors found favorite exhibits, such as Kermit the Frog, and a gallery devoted to the American presidency, where President-elect Barack Obama’s picture already has been added to a timeline of presidents. Several people gathered around the small photo to take pictures with their cell phone cameras.

“He’s already on here! It’s exciting,” said Amelia Castelli, 26, who was visiting from Florida and spent several minutes getting the right snapshot of Obama’s picture.

Her goal for the day lay elsewhere.

“What I wanted to see were Dorothy’s ruby red slippers,” Castelli said. “That’s the only thing I really remember from being here years ago.”

Museum officials plan to have costumed historic characters on hand every weekend and daily during the busy summer months. George Washington greeted many children on the opening day, teaching them to bow “as we do in Virginia,” he said, rather than shake hands.

Sometimes called America’s attic, the Smithsonian is a collection of more than one dozen museums, including the National Museum of American History, plus the National Zoo. It resulted from a bequest of Englishman James Smithson, a scientist who died in 1832. His will said, without explanation, that the money should be used to build in Washington “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” He had never been to the United States.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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