Rauschenberg in a personal moment, strolling Florida’s Captiva Beach with his dog, Sapphire, in the early 1990s. Captiva Island provided the perfect refuge for the artist, and it is there that he chose to live out the last period of his life. Photo Courtesy of The Guggenheim Museum, NYC.

Robert Rauschenberg

Austrian bronze mythological fish lamp with natural shell shade, reminiscent of Jugendstil designs – estimate $1,500-$2,000. Image courtesy Morphy Auctions.

Austrian Art Nouveau Lamps

Matko Peckay at home in his workshop in Ossining, N.Y. Phil Mansfield photo.

Matko Peckay Furniture

Lino Tagliapietra in his Murano studio around 1998. Photo by Francesco Barasciutti.

Lino Tagliapietra

Kovels – Antiques & Collecting: Week of Dec. 8, 2008

Rare, unusual, well-made, historic – all of those things add to the monetary value of an antique. They also add to the “enjoyment factor” for an owner who wants to understand history and beauty. Two very unusual and important 19th-century whalebone chairs were sold in November at a Bonhams’ auction in Sydney, Australia.

Few of us realize the importance of whaling in America and elsewhere in the 18th and early-19th centuries. Whales were plentiful. The Dutch, English, Spanish and Americans all had fleets of ships sent to bring back whale products. The whale was harpooned from a small boat, dragged back to the large ship, then skinned and butchered. The blubber was boiled to make whale oil, the preferred fuel of the day. It was used for lighting

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EBay applet failure over weekend puts LiveAuctioneers’ Support Team to the test

NEW YORK (ACNI) – Over the weekend of Dec. 6 and 7, LiveAuctioneers.com’s Support Team specialists were called upon to provide emergency assistance after auctioneers began phoning in to report an eBay Live applet failure. Of the 52 LiveAuctioneers-supported auctions conducted over the weekend through eBay Live, 42 reported having difficulties with the applet – the onscreen window through which bids are transmitted to auction houses in real time.

“The first call came in to our emergency line around 11 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday,” said LiveAuctioneers’ client services manager John Tona. “The calls increased as more and more auctions started up. All of the callers described a slowness on the applet – that it was not responding.”

As auction traffic increased, the applet reduced to being completely unresponsive. “Anytime it’s an applet issue, we know the problem is on eBay’s end,” Tona said. He contacted eBay immediately after receiving the first trouble call and testing the applet to confirm there was a problem.

“Around 11:30 we received a confirmation from eBay that there was, indeed, trouble with their applet,” Tona said. “Initially, it was blamed on the high volume of traffic, but when eBay advised that they would resolve the problem by restarting their servers, we knew traffic volume had not been the cause.”

When the applet’s lack of functionality began to recur on Sunday, Tona again contacted eBay, only to learn that they had mistakenly restarted the front-end servers the day before. “In actuality they should have restarted the back-end servers. Once they restarted the correct servers, everything worked fine.”

The applet problem affected auctions intermittently for approximately two hours on Saturday and five hours on Sunday. “Auctioneers were frustrated, and some were angry, but they realized it was not LiveAuctioneers’ fault. We were trying to help them and had four Support Team members working ’round the clock to monitor the situation and keep auctioneers informed. One of the members stayed in constant contact with eBay.”

Many auction house representatives praised the assistance they received from LiveAuctioneers. Michael Whelchel, IT director for the Charleston, S.C., auction house Estate Road Show, said he gives “high marks to LiveAuctioneers. In the middle of this mess, they continued to answer the phone and help as much as they could, even though there was nothing they could do about it. If they didn’t answer the phone immediately, they’d call back within two minutes. Any other company would have given up. We know from this experience that we’ll be using LiveAuctioneers in the future … Of course, eBay Live was not answering their phone.”

Estate Road Show’s auction of fine and costume jewelry from the estate of the late Connecticut antiques dealer Louise Mondani Graham was halted when it became clear that Internet bids were not coming through properly. The rescheduled sale will take place on Sunday, Dec. 14, with an announcement of details soon to appear on the auction company’s Web site: www.estateroadshow.com.

Gulfcoast Coin & Jewelry of Ft. Myers, Fla., similarly canceled its major auction of high-end coins after a problem was detected. “Only nine or 10 items had sold through the Internet, which was unusual, and when we saw that there was only one bidder online for the types of important coins that were in this sale, we knew something had gone wrong,” said Barbara Mehringer, who handles all Internet transactions for Gulfcoast. “We had a call from France this morning from a person who was very upset that he had not been able to bid …We plan to relist the entire auction, intact, for next Sunday, the 14th.” Mehringer said that in spite of the frustration and disappointment they experienced, Gulfcoast was very pleased with the support they received from LiveAuctioneers.

Skinner’s live auctions specialist, Nicole Nicas-Rovner, said their auctions of Fine Oriental Rugs & Carpets don’t garner the same level of Internet participation as their other sales, but that it was “still a disappointment” when the applet froze during their Dec. 6 Rugs event. Nicas-Rovner suspected it was a traffic-related problem.

“(An applet freeze-up) almost never happens to us,” she said, “but earlier in the day I remember thinking it was unusual that so many sales were going on at the same time. Our sale started at noon, but our catalog listing didn’t show up till the second page of auctions on eBay because there were so many starting earlier that morning. The second time the applet locked up, I knew it was an online system problem. We called LiveAuctioneers, and they were very attentive. They always are.”

It wasn’t just auction houses that were upset about the applet situation. John Tona said LiveAuctioneers also received more than 1,000 phone calls over the weekend from disgruntled bidders. “Auction houses were directing them to us, which was perfectly appropriate, since the auctioneers didn’t know how to respond to their questions,” he said.

Tona said LiveAuctioneers anticipates receiving an official response from eBay soon that will pinpoint the cause of the applet malfunction. In the meantime, eBay is crediting back the catalog setup fees paid by all 42 auction houses that experienced a problem.

Julian R. Ellison, CEO of LiveAuctioneers, commended his team for the way in which they responded to the applet meltdown. “We have always prided ourselves in the level of customer service we deliver,” Ellison said. “During this unfortunate event, whose cause and remedy were beyond our control, we showed auctioneers that it’s not just hollow words when we say we care about their success and will support them 100 percent. After the 1st of January, LiveAuctioneers will implement its own state-of-the-art platform. There won’t be any more eBay Live. From that point forward, any problems that might arise will be immediately identifiable in-house, and it will be our team – not a remote company – that is responsible for rectifying them. We are absolutely ready for that responsibility and know that auction houses will be very happy with the prompt service they receive.”

Ellison added that this week’s edition of the LiveAuctioneers e-newsletter – which is sent out free to opt-in recipients every Wednesday – will include links to the electronic catalogs for all rescheduled auctions, as well as newly listed auctions. To subscribe, log on to https://www.liveauctioneers.com/news/newsletter.html.

Copyright 2008 Auction Central News International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Jasper Johns (b. 1930-), untitled lithograph, 1980. Sold May 21, 2008 for $28,000 (hammer). Courtesy Phillips de Pury, LiveAuctioneers.com Archive.

MOMA shows off: new exhibition features 13 works on paper by Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns (b. 1930-), untitled lithograph, 1980. Sold May 21, 2008 for $28,000 (hammer). Courtesy Phillips de Pury, LiveAuctioneers.com Archive.

Jasper Johns (b. 1930-), untitled lithograph, 1980. Sold May 21, 2008 for $28,000 (hammer). Courtesy Phillips de Pury, LiveAuctioneers.com Archive.

NEW YORK (AP) – The Museum of Modern Art has mounted a new Jasper Johns show that makes the case for the artist as recycler.

The occasion for the show, which opened Friday, is the museum’s recent acquisition of a series of 13 works on paper by the great American artist best known for his iconic flag paintings.

The survey draws on MoMA’s extensive collection of Johns’ art to explore the way he reused and re-imagined themes and patterns again and again over his long and prolific career.

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Julian Ellison, CEO, LiveAuctioneers.com. Image courtesy Fox News.

VIDEO: LiveAuctioneers.com CEO discusses collectibles on Fox News Strategy Room

Julian Ellison, CEO, LiveAuctioneers.com. Image courtesy Fox News.

Julian Ellison, CEO, LiveAuctioneers.com. Image courtesy Fox News.

The business and financial sector is paying close attention to the dynamic prospects for Internet live bidding in 2009. On Wednesday, Dec. 3, LiveAuctioneers’ CEO, Julian Ellison, was a special guest on Fox News’ Strategy Room Lite Lunch with Jill Dobson.

Julian talked about LiveAuctioneers.com to Jill and a panel of commentators, and spoke with particular interest about the strength of celebrity and entertainment memorabilia in the marketplace. As an example, he mentioned the Beatles’ first signed contract with manager Brian Epstein, which sold online last weekend through LiveAuctioneers for $211,597.

Julian also tipped the unique Hollywood memorabilia – including the actual Star Wars lightsaber used by Mark Hamill in his role as Luke Skywalker – soon to be auctioned through LiveAuctioneers. The iconic prop is estimated at $150,000-$180,000.

Click here to watch the Fox News segment.

On Monday, December 8, Ellison will appear on ABC News Now at noon Eastern, as well.

Rorstand, a Swedish firm started in 1726, made this 45-inch-tall majolica pedestal with four women's faces and other decorations. It was new in 1893 at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. James D. Julia Auctions got $4,025 for it this year.

Kovels – Antiques & Collecting: Week of Dec. 1, 2008

Rorstand, a Swedish firm started in 1726, made this 45-inch-tall majolica pedestal with four women's faces and other decorations. It was new in 1893 at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. James D. Julia Auctions got $4,025 for it this year.

Rorstand, a Swedish firm started in 1726, made this 45-inch-tall majolica pedestal with four women’s faces and other decorations. It was new in 1893 at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. James D. Julia Auctions got $4,025 for it this year.

Majolica was made in many countries, the United States, England, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Sweden.

The word majolica has two meanings to collectors. The first of the tin-glazed pottery known as majolica was made in Spain, then Italy in the 15th century. That type of pottery was popular until the 18th century. Today it can be seen in museums.

In 1851, Minton made a slightly different kind of tin-glazed pottery, or majolica, that they displayed at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. It became popular almost immediately. The earlier majolica had designs that looked as if they had been painted on; the new majolica was more three dimensional. Dishes were shaped like realistic leaves, food-serving dishes with raised strawberries or bunches of asparagus looked real, oyster plates had molded oyster shells to hold the crustaceans, sardine boxes featured lifelike sardines on the cover, and even large pedestals were covered with molded designs of flowers and birds, or resembled tree trunks surrounded by storks.

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Collector sues City of LA over enforcement of secondhand dealers ordinance

LOS ANGELES (ACNI) – All Richard Hopp says he wants to do is to collect and read books. Yet when he sets up at swap meets and advertises to buy books, enforcement officers of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pawn Section unit warn him he needs a secondhand dealers permit. Tired of trying to convince them he is a collector and not a dealer doing business, Hopp has filed suit against the city.

In the civil suit filed Nov. 13 in Los Angeles Superior Court, Hopp is seeking a judgment declaring he is not a secondhand book dealer or secondhand seller. The suit also challenges the validity of the city ordinances regulating secondhand book dealers and secondhand sellers.

“According to Los Angeles Municipal Code, I am not subject or required to obtain or maintain a secondhand dealers permit. I’m not required because the biggest issue is the definition of the word business. I’m not a business,” said Hopp. “How can I be a business when I don’t sell anything.”

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