Winterthur to close for five weeks

WINTERTHUR, Del. (AP) – The museum at the Winterthur will closed for February and part of March to save money.

Spokeswoman Vicki Saltzman says it’s the museum’s slowest time of year and the museum has also shifted to more seasonal programming. She says the board and management decided to close for five week to save on energy bills and allow maintenance and repair work.

The closure from Feb. 1 to March 8 doesn’t include any furloughs or layoffs. Researchers and Winterthur members will still be able to use the gardens and library but the visitor center will close.

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Information from: The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal, http://www.delawareonline.com

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-10-01-09 0900EDT

A pair of 17th-century Italian baroque columns with 19th and 20th century objects at Laurent Rebuffel's Habite in Los Angeles, 145 North La Brea Avenue, Unit D. Rebuffel is closing his San Francisco store and moving his entire operation to the Los Angeles venue. Image courtesy of Habite.

Two revered San Francisco antique shops close – ACN asks why

A pair of 17th-century Italian baroque columns with 19th and 20th century objects at Laurent Rebuffel's Habite in Los Angeles, 145 North La Brea Avenue, Unit D. Rebuffel is closing his San Francisco store and moving his entire operation to the Los Angeles venue. Image courtesy of Habite.

A pair of 17th-century Italian baroque columns with 19th and 20th century objects at Laurent Rebuffel’s Habite in Los Angeles, 145 North La Brea Avenue, Unit D. Rebuffel is closing his San Francisco store and moving his entire operation to the Los Angeles venue. Image courtesy of Habite.

SAN FRANCISCO (ACNI) – Recently I heard about two San Francisco shops going out of business, Swallowtail and Habité. Although the types of articles they sold were dissimilar, both were beloved by the design community and retail customers, and each will leave a hole in the fabric of San Francisco’s material culture. I spoke to the respective owners to find out what happened.

Swallowtail

Sheri Sheridan started Swallowtail, on Polk Street in upscale Pacific Heights, about 14 years ago. She also had a shop on Haight Street, and for two years she ran both of them, eventually closing the original and focusing on the newer location. (From 2003-2007 she had a shop in Oakland as well, also called Swallowtail.) The Polk Street shop was a pretty space with soaring ceilings and a skylight. It even had a sort of tiny backyard where Sheridan would showcase garden statuary, birdcages – outdoor stuff.

Sheridan, who also has a design firm specializing in restaurants, has an astute eye. Shoppers fell in love with her mixture of good 18th- and 19th-century antiques, taxidermy, found art, mid-century pieces, and contemporary paintings.

The window display was always arresting. I remember a pair of traditional Louis IV-ish fauteuils upholstered in a bold Stephen Sprouse grafitti print that appeared right around the time of Sprouse’s death (in tribute to the fashion designer). Another time there was an enormous and superbly carved wood coat, that on closer inspection, turned out to be a cabinet whose doors opened like the front of the garment. Sometimes you’d see crusty religious artifacts or scientific equipment juxtaposed with, say, a smooth French modernist table and chairs. Always surprising, always fresh, sometimes very beautiful.

The store attracted a varied clientele, too – art students, neighborhood walkers, interior designers and the odd celebrity. My husband recalls an evening a few years back when the store was off limits to the public because Sharon Stone was having a look (during her short reign as San Francisco Chronicle publisher Phil Bronstein’s wife.) According to Sheridan, the author Danielle Steele once said in print that Swallowtail was her favorite shop.

So, what happened? Sheridan describes a confluence of factors that caused the store’s demise. “In 2005, I lost a substantial amount of money, about $80,000, to an employee who embezzled from me. I went into debt as a result. Still, the store was doing well, and I could probably have risen above this setback, but when the economy tanked last year, I couldn’t recoup. I let go the bookkeeper and all the employees, lowering my monthly expenses from about $30,000 to $20,000 but I just couldn’t keep accommodating the losses. One Sunday last month I was alone in the store and I got a discouraging phone call. As I hung up I had an epiphany: ‘I don’t have to do this any more, and today I am closing Swallowtail.’ And that was that. I think I was trying to keep the store going for my customers who loved it. And I loved it, too.”

“I started the shop when I was so young. Swallowtail gave me confidence,” Sheridan continued. “I’m a designer because of Swallowtail. I own a house, I’ve gotten great press, met great people. Over the years, so many amazing things happened in and around the store. I have heard from so many clients since word got around that I would be closing. Flowers and cards appeared on the doorstep. The response has been incredible. People really felt personally connected to Swallowtail.”

Laurent Rebuffel’s Habité

Laurent Rebuffel has been in the antiques business his whole life. He worked for his family antiques shop in Lyons, France, before moving to San Francisco in 1994 and starting his own company in 1996. Habité, his flagship store on Harrison Street south of Market, specialized in high-quality French country and Continental furniture from the 17th to 19th centuries that Laurent imports himself. The rustic warehouse-like space was filled with beautiful cabinets, bergères, screens, fireplace surrounds and other architectural details, tables, tapestries and chandeliers. For a few years, Rebuffel, with his former wife Carolyn, had an elegant shop in Jackson Square in addition to Habité. It closed in 2004.

In a city filled with fine antiques businesses, the Rebuffels’ shops stood out. The presentation was lovely, the furniture and objects were of fine quality, and the selection sometimes vast. But I remember being impressed by the casual and friendly atmosphere created by Rebuffel and his right hand – ‘the other Laurent’ – Laurent Martini. Rebuffel has a low-key warmth that makes you feel no question is stupid, and that there’s plenty of time for the answers. He’s accommodating of clients’ needs, generous with information. The same is true of Martini.

When I heard the store was closing, my heart sank. Another beautiful resource lost to San Francisco. I had been meaning to stop in for weeks, to say hello and see what was new, but had not found the time.

“I’m not going out of business, just relocating to Los Angeles, where we’ve had a space for about a year and a half,” said Rebuffel. The shop (with about 3,500 square feet of floor space) on La Brea at Beverly is also called Habité.

“It came down to a choice between two cities, each with its own pros and cons. In the end, personal reasons tipped the balance,” said Rebuffel, who finds Los Angeles to be reminiscent of his native South of France. But there were other factors at work.

“San Francisco has a strong design community and we have a loyal clientele here,” he said, “but in some ways the business climate never fully recovered from the dot-com bust at the beginning of the century.”

That local trend, along with the rise of the Euro, created a tough environment for the high-end antiques market, according to Rebuffel. “People did not realize how difficult it was to keep importing antiques from Europe while trying to keep prices from rising,” he said.

Laurent also cites the increasing difficulty of finding good material to sell. “It’s a diminishing resource. There’s a limited supply,” he said, “so keeping two stores well stocked became more and more difficult. Then, in the fall of 2008 we saw a big drop-off in sales. This move has been years in the making.”

Rebuffel feels the market in Los Angeles is large and growing, and the entertainment industry, though not immune to the vagaries of the recent global economic crisis, is relatively strong. Asked if he feels it’s a buying populace more willing and able to pay higher prices, he responds, “No, it’s simply a question of volume. It’s a bigger market, not necessarily a more affluent one.”

There’s another component to Rebuffel’s decision to move. “I think I had painted myself into a corner a bit, in terms of what I presented in the shop,” he said. “Somehow I feel I can reinvent myself creatively in a way with this move. I’ll be selling a fuller spectrum of objects, now including 20th-century periods, which have always been within my interests but which, for whatever reason, I didn’t feel as free to include in San Francisco.”

Rebuffel mentioned several San Francisco shops he admires, which locals may want to investigate: Coup D’Etat, and March, and more traditional shops like Dan Stein and Foster Gwin.

In Conclusion

Laurent Rebuffel sounds rueful when for advice to a young person entering this field now. “The best dealers have a passion that drives them…they never stop asking questions, never stop studying and learning. That’s what makes them able to discern ‘the real thing’ when they see it, and that can be anything from a $100 object to a million dollar painting. This business will not make you rich, it’s something you have to have a passion for.”

As for Sheri Sheridan, she has a sense of optimism about future creative endeavors, even as she prepares to formally mourn the passing of her shop (“I’m having a funeral for the business, I’ll invite you!”). Her design company, also called Swallowtail, has projects in the works, including restaurants Brown Sugar Kitchen and Roux 66.

I believe that retail shops like Swallowtail and Habité bring something important to a city, in the same way that the ballet, the symphony and museums do. But most of us don’t think in terms of supporting them as we do those institutions. “People would always tell me ‘I can’t afford to shop in your store, but I get so much inspiration from coming in here,’ ” said Sheridan. “I truly loved hearing that, but it didn’t pay the bills, you know?”

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Important portrait-type carved-wood doll, Germany, circa 1820, 39 inches. Richard Wright is believed to have acquired the doll via private treaty sale through Sotheby's London in the 1980s. Undocumented anecdotal history purports that the doll was commissioned by a member of the Dutch Royal Family. Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.

Skinner presents Richard Wright doll, toy collection Oct. 10

Important portrait-type carved-wood doll, Germany, circa 1820, 39 inches. Richard Wright is believed to have acquired the doll via private treaty sale through Sotheby's London in the 1980s. Undocumented anecdotal history purports that the doll was commissioned by a member of the Dutch Royal Family. Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.

Important portrait-type carved-wood doll, Germany, circa 1820, 39 inches. Richard Wright is believed to have acquired the doll via private treaty sale through Sotheby’s London in the 1980s. Undocumented anecdotal history purports that the doll was commissioned by a member of the Dutch Royal Family. Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (ACNI) – Those who knew the late Richard Wright remember him as a free-spirited visionary who helped shape the international doll-collecting community as we know it today. His charismatic personality and unerring eye for quality made him a popular fixture at doll shows, conventions and other gatherings. But as famous as he was – including to mainstream America from his appraisal appearances on PBS Television’s Antiques Roadshow – Wright was still a collector at heart. And while relatively few had the privilege of visiting the lifelong collection of antique dolls displayed at his charming stone-and-beam country home in Chester Springs, Pa., there will soon be an opportunity for everyone to see and bid on the dolls that captured the eye, heart and soul of Richard Wright.

On Oct. 10, 2009, Skinner Inc. will auction Wright’s entire personal collection of dolls, teddy bears and miniatures, with Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com. A dream team has been working diligently over the summer to produce the event that will add the final chapter to Richard Wright’s legacy [Wright died on March 1, 2009]. The sale’s three main architects are Skinner Vice President Stuart Whitehurst and consulting specialists Becky and Andy Ourant. Both Stuart and Andy were Richard’s fellow Antiques Roadshow appraisers; the Ourants were Richard’s closest friends, and the natural choice to supervise the sale of his collections.

Andy Ourant described Wright’s doll, toy and teddy collection as “very personal – a reflection of his own life and the profession he chose. Richard’s parents were antique dealers. He started collecting dolls as a boy, and his collection includes dolls he inherited from his mother’s collection as well as those he purchased for himself.’

“Richard liked esoteric things, but he was also a sentimental guy. If he bought a collection from someone he had known for a long time, he would keep something unusual from the collection as a remembrance,” Andy said. “He liked for everything to be original, in great condition and with great clothes. He sold probably more than anyone else in the doll world and was in a unique position to cream off what he thought were the very best pieces.”

Yet in spite of the emphasis Richard placed on quality, Andy says it wasn’t all about the high end. “Richard owned great examples from all different levels of buying. He was not a snob about collecting. He was a man for all dolls, whether they were worth hundreds or thousands, but no matter what level of doll, he would buy the very best example.”

The basic categories comprising the 450-lot auction are: 18th-century English and German wooden dolls, 19th-century wooden dolls, and papier-mâché, glazed porcelain (china), bisque, and cloth dolls. Additionally, there is an outstanding group of turn of the 20th-century German character dolls, plus teddy bears, doll clothing and accessories; miniature doll furniture, porcelain figurines, toys and candy containers.

Becky Ourant said that, in her opinion, a top highlight of the collection is the assortment of rare 18th-century wooden dolls, led by a large English Queen Anne doll in all-original clothing that took pride of place in an arch-top showcase in Richard’s home. The doll has a round, turned-wood head and body that were created as one piece, with gesso applied over the wood. It features a carved-in triangular nose, applied glass eyes with an “intense gaze,” and rosy cheeks on pale skin. “It is quite an important doll because it represents the foundation of modern doll production,” Becky said. “It would have been an extravagant gift for a child to receive in the 18th century, and it was definitely a special doll to Richard. He even featured it in the logo on his shopping bags.”

Displayed below the Queen Anne doll in Richard’s home was another 18th-century wooden that was written about extensively by doll historian John Noble. The child who originally owned the doll apparently died at a young age, based on the family history that is written on the doll’s dress in ink. Becky surmises that the rare “memorial doll” might have been of Continental manufacture.

Two German dolls were singled out for special attention within the 18th-century woodens. “We cannot confirm it, but reportedly one of them was made for the Dutch Royal Family,” said Andy. “It’s 34 inches tall with a jointed body and features fantastic carving, with a removable carved-wood hair comb. It’s painted very differently than ‘play dolls’ of that period – it’s more of a portrait doll.” The second highlight in this category is a large, carved-wood German doll with pierced ears and a period wardrobe. “This is an unusual doll,” Andy said. “Even the bodice is carved into the wood, and it has distinctive human features. From this improved carving, you can see the development that was taking place at that time in doll making. That’s something that visitors who knew dolls would notice immediately in viewing Richard’s collection. Its contents document how doll production evolved over the centuries.” A large number of desirable Grodner Tals, including dollhouse-size dolls, rounds out the wooden section and takes the group into the 19th century.

The period from the 1820s through 1850s is well documented in Richard’s collection by German papier-mâché dolls. “Again, you can see the changes in hairdos and the production methods that were in use at the time,” Andy said. “They have interesting hairdos – coronet braids, Apollo knots, large buns and fancy Queen Victoria styles. Some have painted eyes, while others, which are quite rare, are glass-eyed.” Among the highlights in the group are many gentlemen dolls with molded hats of various styles. “They’re the types of dolls that you just never see in all-original condition,” Andy observed.

The charm factor goes off the charts with Richard’s American Kris Kringle child doll, which has a German papier-mâché head on a homemade cloth body. The doll’s colorful costume is covered with more than 50 sewn-on miniature Christmas toys and novelties similar to what one would find in Victorian Christmas crackers – whistles, a carved bird, trains, boats, a clock, an American Flag and many other small-scale playthings. It comes with extraordinary provenance – a handwritten letter to the doll’s original owner from her aunt, sending Christmas cheer and love, and signed with the date 1852. “Richard obtained this doll from a New England collection,” said Andy. “He sold it, and many years later, he re-bought it. During the time it was out of his hands, it even passed through the famous Tom Anderson collection.”

Another significant class of dolls in the Wright collection is the German chinas made during the period of 1840-1870. Among the manufacturers represented are Meissen, Schlaggenwald, Kestner and Kister. Others were made by KPM. “Of the KPMs, there are both gentlemen and ladies,” said Andy. “Some have a double KPM mark, which means KPM did the whole production. Others have a single KPM mark. This means that after the firing, KPM would send the doll to an outside decorator, who would add their own mark. All of them are highly sought-after dolls.”

With a few notable exceptions, including a Bru fashion doll and a portrait Jumeau, most of Richard’s finest 20th-century bisque dolls were characters – a few ladies but mostly children. “This was a market that he fostered throughout his life,” said Becky. “He had a Kammer & Reinhart 107 [a k a “Carl”] and wonderful examples of a 109, 114, 112 and 101. He also had superior Heubachs, Kestners – including a 208 – Simon & Halbig 151s, and a flirty-eyed 1388 whose image he used on his Antiques Roadshow business card.”

As the demand for early American cloth dolls continues to escalate, conversely fewer truly fine examples are appearing at auction. For this reason, Becky believes there will be tremendous interest in the three Izannah Walkers in Richard’s collection. “These are great representations of American folk art and 19th-century painting,” she said. “In his collection, Richard had the iconic Izannah Walker doll with sausage curls by the ears, a second doll with a curl painted across the nape of the neck, and a third one with smaller, more distinctive eyes and more-realistic features.” There are two groups of Martha Chase cloth dolls: a magnificent 4-piece Alice in Wonderland set featuring Alice, the Frog Footman, the Duchess and the Mad Hatter, which will be sold as one group; and a 1920s set of characters from Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers, which will be offered individually.

For those who would revel in decorating a house from scratch, Andy recommends Richard’s 18th-century Georgian baby house. A beautiful three-story, 9-room residence, it features three opening doors and original appointments, including fireplaces. “What’s especially nice about this house is its proportions. Sometimes baby houses are giant. This one is a nice size. It accommodates dolls that are of inch-to-foot scale.” The auction inventory also includes an outstanding group of dollhouse gentlemen dolls and an ample array of miniatures by manufacturers such as Walterhausen and Schneegas. The Wright collection also includes many bisque figurines.

A small but select group of teddies is highlighted by a golden Steiff Petsy with tipped mohair fur and blue glass eyes. “Richard was one of the founding fathers of the bear market in the 1980s,” said Becky. “He even made the Associated Press news wire when he paid a world-record price for a Steiff bear in England. In the course of his career he had every bear you could imagine. He loved them and sold them, but he wasn’t an avid collector. The auction contains about 6 or 7 bears. Collectors would be proud to own any one of them.”

The Wright collection presents an ideal opportunity for collectors on the hunt for original doll clothing and accessories. “Richard always kept nice clothing and extra shoes and accessories on hand so he could replace missing items when he bought a doll,” Becky said. “He kept these items for his own dolls and never offered them for sale. In the auction we will have around 40 lots of doll clothing and accessories from this private selection.”

Several European pull toys are entered in the sale, as is a highly unusual miniature American tin runner sled of approximately 8 to 9 inches in length. Its hand-painted motif includes an American Flag and the Capitol Rotunda, emblazoned with the slogan “Our Country.”

In order to showcase the Wright dolls and toys in a manner that befits such an important collection, Skinner Inc. will be hosting a 7 p.m. gallery walk and wine and cheese party immediately following the preview on Friday, Oct. 9, 2009. Three specialists – Becky and Andy Ourant, and Nancy Smith – will lead the gallery walk.

“This will be a very informal evening and will be open to anyone who wishes to attend. We want the doll community to feel welcome and to enjoy our wonderful new gallery,” said Skinner Vice President Stuart Whitehurst, who is not only coordinating the sale of Richard Wright’s collections but also will be sharing the auctioneering duties with Andy Ourant.

“Skinner’s auctions have a structured format, but the gallery walk will allow everyone to become more intimate with Richard’s collection,” Whitehurst said. “Becky and Andy have such a broad knowledge and know so much about Richard’s collection that we felt their knowledge should be shared in some sort of open forum. We decided we should host an event that had the same interactive atmosphere as, perhaps, a town hall meeting. During the gallery walk, everyone will be able to walk around with Andy, Becky and Nancy, view the collection up close, and take part in an open dialogue about the dolls. We think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

In summarizing the importance of the Richard Wright collections [Skinner will also auction Wright’s world-class collection of decorative art and furniture on Oct. 24, 2009 in Boston, with Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com], Whitehurst stated: “Of course we were absolutely thrilled to learn that Richard’s dolls and other collections would be coming to Skinner. The phrase ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ gets overused, but when you have a collection like this one, which took a whole lifetime to produce, its sale can only be described as ‘once in a lifetime.'”

For questions regarding any item in the sale, tel. 508-970-3130 or e-mail wrightcollection@skinnerinc.com. View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

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Click here to view Skinner’s complete catalog.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Circa-1840 German papier-mache lady doll, 33 inches, provenance: Estate of Maurine S. Popp. Estimate $10,000-$15,000. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.

Circa-1840 German papier-mache lady doll, 33 inches, provenance: Estate of Maurine S. Popp. Estimate $10,000-$15,000. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.


Portrait Jumeau bebe, so called 'Elizabeth' doll, circa-1880, France, 23 inches, pressed-bisque socket head, fully jointed composition body marked Jumeau, Au Nain Blue store label, original signed E. Jumeau brown leather shoes. Estimate $10,000-12,000. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.

Portrait Jumeau bebe, so called ‘Elizabeth’ doll, circa-1880, France, 23 inches, pressed-bisque socket head, fully jointed composition body marked Jumeau, Au Nain Blue store label, original signed E. Jumeau brown leather shoes. Estimate $10,000-12,000. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.


Kammer & Reinhardt 107 Carl character boy, Germany, circa 1910, bisque socket head incised K*R 107/55, brown painted eyes, fully jointed composition body, 22 inches. Estimate $20,000-$30,000. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.

Kammer & Reinhardt 107 Carl character boy, Germany, circa 1910, bisque socket head incised K*R 107/55, brown painted eyes, fully jointed composition body, 22 inches. Estimate $20,000-$30,000. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.


Izannah Walker oil-painted on stockinette cloth doll, Rhode Island, circa 1860, 18 inches. Estimate $15,000-18,000. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.

Izannah Walker oil-painted on stockinette cloth doll, Rhode Island, circa 1860, 18 inches. Estimate $15,000-18,000. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.


Circa-1852 Kris Kringle doll, Germany, papier-mache shoulder head with molded and painted features, wears wool plaid costume with blue fur trim, paper-covered muslin cone-shaped hat with black fur and paper Christmas die-cut dated 1852, the body covered with approximately 55 period playthings. Height 22 inches. Accompanied by handwritten note reading: “Kris Kringle sends greeting through Cousin Anna to the children, and wishes them a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year - Christmas Eve 1852.” Estimate $6,000-$8,000.

Circa-1852 Kris Kringle doll, Germany, papier-mache shoulder head with molded and painted features, wears wool plaid costume with blue fur trim, paper-covered muslin cone-shaped hat with black fur and paper Christmas die-cut dated 1852, the body covered with approximately 55 period playthings. Height 22 inches. Accompanied by handwritten note reading: “Kris Kringle sends greeting through Cousin Anna to the children, and wishes them a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year – Christmas Eve 1852.” Estimate $6,000-$8,000.


Circa-1720 Queen Anne lady doll, England, 25 inches tall, gessoed and painted carved-wood head, wood torso with mortise and tenon jointed wood arms and legs. Presented in mahogany and walnut veneered display case. Estimate $50,000-$70,000. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.

Circa-1720 Queen Anne lady doll, England, 25 inches tall, gessoed and painted carved-wood head, wood torso with mortise and tenon jointed wood arms and legs. Presented in mahogany and walnut veneered display case. Estimate $50,000-$70,000. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.

Fernando Botero (Colombian, b. 1932-), Still Life [with Mandolin], signed and dated ’57 at lower right, oil on canvas, 26½ inches by 47¾ inches. Galeria Antonio Souza label on verso. Estimate $80,000-$120,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

Collection of designer David Barrett in Tepper auction, Oct. 8 and 10

Fernando Botero (Colombian, b. 1932-), Still Life [with Mandolin], signed and dated ’57 at lower right, oil on canvas, 26½ inches by 47¾ inches. Galeria Antonio Souza label on verso. Estimate $80,000-$120,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

Fernando Botero (Colombian, b. 1932-), Still Life [with Mandolin], signed and dated ’57 at lower right, oil on canvas, 26½ inches by 47¾ inches. Galeria Antonio Souza label on verso. Estimate $80,000-$120,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

NEW YORK (ACNI) – Exquisitely original and possessing an unerring ability to mix uptown chic with exotic street market finds, the late David Barrett lived by the very same principles that guided the interior designs he created for his well-heeled clients. Each room should reflect the owner’s personality in some way, and there should always be an element of excitement incorporated into the décor, Barrett believed. He knew of what he spoke. One of New York’s most in-demand decorators, Barrett rose to the top of his field, even serving as president of the American Society of Interior Decorators.

Like the well-pedigreed antiques he owned and the innumerable furnishings and decorative objects he designed from inspiration pieces spotted in his world travels, Barrett’s legacy is destined to endure – tastefully and opulently – as long as there are smart city residences and rambling country homes in need of a style infusion.

The extraordinary Upper East Side townhouse where Barrett resided for 40 years was one grand domicile. Purchased in the late 1960s from another trend-setting interior designer, Elsie de Woolfe, Barrett’s residence on East 71st Street was a fantasyland of chinoiserie and trompe l’oeil – crystal chandeliers above life-size 18th/19th-century Chinese figures, an “opium bed” guarded by carved monkeys, a birdcage inspired by a Russian church, early Botero paintings – all coexisting in the most civilized way.

After his death in 2008, the phenomenal contents of Barrett’s house sat quietly and largely undiscussed in antiques circles. Then came the announcement. The entire collection, as well as the massive inventory of articles Barrett had purchased and stored away with particular clients and projects in mind, was to be sold by New York City’s oldest auction house, Tepper Galleries, in two sessions, on Oct. 8 and 10.

Details soon followed: The better items would be sold in the first session; additional items from the townhouse and contents from several of Barrett’s warehouses in Lower Manhattan would be auctioned in the second session.

To give the sale global exposure, Tepper’s CEO, Adam Hutter, chose to include Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com during the Oct. 8 session. The event is already garnering international attention, not only from the design community and New York’s Social Register, but also from those individuals with more taste than money who recognize exquisite antiques and great design, and want the “Barrett touch” for their own homes.

Adam Hutter and Tepper Galleries’ coordinator of special sales, Tiffany Dubin, spoke with Auction Central News about highlights from the upcoming sale and why the David Barrett name is so highly revered.

“There are so many exciting things in this collection,” said Hutter. “David Barrett’s collection of Fernando Botero paintings includes three that came from the first Botero exhibit held outside of Colombia, in Mexico City in 1958. Apparently the exhibit bombed, but Barrett went there and bought up the entire exhibit and kept them. Over the years he sold some of the art to Botero’s daughter and lent some to the Hirshhorn (Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Smithsonian). We have some of the old museum catalogs. Botero speaks of some of Barrett’s paintings in his writings.”

Hutter described the magnificent 19th-century bed in Barrett’s bedroom as “an opium bed a la Doris Duke. David spent a lot of time in Tangiers with Doris Duke and Barbara Hutton during an era when people explored the East and brought things back to mix into their homes in New York and California. David’s bed is decorated with monkeys that sit on top of it. He would invite his closest friends to sit on it. It’s incredible, unlike anything else I’ve seen.”

Dubin described a suite of shell-back grotto furniture designed by Barrett as being “just spectacular. He spent a lot of time in Italy in the 1970s, which is obviously where the inspiration came from. The silvered and gilded chairs have shell-carved backs and feet, with shells on the side and dolphin arms. They’re extremely striking and will be offered in pairs and in lots of four.”

The grotto furniture typifies Barrett’s ability to reinterpret articles from other cultures to suit the American design sensibility. “He was a master,” said Hutter. “He would buy something in his travels that served as the original concept, then he would find the best artisans and re-create a version of the concept under the David Barrett name. For instance, he would go to Syria and buy a table, then he would adapt the idea and create his own design to suit his client’s Fifth Avenue apartment. Quite often the David Barrett piece would be a more interesting creation than the original.”

Session II, whose emphasis is on the general inventory from Barrett’s warehouses, will offer an embarrassment of riches to the trade. “David was a packrat. He had two full warehouses he was going to use in decorator show houses. He was creating interiors for show houses until the very end of his life,” Hutter said. “He had a Park Avenue showroom – which is now used by Rolls-Royce – but he did a lot of business directly out of the warehouses. We understand that many people who bought from him at the warehouses will be coming to the sale.”

Adam Hutter is quite understandably overjoyed that his company was chosen over all other competitors to auction the David Barrett collection. Hutter believes the selection of Tepper Galleries may have been influenced by the company’s willingness to manage and sell the estate’s contents in their entirety.

“Big houses only want to cherrypick. We’ll do the whole thing, and creatively. We’re hungrier and will spend lot of time and energy on preparing a sale,” Hutter said. “Give us your Botero and we’ll also take your chair frames…We’re a sort of country auction house, but in New York City.”

Asked if there was any truth to the rumor that the collection had come to them through a tip from a truck driver, Hutter laughed and answered cryptically, “We like to keep all of our connections, high and low. My father, the late Ira Hutter, and the late Sidney Drazen, who were co-owners of Tepper Galleries, used to go up and down Park Avenue, talking to the doormen to find out who was moving out.”

Tepper Galleries has created a replica of David Barrett’s townhouse on three floors of its premises on East 25th Street. The furnishings, artworks and decorative objects have been arranged as closely as possible to the way they were positioned in the late designers’ residence. Faithful to Barrett’s credo, the motif as interpreted by Tepper associates blends “high style with whimsey.”

For information regarding any lot in the auction of the David Barrett collection, call Tepper Galleries at 212-677-5300.View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet during the Oct. 8 session of Tepper Galleries’ auction of the David Barrett Collection at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

Copyright 2009 Auction Central News International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

 

 

Click here to view Tepper Galleries Inc.’s complete catalog.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Andre Brasilier (French, b. 1929-), Deux Chevaux a Soir, 1966, oil on canvas, signed lower right, 45 inches by 57½ inches. Estimate $30,000-$40,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

Andre Brasilier (French, b. 1929-), Deux Chevaux a Soir, 1966, oil on canvas, signed lower right, 45 inches by 57½ inches. Estimate $30,000-$40,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

One of a pair of 18th/19th-century Chinese figures, male and female, 7 ft. 2½ inches tall, polychrome painted and carved wood with later addition of parasols, Brighton Pavilion manner, on gilt illuminated box-form bases. Estimate $25,000-$35,000 pair. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

One of a pair of 18th/19th-century Chinese figures, male and female, 7 ft. 2½ inches tall, polychrome painted and carved wood with later addition of parasols, Brighton Pavilion manner, on gilt illuminated box-form bases. Estimate $25,000-$35,000 pair. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

Exquisitely designed and crafted for David Barrett’s own range of 20th-century furnishings, these are examples of his Rococo-style Grotto Chairs. Each has a shell-form back and seat with dolphin-form arms, shell-carved scroll legs. The auction will include two lots containing a pair of chairs each, and three lots each containing a quartet of chairs. Lot of four estimated at $4,000-$6,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

Exquisitely designed and crafted for David Barrett’s own range of 20th-century furnishings, these are examples of his Rococo-style Grotto Chairs. Each has a shell-form back and seat with dolphin-form arms, shell-carved scroll legs. The auction will include two lots containing a pair of chairs each, and three lots each containing a quartet of chairs. Lot of four estimated at $4,000-$6,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

A Chinese red-lacquered and gilt-decorated “opium bed” measuring 7 ft. 3 inches by 7 ft. 7 inches served as a VIP seating area when David Barrett entertained friends. Estimate $3,000-$4,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

A Chinese red-lacquered and gilt-decorated “opium bed” measuring 7 ft. 3 inches by 7 ft. 7 inches served as a VIP seating area when David Barrett entertained friends. Estimate $3,000-$4,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

David Barrett decorated his Chinese bed with a family of three 19th-century Southeast Asian carved and painted wood monkeys, the largest of the figures measuring 24 inches tall. The monkeys are offered as one lot with an estimate of $4,000-$6,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

David Barrett decorated his Chinese bed with a family of three 19th-century Southeast Asian carved and painted wood monkeys, the largest of the figures measuring 24 inches tall. The monkeys are offered as one lot with an estimate of $4,000-$6,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

Baltic Neoclassical 20-light chandelier, gilt bronze and cut glass with suspending swags and 10 pairs of candles over a lower tier inset with mirrors, 45 inches high by 32 inches in diameter. Estimate $15,000-$25,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

Baltic Neoclassical 20-light chandelier, gilt bronze and cut glass with suspending swags and 10 pairs of candles over a lower tier inset with mirrors, 45 inches high by 32 inches in diameter. Estimate $15,000-$25,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

Omar Rayo (Colombian, b.1928-), oil on canvas, 40 inches by 40 inches, signed on verso. Estimate $15,000-$20,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

Omar Rayo (Colombian, b.1928-), oil on canvas, 40 inches by 40 inches, signed on verso. Estimate $15,000-$20,000. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Tepper Galleries.

London's Tate Modern gallery as seen from across the Thames. Photo by Hans Peter Schaefer.

Amid controversy, UK’s Tate Modern temporarily shuts exhibition

London's Tate Modern gallery as seen from across the Thames. Photo by Hans Peter Schaefer.

London’s Tate Modern gallery as seen from across the Thames. Photo by Hans Peter Schaefer.

LONDON (AP) – Britain’s Tate Modern has temporarily closed an exhibition that includes a nude image of a 10-year-old Brooke Shields, following a visit from a London police unit that deals with obscene publications.

The Tate said in a statement Thursday that it has temporarily shut the room housing “Spiritual America” by artist Richard Prince. Sale of the catalogue accompanying the exhibition is also on hold.

Ruth Findlay, a spokeswoman for the museum, says the Tate is in discussions with the police.

The police issued a statement saying that they met with staff at the Tate on Wednesday, the day before the exhibition was to open to the public.

The police say they are eager to work with gallery management to ensure they do not cause any offense to their visitors.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-10-01-09 0933EDT

Wild West lawmen Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson both had an association with Dodge City, Kansas. Public domain image.

Ruling brings old Dodge City ledger closer to home

Wild West lawmen Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson both had an association with Dodge City, Kansas. Public domain image.

Wild West lawmen Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson both had an association with Dodge City, Kansas. Public domain image.

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – A historic Kansas police docket book with references to Wild West lawmen Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson is one legal step closer to being returned to Dodge City following a federal court ruling removing all claimants to it except the city.

The ledger details city court cases from 1878 to 1882, and the FBI has said it’s worth about $100,000. It was seized in May from a home in Ohio.

Many of Dodge City’s historical documents were stolen during the 1960s, when the television series, Gunsmoke, was most popular, said George Laughead, president of Dodge City’s historical society. Only two of Earp’s signatures remain in the city today, Laughead said.

The ledger would contain all of Earp’s cases and many of Masterson’s, he said.

“These dates cover the high points of the cattle drives, so an awful lot of our mythology occurred between 1878 and 1882 and it is going to be in here,” Laughead said.

Ownership of the ledger has been in limbo since the U.S. attorney’s office filed a forfeiture case in a legal maneuver to return the wayward book to the city. The federal government alleged it was the proceeds of interstate transportation of stolen goods.

U.S. District Judge Monti Belot issued a partial default order Tuesday removing all potential claimants except Dodge City. No one else had claimed an interest in it. The government filed a motion Wednesday asking for a final forfeiture order, including a compromise settlement that would release the ledger to Dodge City.

FBI Special Agent Robin Smith said in an affidavit filed in the government’s case that city officials believe “persons unknown” stole the book sometime after 1950.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case, Jim Cross, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said Wednesday.

“There are a lots of historical documents that were taken from the court that we are still in process of trying to track down and gain possession, but none as important as this,” said Terry Malone, the attorney representing Dodge City.

“It gives it a kind of personal flavor – brings, I guess, history to life,” he said.

In his affidavit, Smith said the book was last documented in the city’s possession in the early 1950s. That’s when a writer used it while researching Dodge City’s past as a rollicking cattle town.

The author, Stanley Vestal, wrote a book on Dodge City history titled Queen of the Cowtowns Dodge City, The Wickedist Little City in America 1872-1886. The book contained several references to the police ledger.

Somehow, the ledger ended up in the possession of James Collins, of Blacklick, Ohio, outside Columbus. Smith said in his affidavit that Collins told FBI agents the ledger had been passed from his grandfather to his father to him.

Collins told agents he had been a pilot in the 1980s ferrying doctors between Wichita and Dodge City, but the family never lived in Dodge City, according to the affidavit.

Collins did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press left Wednesday at his home.

The ledger surfaced in 2007 after Collins agreed to turn it over to a Scottsdale, Ariz., dealer who sells cowboy collectibles to auction it on consignment. The dealer contacted an expert in old Western lore to authenticate the book and publicize it.

That’s when Laughead found a blog entry about the ledger and recognized it as missing city property, and alerted authorities. The antiques dealer ultimately returned the book to Collins rather than become entangled in a legal fight, according to the affidavit.

The ledger was seized from Collins’ home under a search warrant after he refused to allow agents to view it during an interview.

Dodge City filed a claim to the book in the forfeiture case, contending it owns the police docket, which it called an official record of the city.

Collins did not file a claim.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WS-09-30-09 1804EDT

Feds recover counterfeit copy of Wyeth watercolor

WILMINGTON, Del. – Federal authorities have recovered a counterfeit copy of a 1939 watercolor by artist Andrew Wyeth.

The painting is a copy of Wreck at Doughnut Point. It was recovered by the FBI after a California dealer who purchased it nine years ago for about $20,000 contacted a Texas auction house to sell it.

The auction house contacted the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pa. A curator there recognized it as a painting

Wyeth had identified as fake in response to an inquiry from a Connecticut art dealer a decade earlier.

Wyeth was the son of famed painter and book illustrator N.C. Wyeth and father of painter Jamie Wyeth. He died in January at his Chadds Ford home at age 91.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Grateful Dead Archive truckin’ to new online home

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) – The world’s largest collection of Grateful Dead memorabilia has found new life on the Internet, where the psychedelic rock band’s recordings, photos and collectibles will be preserved online.

The Grateful Dead Archive is currently housed at the McHenry Library on the University of California, Santa Cruz campus.

The school’s library has received $615,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to photograph the collection items and upload them to a new Web site, The Virtual Terrapin Station.

Once uploaded, the public will be able to access the collection online and contribute their own digital photos.

The extensive collection includes thousands of pictures, toys, posters, journals, show tickets and other pieces of paraphernalia donated by band members and fans.

___

Information from: Santa Cruz Sentinel,
http://www.santacruzsentinel.com

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WS-09-30-09 1247EDT

Auditors issue opinion: Barrett-Jackson complied to auction standards

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – An independent audit conducted by Deloitte & Touche LLP at the behest of Barrett-Jackson Auction Co. LLC was released today and indicates the classic car auctioneers complied with proper auction practices during the 2008-2009 season.

Barrett-Jackson ordered the audit to clear any doubts that may have lingered after a 2007 legal action in which a consignor alleged the Arizona auction house had engaged in improper auction activities. Barrett-Jackson, in turn, brought a suit against the consignor, which led to a settlement and exoneration of all allegations against the auction firm.

“The release of this report is part of Barrett-Jackson’s continued commitment to transparency in our auction practices,” said Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson. “Particularly in light of stories that have surfaced recently concerning business practices at other car auction companies, we felt the time was right to have an independent review and validation of our auction practices.”

Deloitte & Touche performed the examination of Barrett-Jackson’s auction records during the summer of 2009. The project, an “attestation” in formal terms, centered on a review of the “assertions” made by Barrett-Jackson’s management team that summarize the company’s auction-related business practices.

The examination covered Barrett-Jackson’s last full auction season, which included the 2008 Las Vegas event as well as the 2009 events in Scottsdale and West Palm Beach. The final Independent Accountants’ Report is dated September 17, 2009, and was issued by Deloitte & Touche to Barrett-Jackson on September 29, 2009.

The cover letter addressed to the Board of Directors of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, LLC reads, in part, “We have examined management’s assertions, included in the accompanying Barrett-Jackson Auction Assertions and Criteria listing, that Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, LLC complied with specific criteria listed in the aforementioned listing for their Las Vegas, Nevada auction, which occurred in October 2008, the Scottsdale, Arizona auction, which occurred in January 2009, and the Palm Beach, Florida auction, which occurred in April 2009…In our opinion, Barrett-Jackson complied in all material respects with the aforementioned assertions and criteria for the auctions noted above.”

Craig Jackson said his company enlisted the services of Deloitte & Touche to conduct the independent probe “because they are a world class, globally recognized professional services and auditing firm…We wanted to send a clear message about the seriousness of this project…”

Barrett-Jackson’s president, Steve Davis, remarked, “Barrett-Jackson is proud of its ethical business practices and dedication to transparency, integrity and fairness in conducting the company’s collector car auctions. Particularly in these times of economic turbulence and distrust of the country’s financial institutions, we felt that it was a good time to take this proactive step to demonstrate to our customers and others who follow Barrett-Jackson that we offer a fair, trustworthy forum for buying or selling a collector car. It is rewarding to receive this third-party validation that Barrett-Jackson is a place where transparency is honored and customers are treated fairly.”

Topics reviewed by Deloitte & Touche in the project included: validity and consistency of Barrett-Jackson’s consignment procedures, accurate documentation of the terms of each sale, consistent and documented commission structure on both buyer and seller side, and timely payment of proceeds to consignors.

Davis said he encourages other classic car auction houses to initiate similar independent audits as a sign of good faith to collectors.

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Four Russian pilots' badges and leather box with Imperial Russian Coat of Arms, estimated to sell for $5/7000 in Cowan’s Nov. 4, 2009 Fall Firearms and Early Militaria Auction.

Cowan’s Corner: Early aviation wings take flight with collectors

Four Russian pilots' badges and leather box with Imperial Russian Coat of Arms, estimated to sell for $5/7000 in Cowan’s Nov. 4, 2009 Fall Firearms and Early Militaria Auction.

Four Russian pilots’ badges and leather box with Imperial Russian Coat of Arms, estimated to sell for $5/7000 in Cowan’s Nov. 4, 2009 Fall Firearms and Early Militaria Auction.

Early WWI aviation collecting is an exciting and popular field. Collectors are drawn to aviation because it was new, dangerous, and filled with unlimited possibilities for technical advancement. At the inception of WWI there were only five airplanes in the American Military Aviation department. By the war’s end this number jumped to 2,500 airplanes.

The field of early aviation insignia collectibles is fairly large in scale. In addition to the aviation wings there are also collar, sleeve insignia and other aviation cloth insignia with corresponding symbols to denote pilot’s divisions and units. Because WWI aviation wings are scarcer than their WWII counterparts, a beginning collector should be prepared to pay a premium for WWI wings.

The earliest American aviation wing was created when the U.S. War Department’s General Order #39 was issued for the first Military Aviator’s badge on April 17, 1913. The first badges had an eagle clutching two Signal Corp flags and was entitled “Military Aviator.” They were manufactured by the U.S. Ordnance Department at Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois. These rare first issue wings were originally made of 14-karat gold. The inspiration for the badge was the “Expert Rifleman’s Badge,” which was intended to be used as an award badge and not a qualification badge.

Usually the more common WWI wings were struck from one piece of silver, embroidered with silver wire and the gold “U.S.” was applied to the shield. These badges had pins, safety catches or screw posts for attachment to uniforms. WWI badges have symbols and letters that designate the bearer’s position in the military. To distinguish between experienced aviators and junior aviators, the right wing was omitted from the junior aviator’s badge. The half-wing form of badge was discontinued after WWI.

Independent jewelry stores created badges for two years during WWI, though most of the early badges were made by one of the dozen large manufacturing companies. These jewelry-store badges are hard for a collector to identify because each one has individual characteristics. However, advanced collectors can identify the jeweler who made these badges by inspecting their unique, individual style.

Dallas Wings from WWI, made for pilots and crew at Kelly Airfield in Texas, the largest military airfield at during the war, are highly sought by collectors, possibly because of their associations with Charles Lindbergh, who graduated from the Kelly Advanced Flying School in 1925. 250,000 men were organized into aero-squadrons in 1917 and 1918 associated with Kelly Airfield.

During WWII, large medal manufactures such as Balfour and Jostens flourished. WWII wings are mass produced and slightly less ornamental, and are therefore generally of lesser value than earlier WWI wings. Wings are still produced today for commercial and military purposes, but lack the craftsmanship of their earlier counterparts, thus making the WWI wings even more desirable.

One can start to collect early aviation wings by going to local military shows that hold conventions throughout the country. Auctions and antique shops are additional possibilities. As always, a collector should beware of the numerous fakes and reproductions that are on today’s market.

Research by Joe Moran.

altWes Cowan is founder and owner of Cowan’s Auctions, Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio. An internationally recognized expert in historic Americana, Wes stars in the PBS television series History Detectives and is a featured appraiser on Antiques Roadshow. Wes holds a B.A. and M.A. in anthropology from the University of Kentucky, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Michigan. He is a frequently requested speaker at antiques events around the country. He can be reached via email at info@cowans.com.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


U.S. military aviator's badge, 1913 pattern, estimated to sell for $5/7,000 in Cowan’s Nov. 4, 2009 Fall Firearms and Early Militaria Auction.

U.S. military aviator’s badge, 1913 pattern, estimated to sell for $5/7,000 in Cowan’s Nov. 4, 2009 Fall Firearms and Early Militaria Auction.


WWI 1/2 observer's wing, estimated to sell for $1,200/1,600 in Cowan’s Nov. 4, 2009 Fall Firearms and Early Militaria Auction.

WWI 1/2 observer’s wing, estimated to sell for $1,200/1,600 in Cowan’s Nov. 4, 2009 Fall Firearms and Early Militaria Auction.


WWI jeweler-made bombardier's wings, estimated to sell for $800/1,200 in Cowan’s Nov. 4, 2009 Fall Firearms and Early Militaria Auction.

WWI jeweler-made bombardier’s wings, estimated to sell for $800/1,200 in Cowan’s Nov. 4, 2009 Fall Firearms and Early Militaria Auction.


WWI Dallas wings, estimated to sell for $800/1,200 in Cowan’s Nov. 4, 2009 Fall Firearms and Early Militaria Auction.

WWI Dallas wings, estimated to sell for $800/1,200 in Cowan’s Nov. 4, 2009 Fall Firearms and Early Militaria Auction.