Grandma Moses ‘Happy Days’ tops Swann Galleries sale 

Anna Mary Robertson ‘Grandma’ Moses, ‘Happy Days,’ oil on Masonite, 1961. Sold for $81,250. Swann Galleries image

NEW YORK – Swann Galleries opened the fall 2020 season with a whirlwind sale of American Art on Thursday, Sept. 17. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

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Tiffany Studios powers Fontaine’s auction to $2.4M

The top lot of the auction was this Tiffany Studios Oriental Poppy chandelier that drew multiple online and phone bids before finishing up at $665,500. Fontaine’s image

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Items produced by Tiffany Studios are always a highlight at Fontaine’s fine and decorative arts auctions. Fontaine’s Sept. 12 auction was no exception with over 100 fine Tiffany pieces crossing the block. The expected highlight of the sale was a Tiffany Studios Oriental Poppy chandelier, which was consigned by a client from Maryland, who had inherited it decades earlier and finally decided to part with it. Sure enough, bidders were eagerly anticipating when that lot crossed the block, and it attracted multiple internet and phone bidders before landing at $665,500 with the buyer’s premium. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

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Beth Lipman contemporary exhibition on through April 4 at MAD

Installation view from Beth Lipman: Collective Elegy at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York (September 24, 2020–April 4, 2021). Photo by Jenna Bascom

NEW YORK – The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) presents Beth Lipman: Collective Elegy, from September 25 to April 4, 2021, a major midcareer survey that is the first to assess the remarkable achievements of the renowned contemporary artist. From sumptuous displays of excess, including provocative installations comprising hundreds of individual glass elements, to poetic and contemplative works in glass, metal, clay, video, and photography, the works on view are ethereal meditations on time and mortality and simultaneously sobering indictments of our contemporary consumer culture and its impact on the planet.

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Morphy’s Oct. 29-31 Coin Op & Advertising Auction features premier Mel Getlan collection

Only known example of a showstopping Caille Bros., ‘Triple Centaur Jackpot’ musical upright slot machine. Accepts nickels/quarters/nickels in its three separately operating sections. Original condition, including metal castings. Working, with keys. One owner since the 1970s. Estimate $200,000-$300,000

DENVER, Pa. – On October 29-31, Morphy’s will auction the last – and very best – of the renowned Mel Getlan collection, along with other fresh-to-market collections, at an all-star 1,635-lot Coin-Op & Antique Advertising Auction. The live event will start at 10 a.m. ET on all three days. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

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Quinn’s Oct. 22 auction showcases fine ethnographic arts

Baga-a-Bamp bird headdress with detachable figure and bird finials, Guinea, West Africa, 20th century; wood and pigment. Measures 29 1/2″ x 19″ x 20 1/2″. Estimate $1,500-$2,500. Quinn’s Auction Galleries image

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – On Oct. 22, Quinn’s of northern Virginia will offer an outstanding boutique auction of 151 ethnographic artworks, including cultural relics of Native American, Pre-Columbian and African tribes and civilizations. Bidding methods for this sale include absentee, phone or live via the Internet; no in-person floor bidding. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

The fully curated auction includes a high-quality selection of Native American paintings, ceramics and Navajo rugs; as well as fine African and Pre-Columbian figures, masks and utilitarian objects. Many of the pieces have prestigious provenance.

The sale’s top Pre-Columbian highlight is an important Veracruz (Mexico) carved stone palma dating to 600-900 CE. It is similar to examples in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection. Named for their palm-frond shapes, palmas were part of the elaborate regalia worn by players during ritualistic Mesoamerican ballgames and typically have a motif that reflects the game’s theme of sacrifice. A palma would be attached to a stone yoke worn around the waist and serve a practical purpose by protecting the player’s chest and vital organs. The auction example, which is decorated with the profile of a bird in bas relief, is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.

Veracruz stone palma of a type worn during a ritualistic Mesoamerican ballgame as part of elaborate regalia, 600-900 CE. Palmas are held in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Estimate $8,000-$12,000. Quinn’s Auction Galleries image

Standouts from an incredible auction selection of 38 African masks are led by a copper Dinga Ngongo Munene creation from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This impressive mask is associated with a Dinga earth chief, and would have been used during funerals, commemorations, ceremonies, and initiation rites for young boys. Mounted on a wood stand, it is offered with a $3,000-$5,000 estimate.

Copper Dinga ‘Ngongo Munene’ mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Measures 13″ x 7 1/4″ x 3 1/5″. Estimate $3,000-$5,000. Quinn’s Auction Galleries image

A 20th-century Vuvi ancestor mask from Gabon would have been an instrumental part of bwete/bwiti initiation ceremonies for young people in the tribal community. It was crafted from wood, kaolin (representing Ngonde, the moon) and other pigments. Previously, this mask was part of a private New York collection. It is now being presented by Quinn’s with a $2,000-$3,000 auction estimate.

Vuvi ancestor (moghondzi) ask, Gabon, 20th century; wood, kaolin (representing Ngonde, the moon), and other pigments. Measures 16″ x 8″ x 4 1/4″. Estimate $2,000-$3,000. Quinn’s Auction Galleries image

Another 20th-century artwork, a “totem-style” Yoruba Epa mask from Nigeria is made of wood and pigment, and has detachable bird finials. It is representative of a type used during ceremonies to commemorate ancestral warriors. A similar mask can be found at the Brooklyn Museum. Auction estimate: $1,500-$2,500.

Yoruba Epa mask with detachable bird finials, Nigeria, 20th century; wood and pigment. Measures 56″ x 18″ x 16″. Estimate $1,500-$2,500. Quinn’s Auction Galleries image

Male figures of carved wood have long been a part of the art traditions of African tribes, and several excellent examples from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are featured in the October 22 auction. Among them are a 20th-century Hemba figure, estimate $1,500-$2,500; and a late-19th-century Teke figure with an extensive line of provenance that includes: Cecile Kerner, Brussels; a private Australian collection, Dr. John Dintenfass of New York City, James Stephenson of New York City, and a third private New York City collection. It is estimated at $1,500-$2,500.

Hemba male figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 20th century, wood. Measures 23″ x 7 1/2″ x 8″. Estimate $1,500-$2,500. Quinn’s Auction Galleries image

A Bembe figure, also from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was made from wood and nails, and has ceramic eyes. The 11-inch figure was previously held in private European and American collections, and also sold at Bonhams’ May 15, 2013 auction in New York (Lot 149). Quinn’s auction estimate is $1,000-$2,000.

Bembe male figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo; wood, nails, and ceramic eyes. Measures 11″ x 3″ x 2 1/4″. Estimate $1,000-$2,000. Quinn’s Auction Galleries image

A late 19th/early 20th-century Dan figure from the Poro Society, Liberia, is a well-executed, interestingly detailed bronze mounted on a wood stand. The Poro Society is a secret fraternal group with its own special rituals, language, tattooing and symbols. Its origins date to as early as 1000 A.D. The Dan/Poro figure to be auctioned comes with provenance from John J. Klejman, New York; and a second private New York collection. It is expected to make $1,500-$3,000 on auction day.

A Dan bronze figure, Poro Society, Liberia, 19th/20th century. Measures 7″ x 3 3/4″ x 1 1/4″. Estimate $1,500-$3,000. Quinn’s Auction Galleries image

A colorful creation from Guinea, West Africa, a Baga a-Bamp bird headdress has detachable male and female figures and bird finials. The 20th-century artwork was carved from wood and smoothly finished with pigment. The artwork is a whimsical depiction of human riders struggling to remain on the back of a wonderfully decorated, long-billed bird. It measures 29½ by 19 by 20½ inches and is estimated at $1,500-$2,500.

Three beautiful mid-20th-century Navajo rugs are entered in the sale. A natural-dye rug measuring 14ft 6 inches by 9ft 6 inches displays an appealing gold, gray and white pattern and is expected to make $400-$600. A circa-1940s rug, 5ft by 3ft 10 inches, was executed in red, black, white and gray, and comes to auction with a $300-$400 estimate. From a similar time period, a 4ft 11-inch by 3ft 6-inch rug has a dense sawtooth pattern and is estimated at $200-$300.

A Two Grey Hills Navajo rug. Measures 12’3″ x 8’1.” Estimate $2,000-$3,000. Quinn’s Auction Galleries image

 Quinn’s Thursday, Oct. 22, auction will start at 2 p.m. EDT. For additional information about any item in the auction or to discuss a future consignment, call Charlotte Taylor at Quinn’s, 703-532-5632 ext. 526, or email


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Katana swords: forging an ancient spirit

Circa-1735 Japanese Edo period woodblock print of a samurai with a tachi.

Warlike, hereditary and highly class-structured, Japan was ancient well before other civilizations rose and fell. The shogun, its warrior class, kept the peace with mostly one weapon, the samurai sword, which was so perfect in design that it defined a society for nearly a thousand years. Of those swords, the katana would be the one most identified with this ancient Japanese culture.

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Rob Lowe sells California estate for breathtaking price

Beautiful mountain and ocean views surround Rob and Sheryl Lowe’s recently-sold Montecito, California, home. Image courtesy of

MONTECITO, Calif. – Rob and Sheryl Lowe shown that patience is not only a virtue but often a necessity in today’s high-end real estate market. Having listed their home in 2018 at $47 million and with only one price cut in 2019 to $43 million, it just sold above the asking price at $45.5 million to the co-founder of RoundTable Health Care Partners.

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2 Stanford economists win Nobel prize for auction theory

Nobel Prize gold medal. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

STOCKHOLM (AP) – Two American economists won the Nobel Prize on Monday for improving the theory of how auctions work and inventing new and better auction formats that are now woven into many parts of the economy, including one that revolutionized the telecoms industry. Read more

The Hot Bid: Kicking the tires on a futuristic concept car

La Shabbla, the futuristic concept car designed by the late John Bucci. Everard Auctions & Appraisals image

What you see: La Shabbla, a futuristic concept car designed by the late John Bucci. Everard Auctions & Appraisals estimates it at $50,000 to $75,000.

The expert: Amanda Everard of Everard Auctions & Appraisals.

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Moran’s Traditional Collector auction produces strong prices

Johann Berthelsen (1883-1972, New York) ‘George Washington Bridge at Night,’ 1945, oil on canvas. Price realized: $6,875. Moran’s image

MONROVIA, Calif. – John Moran Auctioneer’s Sept. 23 Traditional Collector realized strong prices for quality décor, furnishings and art from Continental Europe and beyond. Collectors fought throughout the sale to add the fresh-to-market offerings to their collection, showing the market for fine craftsmanship is as robust as ever. Moran’s next Traditional Collector auction in December is already filling up with choice property from local estates, consignments are invited. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

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