BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Carlyle Galleries International Inc., art auction March 16 produced strong results across multiple categories, including Impressionist Modern and Old Master paintings. More than 300 bidders from 41 countries participated in the online auction. Absentee and Internet bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
A highlight of the auction was a mid-century modernist painting by Filipino modernist, Macario Vitalis (1898-1990), from the estate of famed musician Louis Kaufman (1905-1994). The painting carried an estimate of $8,000-$12,000 and received numerous international bids, before selling to a private collector in Asia for $10,250 (prices include the buyer’s premium).
“Filipino art is a very strong performer now, and these painting do very well in Carlyle’s auctions,” said Carlyle CEO Jack Marks. “In my opinion, the buyer of this Macario Vitalis painting will do very well over the next five to seven years, as his prices catch up to other important Filipino artists like Arturo Luz, Vicente S Manansala and Fernando Cueto Amorsolo, which are setting record prices. Today, the market for Macario Vitalis reminds me of where Manoucher Yektai (Iranian/American modernist) was in 2012. I was selling Yektai paintings for $8,000-$10,000, which I recently offered to buy back for $35,000. Macario Vitalis is an undervalued artist on a similar trajectory, and I would not be surprised to see this painting reselling for $30,000-plus in the next five years.”
Carlyle Auctions is offering another Macario Vitalis in its April 5 auction, with a $10,000-$15,000 estimate.
Another interesting lot in the auction was a 1945 painting by Edgar Kiechle (1911-1960), depicting the violent set decorators’ strike at Warner Brothers studio that year. Titled Producers are Unfair (Hollywood Strike 1945), the painting was from a Hollywood estate and carried an estimate of $1,000-$2,000.
Kiechle was a set decorator and scenic painter for Hollywood film studios in the 1930s and ’50s. His paintings were exhibited at LACMA and the San Francisco Legion of Honor, and were collected by many entertainers and celebrities in the 1940s and ’50s. An artist long forgotten, only three paintings by Kiechle have sold at auction since 1996, with a previous top price of $850. Carlyle’s March 16 auction set a new record for the artist, selling for $1,280 to a private collector in Texas.
One of the most eagerly anticipated lots in the auction was a large painting by French artist Henri Maik (1922-1993) carrying an estimate of $18,000-$25,000. The early 1970s painting measured at 50 by 77 inches inches, making it his largest ever offered at auction.
“This was a superb composition, and Henri Maik at his best,” said Marks. “During the auction we had multiple bids from private collectors, which did not quite meet the reserve. The previous record for the artist was $13,100. That was for a similar period and size Henri Maik, but not anywhere near the level of quality of the lot we were selling. So it’s understandable that some collectors would hesitate to bid aggressively.” However, the passed lot received multiple offers after the auction, ultimately selling to a major gallery for a price inside the presale estimate of $18,000-$25,000, which would be a new record for the artist.
Carlyle Auctions is offering another important Henri Maik painting in it’s April 5 auction with a $6,000-$8,000 estimate.
Most interestingly, several lots which did not sell in the live auction (because bids did not meet the reserve), received multiple postsale offers, and ended up selling at prices above the high estimate.
“Typically, we receive offers for unsold items after each auction and sell many lots in the week after the live auction, usually at the low-estimate. What made this auction interesting, was that we received multiple postsale offers on many items, which ended up selling at significantly higher prices than they would have sold for during the live auction,” said Marks.
“Since January 2017, Carlyle Auctions is seeing much stronger art buying when it comes to the “middle market” than in years past. While the art world categorizes the ‘middle market’ as $250,000-$1,000,000, we would argue that ‘middle market’ in art is actually $5,000-$25,000, representing the type of art purchased by upper-middle-class consumers.
“Although major auctions sales have made news headlines in the past 4-5 years, those have always been $50 million+ ‘trophies’ – Picasso, Warhol Jeff Koons, Francis Bacon, etc. Those purchases were made by a billionaire class of buyerswhich benefited from near-zero interest rate environment and rising asset prices. Now for the first time since the 2008-10 recession we are seeing the middle-class collector re-emerge from years of hibernation,” added Marks.