PHILADELPHIA — Freeman’s is pleased to reflect on the many successes of its spring/summer 2021 auction season. Despite the continued challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Freeman’s has not only maintained its standing, but deepened its relationships with clients, expanded its team with newly created positions, and broken several world auction records so far this year.
“Reflecting on the first half of 2021 at Freeman’s, I am exceptionally proud of the results we have achieved,” said Alasdair Nichol, Freeman’s Chairman. “We’ve seen remarkable sale successes and shattered numerous records, and at the same time expanded the range and quality of our client services. We take the trust of our clients very seriously, and continue to deliver excellent results in return.”
After quickly and nimbly pivoting in 2020 from in-person to digital auction sales in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Freeman’s has continued to build on its successes stemming from this flexibility. Freeman’s was one of the first houses that decided to switch to online-only auctions rather than cancel or postpone its sales when lockdowns first began in March 2020. Freeman’s successes cut against the grain of larger market trends — during the past year and a half, global auction sales have dropped by 30% overall and 27.8% in the United States. That Freeman’s has continued to grow, breaking records along the way, in the midst of global turmoil speaks to its commitment to providing uninterrupted service to its consignors and deepening trust-based relationships with clients across the world.
Freeman’s best-ever sale realizes $6.4M
Freeman’s February 23 European Art & Old Masters auction realized more than $6.4 million, nearly quadrupling its pre-sale high estimate and marking the best sale total Freeman’s has ever recorded. A highlight of the auction was the sale of Carl Moll’s White Interior, which sold to a private American collector for $4.7 million — Freeman’s highest selling lot to date and a world auction record for works by Moll. Says David Weiss, Head of Sale, “It was a privilege to have been entrusted with such an exceptional work, which had been in the same family for more than a hundred years; the consignors are understandably thrilled.”
Signer’s copy of the Declaration of Independence sells for $4.42M
In a historic July 1 single-lot auction, Freeman’s achieved $4.42 million for a signer’s copy of the Declaration of Independence, exceeding by five times its pre-sale high estimate of $800,000. The copy of William J. Stone’s 1823 printing of the document was rediscovered in Scotland by Freeman’s sister auction house, Lyon & Turnbull, and the alliance between the two houses underscores Freeman’s strength in the international market. The result marks the second-highest price ever paid at auction for any copy of the Declaration of Independence, and is the highest price ever paid at auction for an American document printed in the 19th century—achievements befitting Philadelphia’s auction house, founded less than 30 years after the birth of the nation.
Freeman’s demonstrates strength in Asian arts
Freeman’s April 8 Asian Arts auction was a season highlight, achieving more than $3 million in total with a 91% sell-through rate, an exceptional result. A red-underglaze Meiping Dragons and Waves vase commanded more than nine times its pre-sale high estimate, selling for $2.3 million. “We’re absolutely thrilled that Freeman’s is able to offer such a fine and well-curated collection of Asian art,” says Head of Department Ben Farina, “including various porcelains, jades, and other works of art.” Asian Arts confirmed Freeman’s prominence and expertise in the presentation of these works, and their strong market demand.
Record-breaking American art results
American Art and Pennsylvania Impressionists, Freeman’s June 6 auction, also far outperformed its pre-sale overall estimate to achieve nearly $3.5 million. Between December 2020 and June 2021, our American Art department has realized more than $10 million in fewer than 200 lots, in what Chairman Alasdair Nichol calls “Freeman’s most successful year for American art yet.” The June 6 auction featured the historic sale of Sylvia Shaw Judson’s Bird Girl, offered at auction for the first time, which commanded an impressive $390,600. It also featured the sale of six works by American painter Albert York, the sales of which broke previously held world auction records for work by York; the total sale for this suite of works was $685,440.
Freeman’s expands its services and geographic reach
With the April appointment of Robin Nicholson to the role of Art Museum Consultant, Freeman’s deepens its commitment to its institutional clients. Building on almost 35 years of experience in the art world, Nicholson comes to Freeman’s to offer consultation on collections policies, deaccessioning strategies, acquisitions, and consignments. In May, Tracey Kahle joined Freeman’s staff as its Kansas City Regional Representative, a newly created position that confirms Freeman’s role as a powerful market force in America’s auction landscape. Kahle’s expertise in jewelry appraisals and collections is a significant addition to Freeman’s team, increasing Freeman’s presence in Kansas City, Kansas, and allowing us to better serve our clients.
Freeman’s Fall 2021 season
After a successful Spring/Summer 2021 auction season, Freeman’s is pleased to present a robust fall sale season including the auction debut of a private collection of seven sculptures by celebrated artist Francois-Xavier Lalanne in its November 17 Modern and Contemporary Art auction. Anchored by a set of five of Lalanne’s iconic epoxy stone and bronze sheep, or Mouton de Pierre, each sculpture in the collection was acquired directly from the artist in the late 1980s and has remained in the same home ever since. The collection, coming from a prominent Washington, D.C. family, includes five Mouton de Pierre of consecutive numbers from a 1988 edition of 250, with each carrying an estimate of $100,000-$150,000; a patinated bronze Rhinoceros III, estimated at $60,000-$80,000, and a patinated bronze Elephant, estimated at $40,000-$60,000.
Also on the upcoming auction calendar: Books and Manuscripts on September 23, Asian Arts on October 8, Jewelry and Watches on October 28, American Furniture, Folk and Decorative Arts on November 10, American Art and Pennsylvania Impressionists on December 5, and Design on December 8. All auctions are currently accepting consignments.
View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/