LARCHMONT, N.Y. — Clarke Auction Gallery dubbed its February 6 sale the “Awesome Estates Auction,” and it lived up to its name. The undisputed top lot was a Fernand Leger (French, 1881-1955) painting that achieved $375,000.
The circa-1954 gouache, titled Les loisirs, depicted figures engaged in leisure activities — a motif the artist repeated throughout his career. This work is markedly similar in composition to his lithograph titled Le Picnic. Opening at $125,000, bidding for the painting steadily climbed, and within a few minutes, one bidder was left standing: a private art collector in the United States.
The Leger was one painting in a strong group of fine art offerings that achieved heartening results. Standout works included a signed Alexandre Cabanel (French, 1823-1889) painting, Contemplation or The Italian Servant, which sold for $55,000, to an untitled 1958 map-drawing of Las Vegas by Saul Steinberg (American, 1914-1999) rendered in ink, colored pencil and graphite on paper, which earned $40,000. According to the Saul Steinberg Foundation, the drawing’s original title was Saul Steinberg Stops for the Night.
Three-dimensional art was featured and bronzes, in particular, found favor with buyers. Angel Botello’s (Puerto Rico, 1913-1986), Girl with ponytail, a signed and numbered limited edition work (number 10 of 12), realized $18,750.
The auction took place about a week before Valentine’s Day, and buyers clearly had gift shopping on their minds. A signed Ilias Lalaounis 18K gold necklace sold for just above its high estimate at $10,000. The lavalier-style necklace featured a hand-hammered and matte finish to its beads, and its drop pendant can be unscrewed for an alternative look.
Other lots that outperformed their estimates include a pair of Asian (probably Chinese) spinach jade table dividers that doubled its high estimate to bring $11,875, and an Asian red lacquered and giltwood carved wood Buddha that attained $7,500, well above its $400-$600 estimate.
Rounding out the auction highlights was an Art Nouveau gilt-decorated vase attributed to Raoul Francois Larche that rose to $6,875.
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