Universal Live’s Black History Month auction closes Feb. 24
The Black History Month auction is featuring artwork (by noted artists such as Romare Bearden, LeRoy Neiman, Mary Ann Rose, Peter Mars, Nathaniel Barnes and Essud Fungcap) plus a wide range of Black Americana objects, including 19th century pipes depicting black faces, authentic slave leg shackles (est. $200-$300), 1960s-era concert posters and sports items.
The men and women depicted in the many artworks are iconic Black American figures that cross multigenerational lines. They include basketball great Michael Jordan, boxing legend Muhammad Ali and musical giants like Billie Holiday, Nat “King” Cole, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and others.
The sale’s expected top lot is an original portrait on canvas of a scene from the movie The King and I, by William Chambers (est. $20,000-$35,000). The oval image, titled We Kiss in a Shadow, originally appeared on a well-known collector plate distributed by the Bradford Exchange. It was the fourth in a series and had been held in Chambers’s private collection.
Currently generating a good amount of online hit activity are a Civil War-era photo of black soldiers at Camp Brightwood, D.C. (est. $50-$75); a print of an original work by the black artist Archibald Motley titled Casey & Mae in the Street (est. $50-$80); and a signed letter and autograph photo of the renowned 19th century black figure Frederick Douglass (est. $100-$150).
LeRoy Neiman is one of America’s most famous contemporary sports artists, and this auction features numerous signed limited-edition prints. One, titled Muhammad Ali – Athlete of the Century, is double-signed, by Ali and Neiman (est. $7,500-$8,000). Another is a serigraph of Michael Jordan, shown surrounded by players from the Orlando Magic (est. $11,900-$14,375).
Speaking of Michael Jordan, three mixed media serigraphs depicting Jordan and signed by him and the artist, Carlo Beninati, carry estimates of $4,000-$6,500. They are titled Free Throw, Next Point and Last Victory Dance. Also, a giclee of Jordan, signed by Stephen Holland (est. $5,900-$7,375), plus another of Kobe Bryant (est. $7,500-$9,375) are being sold.
Romare Bearden (1911-1988) is considered one of the most important African-American artists of the 20th century. His collages of photos and painted paper on canvas depict aspects of American black culture in a Cubist style. Signed, limited-edition serigraphs by Bearden in the auction include Sorcerer’s Village (est. $3,750-$5,770) and Two Women (est. $2,850-$4,380).
Antique cast-iron banks are enormously popular with collectors, and examples showing black figures have double the appeal. The auction features a Dinah mechanical bank, where the user places a coin in her hand, presses the lever on her back and her eyes roll and her hand moves to her mouth; and a 7 1/2-inch-tall Mammy still bank. Both should realize $250-$375.
Pipes fashioned in the 19th century, depicting black faces (some of them even made by black Americans) are also coveted by collectors. The auction boasts many examples, including an exceptional carved walnut pipe of a black alligator trainer about to leap into a swamp and straddled to a huge alligator, crafted by a black American in South Carolina (est. $1,725-$2,500).
Other pipes include an early clay pipe depicting the head of a Southern slave (circa 1840-1860), unearthed at a tavern site in South Carolina, probably cast and given to a bidder when slaves were sold in the Charleston area (est. $400-$600), a detailed African-American clay pipe, 4 inches long (est. $150-$225), and a hand-carved wooden slave pipe (est. $370-$555).
Prints of concert posters from the 1960s carry estimates of $50-$80 each. These include Aretha Franklin at Philharmonic Hall in New York City in Oct. 1968 (and featuring the Sweet Inspirations with Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mother), James Brown in Nov. 1963, a week before the Kennedy assassination, and Stevie Wonder for a 1969 concert appearance in England.
Returning to artwork, multiple works by emerging and established artists are being sold. Examples include a half-dozen works by Mary Ann Rose (all est. $3,920-$6,030), two original mixed media works depicting Muhammad Ali by Peter Mars (est. $7,900-$9,880, $1,900-$2,925), and works by artist Nathaniel Barnes, two of them expected to sell for $3,500-$5,380.
Other items of Black Memorabilia include an engraved whale’s tooth depicting the wharf at New Bedford, Mass., and a slave (est. $250-$375); a cast-iron black child eating a watermelon (est. $150-$225); an original seat from Chicago Stadium (est. $600-$925); and a 1992 political button showing Bill Clinton and the black Senate candidate Carol Moseley Braun (est. $40-$60).
For additional information on any item in the auction, call 847-412-9900 or e-mail email@example.com.
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.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE