Mar. 30, 2008
PASADENA, Calif.— On Tuesday evening, March 25, John Moran Auctioneers hosted their monthly fine antiques and estate sale at the Pasadena Convention Center. At the end of the evening, the sale would result in the highest-grossing fine antiques and estate sale in the firms 39 year history, earning $1.9+ million on the 386 lots sold. As with all John Moran auctions, LiveAuctioneers.com provided Internet catalog preview and bidding.
The staff at John Moran Auctioneers anticipated that the March 25th auction would be strong but no one expected it would earn almost double its predictions. A bit baffling to be sure, when, the headlines that day were filled with reports of record lows in home sales and record highs in loan defaults. After the March 25th auction, Vice President Jeff Moran was asked to comment on the strong results in light of the current economy. He shook his head in genuine amazement, commenting that they keep waiting “for the shoe to drop and take a strong hit” from the weakening economy but so far it hasn’t happened. He further commented that perhaps people are looking to invest their money in different ways than before, but that he was as surprised (and equally delighted) as anyone else who was in attendance that evening.
The high-grossing results of March 25th were fueled in great part by the high-end jewelry and fine furnishings that were offered. But the most astonishing event of the evening was an unexpected major world record for artist Anton Robert Leinweber (Czech Republic 1845-1921). John Moran is no stranger to setting world records for fine art—they routinely do so at their tri-annual sales of California and American paintings. But setting such a major world record at one of their antiques auctions, and for a European artist, was definitely a departure from their norm.
The painting, Arab Bazaar, was signed, inscribed and dated lower left: Robert Leinweber Munich 1889. The oil on canvas laid to canvas measured 72” by 53”. Based on Leinweber’s previous performance at auction on similar works, Moran assigned it a pre-sale estimate of $15,000 to $25,000. The highest price realized for Leinweber at auction was $7,123 which was realized in 1990 at Christie’s London on his work entitled The Marketplace, Tunis. Flash forward almost 20 years later, the estimate of $15,000 to $25,000 on a superior work was not unrealistic. What was “unreal” was the event that would unfold when Arab Bazaar came on the block.
President and auctioneer John Moran, with an absentee bid in place, opened the bidding at the low estimate of $15,000. Up and up the increments kept climbing until Moran finally announced “SOLD” and dropped the hammer at $170,000 ($195,500 with 15% buyer’s premium). Yes indeed, a new world record had solidly been set for Anton Robert Leinweber. While the room broke into applause, there was a look of bewilderment on most faces, particularly on the face of John Moran.
To view the fully illustrated auction catalog, with prices realized, log on to www.liveauctioneers.com