Two private collections with impeccable provenance and formidable names helped Freeman's see 2016 out on a high note. The two days of private collections resulted in $1.5 million in sales. Both the December 14 auction of The Forbes Collections and December 15 sale of The Brewster Collection brought competitive bidding from across the globe for a wide range of works, cementing the auction house's reputation as the go-to for successfully produced sales of private collections.
"It is our belief that keeping a collection together, and offering it as a whole, adds a premium to its value. Not just for the consignor, but for the benefit of the works themselves and how they are presented to the buyers," remarked Freeman's Vice Chairman Alasdair Nichol after the sales.
Over the course of his life, Malcolm Forbes amassed a collection of such breadth and depth that it filled a half-dozen residences on three continents. Freeman's presentation of The Forbes Collection offered fine and contemporary art, photography, modern design, silver, furniture and more drawn from the houses on his two hundred-fifty square mile ranch in Colorado, palace in Tangier, mansion in London, island in Fiji, legendary yacht “The Highlander”, FORBES former headquarters at 60 Fifth Avenue and his beloved New Jersey estate “Timberfield.” This eclectic mix from one of the world's most renown collectors brought interest from across the globe, with bidders from Hong Kong and Australia competing on the phones and internet with local buyers from Philadelphia and New York.
The collection included numerous sleeper hits, including Marta Aronson-Danzig's 19th century Portrait of a Nun. The striking portrait had been an online sensation, drawing a great deal of attention. Amusing social media comments remarking the nun's striking similarity to former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani aside, all were pleasantly surprised when the painting soared beyond its modest pre-sale estimate of $2,000-3,000 to achieve a remarkable $10,625. Another surprise came from Szeto Keung's The IV Movement of Symphony No. 9 'Not by Beethoven,'" which saw a heated battle between two phone bidders before finally settling on a result five times the original estimate, bringing $23,400. The top lot of the sale was another modern work of art, Raoul Dufy's colorful "Au Bord du 'Queen Mary'" which quadrupled its expected price to sell for $40,625 to a lucky bidder in the room.
For Senior Vice President and Division Head of Furniture & Decorative Arts Nicholas B. A. Nicholson, one of the most satisfying results of the day included enthusiastic bidding for the selection of Biedermeier furniture in the sale. After falling out of fashion in recent years, Nicholson remarked that it was "refreshing to see a renewed interest in Biedermeier with excellent provenance and at such reasonable prices."
The following morning on December 15, Freeman's presented The Brewster Collection. Married in 1945 and described as an “inseparable couple” who shared many common interests, Nancy and Andre Brewster were both respected activists and philanthropists. They also shared a passion for fine art and classic furniture, and the "'small, but perfectly formed sale," as described by Vice Chairman Alasdair Nichol reflected this. Benefitting from a select London exhibition earlier in the year, the sale received a great deal of attention from the United Kingdom and across Europe. Eager collectors from London and Paris on the phone and internet competed against New York and Philadelphia bidders, resulting in an impressive 91% sell-through rate for the 33 lot sale.
The top lots of The Brewster Collection were British artist Edward Seago's "The John Biscoe in Pack Ice" and French painter Jules Achille Noël's pair of paintings entitled "Plage du Treport." Both paintings achieved an impressive $106,250 result, though it was the Seago that stole the show, far exceeding the pre-sale estimate of $20,000-30,000. The striking work was created by Seago when he was a guest of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh aboard the Royal Research Ship John Biscoe in the Antarctic.
Highlights of The Forbes Collections
Highlights of The Brewster Collection
Images: From The Forbes Collections, Raoul Dufy (French 1877-1953) "Au Bord du 'Queen Mary,'" Sold for $40,625; A Biedermeier parcel-ebonized cherrywood desk, Attributed to Josef Danhauser, circa 1820, Sold for $6,500; From The Brewster Collection, Edward Seago (British 1910-1974) "The John Biscoe in Pack Ice," Sold for $106,250