Stars of Hollywood Royalty Auction

The Pickfair auction, held at the Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, Calif., this past weekend was filled with art, antiques and movie memorabilia collected over the years by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.

This is not the first time that Pickford’s possessions have been up for sale. The December 2006 sale by Julien’s offered more than 200 items from the legendary actress’ collection, which featured a collection of personal correspondence from Douglas Fairbanks to Pickford that sold for more than $28,000.

Hollywood’s reigning couple, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford

Saturday and Sunday’s auction, too, had some standouts. The auction sales, under the expert auctioneering skills of Kathleen Guzman, started slow with a great portion of the continental furniture going way below estimates, and the trend continued throughout the first and second sessions. However, Lot 268, the 103-piece dinner service by Capo di Monte exceeded its estimate of $8,000 to $10,000, selling for $13,000.

The silver for the most part made a poor showing with the exception of the Victorian-era Elkington Epergne centerpiece, Lot 272, which sold within its $1,500 to $2,500 estimate for $2,000.

Elkington Epergne centerpiece

Session three, which included expected heavy hitters, saw more activity and higher bidding. Lot 411, the Mercier portrait of three children in a landscape, did not meet its estimate of $25,000 to $35,000, instead selling for $15,000. Next up were the Paul de Longpre oil-on-canvas botanicals, Lots 412 and 413, that sold, again below or just touching their estimates at $17,000 and $20,000, respectively.

Mercier portrait

The collection of Rodin-style watercolors, discovered to be the works of the infamous forger Ernst Durig with an estimate of $8,000 to $10,000, crashed at $1,000. The landscape attributed to Asher Durand with an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000 made a poor showing at $5,000. This was one of my picks, but upon personal close examination of the painting, it was clear that this was not a Durand. The painting lacked the luminosity and depth of detail attributed to his works.

Haseltine horse is a winner

There was no surprise that Lot 423, the Herbert Haseltine sculpture of a Percheron horse exceeded its estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. A New York dealer purchased it for $34,000. Haseltine’s works, which consisted largely of equestrian statues and were commissioned throughout his career by the rich and famous, hold their value, and it’s possible that this piece was purchased for immediate sale to a client.

The show wrapped up with the excitement of session four’s sale of the autograph book, Lot 749, which had an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. This impressive collection of personalized autographs from 1926 through 1981 included the luminaries of the century such as Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, Pearl Buck, Lillian Gish, Mussolini, George Bernard Shaw, Jonas Salk, FDR, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and hundreds more. To a serious collector of autographs, this collection would be at the center and a jewel to own. It went for $19,000.

Mary Pickford’s autograph book with (right) Thomas Edison’s signature

– By Christopher Kent, a member of the WorthPoint board of advisers and director of evaluations for WorthPoint. He is also an antiques and collectibles generalist, fine-arts broker and president of CTK Design.

WorthPoint—Get the Most from Your Antiques & Collectibles