Weekly News Roundup: July 20-24, 2009

In art, antiques and collectibles news, a beautiful doll sets a record, an auction house expands, another takes a big sales hit and a dumped artist dumps his worldly goods.

From The Annapolis (Md.) Capital:
Annapolis firm fetches record price for antique doll

The little beauty, dressed in the style of the Ballets Russes of Paris, circa early-20th century, brought in a big $263,000 at auction. The antique doll is a creation of Albert Marque, whose work is considered “the pinnacle” for collectors. Another Marque went for $215,000 six years ago, then the record.

From Auction Central News:
Former Christie’s VP Mark Prendergast joins Heritage

The auction business may be suffering, but someone forgot to tell Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas. Heritage is opening galleries in Beverly Hills and New York. As part of the expansion, the firm has hired a former vice president of Christie’s to run a new office in Houston and serve as director of trusts and estates.

From Bloomberg:
Christie’s First-Half Sales Fell 35% on Global Slump

Mark Prendergast must have felt a tad relieved that he is now with Heritage (see above) when the figures on Christie’s first half were released. While the number of lots sold rose 5 percent, the $1.98 billion brought in represented a 35-percent drop. Furthermore, for the first time, Paris took over as the leading sales location, partially because of the super St. Laurent auction.

From ARTINFO:
Jilted, Gallery-Less Jasper Joffe Plans “Sale of a Lifetime”

In a case of overreaction overkill, British artist Jasper Joffe is selling everything he owns—from paintings to teddy bears—everything except the clothes on his back. Why? He got dumped by his girlfriend. The five-day “event” is being billed as part sale, part exhibition and part performance art.

From The Washington Post:

A Wilted Watergate Awaits Highest Bidder at Auction

From CNN International:
Watergate Hotel gets no bids at auction

Always wanted to own a piece of history, if a somewhat infamous one? The Watergate Hotel, part of the complex that played a starring role in the downfall of Richard Milhous Nixon, went up for auction Tuesday. No one coughed up the $25-million opening bid, so the 40-year-old building was pulled from the block. There has been talk of converting the 251 rooms into condos. Renovations might run as high as $100 million—no doubt some of that would go for plumbers.

From Bloomberg:
Marc Dreier’s Manhattan Condo Sold at Auction for $8.2 Million

In more real-estate auction news, Marc Dreier’s 3,000-square-foot Manhattan apartment gaveled down at $8.2 million. That’s about three-quarters of what he paid for it two years ago. In case you’ve been so focused on Bernie Madoff’s miscreancy, Dreier is the lawyer who was convicted of selling phony promissory notes to hedge funds to the tune of $400 million. Proceeds from the sale will go to bankruptcy creditors and the U.S. Attorney’s office.

From Reuters:
Huge Hollywood prop house closing after 40 years

Los Angeles’ 20th Century Props is wrapping up and will auction its 93,000 props, some of which were used in the movies “Cleopatra” and “Titanic,” TV’s “Golden Girls” and the “X-Files” and music videos featuring Michael Jackson and Madonna. The owner blames recent economic woes and more movies and TV shows being produced in states and countries with better incentives than California.

From Auction Central News:
LiveAuctioneers launches first iPhone app with auction-bidding capability

As reported below, Christie’s is starting an iPhone application, but LiveAuctioneers beat the auction house—and everyone else—in the race for bidding capability. By downloading the app, users can place absentee bids using their iPhone. No wonder Apple’s profits went up 15 percent in the third quarter.

From Bloomberg:
Lehman Holds eBay Garage Sale, Hawking Trinkets to Pay Off Debt

All right, every little bit helps. At least that seems to be the bankrupt Lehman Brothers’ mantra. To raise money, the financial-services firm has turned to eBay where it has put up for auction such items as an umbrella that won’t go inside out in winds up to 80 mph, a duffel bag with the company logo and a tie. It might take a while to put a dent into Lehman’s debt. The company owes in the neighborhood of $250 billion.

From The Telegraph UK:
Apollo 11 Moon landing: Michael Collins’ space suit up for auction

As previously reported, a check signed by astronaut Neil Armstrong will be auctioned in London just in time for the 40th-anniversary of the moon walk. Also in that auction in the NASA boiler-suit worn by Michael Collins, who stayed behind to captain the space capsule while Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left footprints on the lunar soil. It’s expected the suit will go for £10,000 ($16,000).

From New York magazine:
Dash Snow Piece Pulled From Auction

Before his death from a reported heroin overdose, 27-year old Dash Snow—known as much for his bizarre art as his party going—donated a piece for an auction to benefit the Watermill Center. The item was pulled from the block out of deference to the family, which includes his grandmother, the grande dame Christophe de Menil, and aunt Uma Thurman.

From Auction Central News:
PEZ parent company sues museum, alleges snowman infringes on copyright

There was a time that if you called a photocopy a Xerox when it wasn’t, you got a lawyer’s cease-and-desist letter. But Patrafico AG has gone a step further. It’s suing a small museum in California for displaying an almost 8-foot statue shaped like a PEZ dispenser. The Swiss company, which manufactures the candy, is crying copyright malfeasance. To mollify Patrafico, the couple that owns the museum had stopped saying its 85-pound figure is the “world’s largest PEZ dispenser.” Instead, it is referred to as the “world’s largest dispenser of PEZ.” (Yes, it really does pop out the candy and is able to hold 6,480 pieces.) Gary Doss, one of the owners, speculates that after ignoring collectors for years, Patrafico may want to start its own museum and wants to get rid of competition.

From The New York Times:
Museum Should Give Disneyana a Boost

Potentially good news for collectors of all things Mickey, Donald, Dopey and Cinderella. A new Disney museum opening in San Francisco is expected to increase interest in Disney collectibles. With 77,000-square feet in three historic buildings, visitors will be able to enjoy clips and movies on 200 monitors, ooh and ahh over a 1950 bumper car and check out original art. The museum will open in the fall.

From The Telegraph UK:
Christie’s auction house launches iPhone app

Christie’s may have been founded almost 250 years ago, but that doesn’t mean it can’t go 21st-century tech. With the venerable auction house’s new IPhone and IPod Touch application, users can get catalogs, sales results, appraisals and, at some point, make online bids. And the app is free.

From The Washington Post:
Prophet Margin: What Does the Future Hold for the Sale of Jeane Dixon’s Possessions?

For years, Jeane Dixon was America’s most famous psychic with a syndicated column and a best-selling book. In 1956, she predicted that a Democrat would win the 1960 presidential election and later be assassinated. She also predicted that in 1958, we would be in World War III with China as our chief enemy. Still the woman had sway, even offering soothsaying to Nancy Reagan on what Ronnie should do. Dixon died in 1997 maybe at age 79, maybe at age 93. On July 26, contents of her Washington, D.C., home will be auctioned—including her crystal ball.

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