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Worthpoint Painting Beats Estimate in Huge Sotheby’s Auction

by Joe Verrengia (06/25/08).

A painting stored in the closet of a Boulder home and brokered by WorthPoint has sold at Sotheby’s prestigious spring sale of Impressionist and Modern Art for nearly 50 percent above its low estimate.

The painting, “Coin De Paris, Rue de Meaux,” by Takanori Oguiss sold in the second day of the two-day auction for $103,000. Its pre-sale estimate was $70,000-$90,000.

Tammy Bullock, the painting’s owner, had a hunch the painting might be valuable. She almost threw it out twice, but she kept it in the back of a closet while she tried unsuccessfully to research its value.

Last December Tammy turned to WorthPoint for help. She asked a free question about her painting on the WorthPoint web site. Worthologist Thom Pattie quickly recognized the artist and arranged a deal with Sotheby’s to include it in the spring sale.

Pattie, who guided Tammy through the process, said he is thrilled with the auction’s results. “I enjoy using my expertise to help people,” Pattie said. “Many people don’t know what treasures they have in their own home, and even if they do, they aren’t familiar with the selling process. That’s what Tammy needed and that’s how we were able to help.”

Tammy is still trying to keep her excitement in check, but now that the auction is over, she is allowing herself to think about what she’ll do with the money. She plans to spend part of it on special contact lenses that her son needs and some of it on her children’s education.

Overall, Sotheby’s spring sale realized a total of $233.3 million, meeting pre-sale estimates. The average lot value was $5.7 million, up from $3.5 million six months ago. Sotheby’s officials attributed the strong results to global economic strength, particularly in the oil industry, and a slice of super-rich collectors in the Middle East, China and Russia. Yet nearly 70 percent of the bidders in New York were American clients, they said.

Spring auctions by the major houses through early June will offer art valued at a total of more than $1 billion, reflecting the continuing art boom. Yet there are unsettling trends. Sotheby’s stock price is roughly half what it was last October and it is giving buyers more time to pay for their successful bids.

In the May 7-8 sale, the superstar works were Ferdinand Leger’s Cubist masterpiece “Study of a Woman in Blue, which had never been offered at public auction. It sold for $39.2 million, a record for the 20th-century French artist. The painting’s pre-auction estimate was $35 million to $45 million. The abstract geometric painting shows a woman in a blue dress seated at a table with her hands in her lap.

Edvard Munch’s 1902 “Girls on a Bridge” was auctioned for $30.8 million, nearly $3 million above its pre-sale estimate and also an artist record.

The buyers for both works went unnamed by Sotheby’s.

The Oguiss work was sold on the auction’s second day, which is devoted to larger lots of smaller works. Still, the auction’s second day contained works by many important artists, including Picasso, Leger, Degas, Chagall and Miro.

By comparison, Oguiss may not be such a household name, but he is known to fine art experts.

The Japanese painter moved to Paris as a young man in the 1920s. His oil paintings of deserted street scenes in his adopted city have a quiet, austere simplicity. His works rely on energetic brush strokes and thick textures to keep the buildings from appearing dull. He left people out of his paintings, preferring their absence as part of the aesthetic appeal of his work.

WorthPoint’s video “Tammy Saves $90,000 Painting from the Trash”

Denver Television Station’s Report KUSA-TV (9News)


WorthPoint’s CEO Will Seippel’s article “Where Do I Sell My Item”

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