The Auction Block: A Piece of Time

November 7, 2017

Christies 18K Gold Wristwatch With “John Player Special Paul Newman” Dial Rolex, c. 1970 Estimate: $390,000 – $490,000 Auction Date: November 13, Geneva Christie’s Geneva will devote an entire sale […]

The Auction Block

October 11, 2017

BONHAMS “Artist, Mind, Studio,” 1994 Viola Frey (1933–2004) Estimate: $60,000 – $80,000 Auction Date: October 25 Over the course of her five-decade career, Viola Frey produced an impressive body of […]

The Auction Block

September 13, 2017

Weschler’s “Fan Fire IV,” 1970 Sam Gilliam (b. 1933) Estimate: $100,000 – $150,000 Auction Date: September 15 Having relocated to Rockville in June, Weschler’s, the D.C. area’s oldest auction house, […]

The Auction Block

August 10, 2017

Bonhams 1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Estimate: $120,000 – $160,000 Auction Date: September 2 This exquisite Rolls-Royce Continental Touring Saloon is part of Bonhams’ Beaulieu Sale in the south of England […]

The Auction Block

May 3, 2017

Breaking News: Weschler’s Moving to Rockville After 127 years in Washington, D.C., Weschler’s will move in June from the firm’s historic building at 909 E St. NW to a new […]

The Auction Block – January 12, 2017

January 12, 2017

Christie’s “Madonna lactans with the Last Supper” North Italian School (late 15th/early 16th century) Estimate: $100,000 – $150,000 Auction Date: January 25 It is rare to find a North Italian […]

The Auction Block

For centuries, auctions and estate sales have been used to establish the value of artifacts, artworks, artists, and items of historic or cultural significance. While they are premier venues for finding rare and unique antiques, as well as unprecedented artworks, auctions carry with them a sense of gambling on history that infuses them with a thrilling, electrical current. Given our city’s entrenchment in historic significance and artistic richness, it seems fitting that we should keep ourselves abreast of current auction trends and big-ticket sales. Keep an eye out for The Auction Block, where we will cover the biggest sales and auction pieces from all of the country’s premier auction houses. Now, where shall we start the bidding?

Doyle New York
George Washington Autographed Letter
Auction Date: Nov. 5
Estimated Value $80,000 – $100,000
Founded in 1962, Doyle New York is one of the world’s foremost auctioneers and appraisers of fine art, jewelry, furniture and more, with representatives throughout the U.S., including an office here in Georgetown. Highlighting Doyle’s Sale of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps is a letter from Washington to his wartime aide James McHenry dated Dec. 10, 1783, where Washington describes seeing the British evacuate New York and his intention of retiring and becoming a private citizen. Washington did retire to Mount Vernon, but only to be lured away to the Constitutional Congress in Philadelphia, where he was then elected the nation’s first president in 1789.

Christie’s New York
François Boucher (French 1703 – 1770)
The Bird Nesters
Oil on canvas
Auction Date: Oct. 24
Estimated Value: $250,000 –$350,000
Christie’s will host Treasures of France, From The Sun King To The Belle Époque – Vincennes And Sèvres Porcelain, French Furniture, Old Master Paintings, Books And Textiles From The Collection Of Dr. Bruce Wilson, an estate sale of one of the most important private collections of Vincennes and Sèvres porcelain of recent times in the United States. Dr. Wilson has acquired an amazing range of pieces from some of the most famous services of the 18th Century. Among the items, François Boucher’s painting, The Bird Nester, is a small masterpiece of the Rococo tradition, depicting the light-hearted scene of a budding romance.

Mark Rothko (American 1903 – 1970)
No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue)
Oil on canvas
Auction Date: Nov. 13
Estimated Value: $35 – 50 million
A seminal, large-scale masterpiece by Mark Rothko will lead Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Contemporary Art in New York. “No.1 (Royal Red and Blue)” was painted in 1954, a time considered by many to be the zenith of the artist’s creative powers, and, in a fitting twist of fate considering this newspaper’s current anniversary issue, the founding year of The Georgetowner. Standing at nearly 9 ½ feet tall, this majestic canvas was one of eight works hand-selected by Rothko for his landmark solo show of the same year at the Art Institute of Chicago. Leading up to the auction, the canvas will be on view in New York beginning Nov. 1.

John William Godward, RBA (British 1861 – 1922)
Waiting for the Procession
Oil on Canvas
Auction Date: Oct. 31
Estimate: $400,000 – $600,000
Founded in 1793, Bonhams is the world’s third largest auction house, offering more sales categories in more auction rooms around the world than any other firm. From their offices in Georgetown, they provide local clients expert advice and international reach in every collecting category. A case in point is this stunning painting by John William Godward, discovered in Arizona, previewed in London, and to be sold in San Francisco and New York on Oct. 31st. This exceptional Godward painting, along with other international highlights, will visit Washington, D.C. for a private viewing at the British Embassy on Oct. 22nd. For details contact Martin Gammon: (202) 333-1696.

Sloans and Kenyon
Eagle Woodcarving by John Haley Bellamy (American 1836 – 1914)
Auction Date: Nov. 9 – 11
Sloans & Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers, located in Bethesda, Md., hosts estate catalogue auctions of fine art and antiques approximately five times each year.

In their Eight Annual Auction of Americana and More, they will auction items from the estate of the renowned late architect Arthur H. Keyes, including a rare carving by John Haley Bellamy, a noted 19th
century New England folk artist known for his highly stylized carved wooden eagles. This piece is a resplendent example of the legendary artist’s work. An exhibition preceding the auction will be on view at the auction house Nov. 3 – 8.

William Frederick de Haas (American 1830 – 1922)
The Maine Shoreline
Oil on canvas
Auction Date: Nov. 16
Estimated Value: $40,000 – $60,000
Washington D.C.’s only auction house, Weschler’s has been a local tradition for over 120 years. A monumental William Frederick de Haas oil on canvas depicting a hazy Maine shoreline hits the market Nov. 16th, as part of their Capital Collections Estate Auction. In a private local collection for over fifty years, the painting captures the solitude and vastness of the American coast and is an exceptional example of de Haas’ work. The auctioning of this work is expected to reflect a renewed collector interest in American Luminist paintings. An exhibition preceding the auction begins November 10th at Weschler’s, 909 E Street, NW Gallery.

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The Auction Block

September 14, 2016

Doyle New York “Boats in Choppy Water Offshore,” 1865 Mauritz Frederik Hendrick de Haas (1832–1895) Auction Date: Oct. 5 …

The Auction Block

May 4, 2016

Doyle New York
George II Stripped Pine Pier Mirror, c. 1740
Auction Date: May 18
Estimate: $6,000 – $8,000

Part of Doyle New York’s auction of English & Continental Furniture & Decorative Arts/Old Master Paintings, this gorgeous mirror with its classical features exhibits the influences of Daniel Marot, the Huguenot architect to William III, and — in the mask of Riana within a scallop shell — William Kent, architect to Lord Burlington.

“Road Block,” 1949
Norman Rockwell (1894–1978)
Auction Date: May 18
Estimate: $4 million – $6 million

“Road Block” is among the most ambitious of the more than 300 paintings Rockwell executed for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell received particular praise for his ability to encapsulate the components of a complex narrative — plot, character, mood and setting — into a single image.

“Exoke,” 2013
El Anatsui (b. 1944)
Auction Date: May 11
Estimate: $600,000 – $800,000

At more than five square feet of shimmering, undulating, sculptural material blocked into textural swaths of vivid color, El Anatsui’s “Exoke,” part of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Afternoon Session at Christies, is mesmerizing. The visually and conceptually rich work is one of the Ghana-born, Nigeria-based artist’s celebrated “hangings,” which examine the remnants of globalization, consumerism, colonialism and post-colonialism in West Africa.

“Tête de faune”
Pablo Picasso (1881–1973)
Auction Date: May 11
Estimate: $50,000 – $80,000

Part of Bonham’s Impressionist and Modern Art Sale, this is a prime example of Picasso’s late-career whimsy, when he began combining bold, sun-kissed colors with an almost childlike simplicity. It is reminiscent of his woodcuts, ceramic work and poster designs for his own exhibitions, which themselves have become collector’s items.

Alex Cooper
Important Sapphire and Diamond Ring
Auction Date: May 12–14
Estimate: $15,000 – $20,000

Dated June 17, 1985, from the American Gemological Laboratory, this dazzling platinum ring is centered with a natural sapphire, with diamond surround and shank, custom designed and marked.


Sloans & Kenyon
“Scouting with Daniel Boone,” 1914
Norman Rockwell (1894–1978)
Auction Date: May 1
Final Selling Price: $119,500

This early Rockwell painting was originally a wedding present given to the owner’s grandfather, a great outdoorsman, from his five ushers in July 1925. It had previously been published as an illustration for “Scouting with Daniel Boone” in 1914. Little did those ushers know that a small painting by a then-unknown young artist would one day sell at auction for more than $100,000.

The Auction Block

April 6, 2016

Doyle New York
Platinum and Diamond Ring
Signed Gumbiner
Estimate: $175,000 – $225,000
Auction Date: April 18

Doyle New York’s auction of Important Jewelry showcases jewelry by the world’s most prestigious makers, including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, David Webb and Tiffany & Co., with offerings spanning the Antique, Victorian, Edwardian, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Modern eras. This platinum and diamond ring, size 6, centers an emerald-cut diamond, flanked by two kite-shaped diamonds.

The Shirley Temple Blue Diamond
Estimate: $25 million – $35 million
Auction Date: April 19

Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale is led by the rare Shirley Temple Blue Diamond. Weighing 9.54 carats, the charming cushion-cut fancy blue diamond ring was originally purchased by the child star’s father, George Temple, in 1940 as the film “The Blue Bird” was completed.

Ruby Ring by Verdura
Estimate: $12 million – $15 million
Auction Date: April 20

Featured in the Magnificent Jewels & The Jubilee Ruby auction at Christie’s, the Jubilee Ruby — set in a distinctive gold and diamond mounting by the legendary firm Verdura — is the most important ruby of its caliber to be offered for sale at auction in the United States in more than 25 years. Until the middle of the 19th century, only the sovereign of Burma, or an individual deemed worthy by him, would have been allowed to possess such a magnificent gemstone.

Handwritten Sherlock Holmes Manuscript
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930)
Estimate: $380,000 – $420,000
Auction Date: April 11

A handwritten draft by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of his 1893 Sherlock Holmes mystery “The Case of the Greek Interpreter” is a highlight of the Fine Literature sale at Bonhams. The work is best known for the first appearance of Holmes’s older brother Mycroft. Other Sherlock Holmes material will be offered, notably a handwritten page from “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” probably the most famous Sherlock Holmes story.

Embroidered Plan of the City of Washington, 1807
Susanna Wilkinson Atkinson (aged 14 years)??
Estimate: $15,000 – $25,000
Auction Date: April 19

This rare and charming bit of folkloric antiquity — worked with silk threads, watercolor and ink on a silk ground, the needles inserted below the inscription — was made after a plan of the city drawn by Pierre Charles L’Enfant and Andrew Ellicott. Part of Freeman’s auction of American Furniture, Decorative and Folk Art, the embroidery has remained in the family since it was made. It is only the fourth known Plan of the City of Washington embroidery.