Eye on Auctions


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Memorabilia and more

Tribal art, rare fossils, Hollywood memorabilia, Latin American and American works of art, fine books, important autographs, modern decorative arts and design--there is much to enjoy at upcoming auction previews. Open to the public free of charge, the exhibitions may prove a welcome respite to the crowds of sightseers and tourists flooding the streets of NY as the holiday season gets into full swing. Here are a few of the most notable items. Check the websites for details and e-catalogues.

Bonhams NY (bonhams.com)


The Nov. 14 sale of African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art features a majestic Baga D'mba mask of wood, brass and metal from coastal Guinea representing an idealized mother. The amazing star of the Nov. 19 auction of Fossils is a pair of dinosaur skeletons found in Montana in 2006 that were preserved together locked in battle as the meat-eating theropod attacked its herbivorous ceratopsian prey. On Nov. 25, A Century of Movie Magic, curated by TCM, comprises posters, screenplays, scripts, stills, letters, fabulous costumes, and such over-the-top props as the 1940 Buick Phaeton from "Casablanca" and Sam Spade's tufted leather chair from "The Maltese Falcon."


Christie's NY (christies.com)


Two paintings being sold by the Cleveland Museum of Art to benefit future acquisitions and property from the collection of important Mexican gallerists, Estela and Joaquin Shapiro are featured in the Nov. 19-20 auction of Latin American Art. The star item of the Dec. 5 American Art sale is Hopper's "East Wind over Weehawken," 1934, acquired in 1952 by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which is selling it now to kick-start a new endowment fund for purchases.


Sotheby's NY (sothebys.com)


Fine pieces by lesser-known Latin American artists are among the works of art to be sold Nov. 20-21. The Nov. 26 single-lot auction is devoted to the "Bay Psalm Book," the first book printed in British North America. It is one of only 11 known to remain from the 1700 copies that were published in 1640, and is the first complete copy to appear at auction since 1947. Examples of American Art to be sold on Dec. 4 include masterworks by Norman Rockwell from the family collection of Kenneth J. Stuart, Sr., who was art editor at the "Saturday Evening Post," and American Indian pieces, western art and photographs from the David J. Brown Family. A Thomas Jefferson letter on the Lewis & Clark Expedition is a highlight of the Fine Books & Manuscripts sale on Dec. 5


Swann (swanngalleries.com)


Desirable collectibles to be found in the Nov. 21 auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature include a rare first American edition of "Moby-Dick," a first limited edition of "Lady Chatterley's Lover," with a postcard Lawrence sent from Santa Fe to his wife Frieda at Baden-Baden, first editions of Rex Stout's first two detective novels in original dust jackets, and a signed first edition of Roth's first book, "Goodbye Columbus." It is always a thrill to handle documents signed by European royalty, including Ferdinand and Isabella or Mary Queen of Scots, letters and documents signed by such significant American historical figures as Washington, Lincoln and Lee, or an archive of correspondence about physics from Einstein and others. Still, the most dazzling items in the Nov. 26 Autographs sale are by musicians, notably a section of Mozart's "Serenade in D major," K185.


Phillips (phillips.com)


The Nov. 22 sale offers terrific Latin American Art from the mid-20th century to the present day. The Dec. 17 Design auctions contain gorgeous modern and contemporary furniture, sculpture and decorative arts, including ceramics from the Betty Lee and Aaron Stern Collection by Hans Coper, Lucie Rie, Gertrud and Otto Natzler, and Ken Price, who was honored this summer with a retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, wonderfully installed by his friend and admirer, Frank Gehry.


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