News-Antique.com - Jan 24,2008 - A close up look at the details of the digits of renowned artist Salvador Dali (Spanish 1904-1989) could be found in the figures of a chess set designed by Dali at the request of his friend Marcel Duchamp in 1964 for the American Chess Federation. All of the pieces of the set were modeled after Dali’s fingers except the two Queens which used one of Dali’s wife’s fingers crowned with a tooth and the rooks which were modeled after the salt cellars of the Hotel Saint Regis in New York. Of the thirty two pieces sixteen are sterling silver and sixteen are silver gilt. The set was cast by F. J. Cooper of Philadelphia and was signed and numbered “AE 45.”
The set was consigned to Auction Gallery of the Palm Beaches from an estate on Palm Beach Island. The lot, appearing just past half way in the 328 lot sale, was hotly contested among two bidders in the room and one on the phone. One of the bidders in the room had flown in from New York for the sale and this was the only lot he bid on. He outlasted the other bidders claiming the set of finger figures for $23,400 including the buyer’s premium for the top lot of the sale.
The bulk of the January 7 sale was comprised of consignments from local estates and attracted over 400 registered bidders, 293 online through LiveAuctioneers.com, 70 phone bidders and 80 on the floor. Auction owner Brian Kogan remarked that bidders were serious about quality items, often bidding above estimate. Included in the quality list was an oil on canvas by Nicola Simbari (Italian B. 1927), entitled "Market" and signed “Simbari” lower right. With a provenance from Wally Findlay Galleries, New York #32762, the surface showed no inpainting under ultra violet light. Estimated at $6/8,000 “Market” sold in the room for $11,115. Other quality art work included a watercolor on paper by Henry Martin Gasser (American 1909-1981) entitled “Backyards in Winter.” Estimated at $1,200/1,600 it closed at $3,510. An oil on canvas by Johann Berthelson (American 1883-1972) called “Central Park at Dusk” sold online over estimate for $3,660.
Other quality lots included a superb eight piece Royal Berlin Tete set, German circa 1840, with blue scepter, red orb and KPM mark selling for $6,435 and a patinated gilt and polychrome bronze figure of Buddha, possibly Tibetan, in a seated position holding implements, 17½in tall, estimated at $1,200/$1,600 closing online for $4,575. Two early 20th century items of Judaica were also well received. A 15¼in tall pair of George V parcel gilt sterling silver Torah Rimonims, English, London 1920, each with Torah finials hung with bells, applied with lions and surmounted by the star of David went for $3,510 and a George VI parcel gilt sterling silver Torah breast plate, English London 1943, embossed with the lions of Judea, columns, book and a receptacle containing the four books, suspended from two chains, measuring 10¾in x 9in, closed over estimate