News-Antique.com - May 22,2009 - May 15, 2009 – Today, before a crowded saleroom of international clients, Sotheby’s two sales of African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art brought a combined total of $10,582,129. The morning single-owner sale of The Sculptor’s Eye: African and Oceanic Art from the Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation surpassed the high estimate to bring $4,888,316 (est. $3/4.4 million*). The afternoon various owners sale, which also included Pre-Columbian Art, exceeded the low estimate to achieve $5,693,813 (est. $4.3/6.4 million).
Jean Fritts, Worldwide Director of African and Oceanic Art, commented, “The African and Oceanic market is a vibrant one, and today it responded well to the works presented with a great depth of bidding from a wide range of clients. It is interesting to note that for the first time ever half of today’s top ten lots in the various owners sale were works of Oceanic art, which is a testament to the great quality of the works on offer in that section, particularly from the esteemed collection of John and Marsha Friede.” Heinrich Schweizer, Director of African and Oceanic Art in New York, noted, “Today we saw that rare objects of great quality continue to inspire competitive bidding in the saleroom, evidenced by our strong sale total of $10.5 million for the day, which exceeds our total from a year ago of $10.1 million for a virtually identical number of lots. The Senufo kneeling female figure and the Ngbaka statue, both from the collection of the Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation, each more than doubled their high estimates. We were also particularly pleased with the sale of the Iriwáke figure which wiped out previously existing auction records and established a new record for sculpture from the Papuan Gulf region.” Stacy Goodman, Senior Consultant, Pre-Columbian Art, said, “Today we saw many experienced buyers from other fields participating in our sale at a very sophisticated level, as well as serious activity from a number of public institutions.
Great material with fresh provenance attracted active bidding from private, institutional and dealer clients alike.
Assembled from the 1930s through the 1960s, the collection of American sculptor Chaim Gross and his wife Renee was among the earliest collections of African art in the United States, and it has remained intact and largely unchanged since that time. Six bidders competed for the sale’s star work, a Magnificent, Rare and Highly Important Ngbaka Statue Representing the Mythical Ancestor Sètò from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which doubled the high estimate to bring a world record price of $1,258,500 (lot 67, est. $400/600,000). The figure, which has been widely published and acclaimed as the best-known example of its kind, was purchased by Gross directly from legendary collector Frank Crowninshield and first exhibited in the 1937 Brooklyn Museum Exhibition African Negro Art from the Collection of Frank Crowninshield. A Superb, Extremely Rare and Important Senufo Kneeling Female Figure from the Ivory Coast – possibly the only example of this unique iconography – soared to $758,500 after competition from three telephone bidders