Even Sotheby’s makes mistakes

Rare Tiffany Studios Laburnum table lamp, Sotheby's lot 227

Sotheby’s New York will hold their sale of Important Tiffany today, December 16, 2010. There are only 33 lots in the sale — but most of them are important and high quality. The offerings range from original oil paintings by Louis Comfort Tiffany to glass to lamps, like a Laburnum, lot 227.

Reproduction Tiffany Studios vase, Sotheby's lot 202

You would think their experts would be able to spot a fake Tiffany vase when they saw one, but lot 202, sneaked past them and into their catalog. It’s listed as “A Superb Monumental Floriform Vase”, circa 1900, Favrile glass, engraved L.C. Tiffany-Favrile W2977, 16 5/8″ high. Provenance — Private Collection, Paris. $15,000-20,000. The only problem is that it’s not by Tiffany Studios, but a modern reproduction. Upon receipt of the catalog, I immediately doubted the authenticity of the vase, but waited to make a final judgment until I could see it in person. There was no doubt in person. The cup part of the vase was good quality, but the foot was all wrong. It’s a decoration Tiffany did not do. The signature was an obvious fake, of which, unfortunately, I don’t have a photo. I can only assume that the European consignor was an important client with other valuable objects, so the vase did not get the proper scrutiny it deserved. It’s rare for reproductions to get past their experts.

(P.S. – Thursday afternoon, December 16, 2010, 1:55 PM. I just found out that Sotheby’s withdrew the above lot, #202, before sale time. I don’t know if someone read my blog and informed them or if they found out another way, but luckily it was not put up for sale. It saved the potential buyer a lot of grief.)

Christie’s Tiffany results were excellent on December 15th, so I can only assume that Sotheby’s will be too. I’ll post blogs next week about the recent 20th Century sales in New York at the major auction houses. One item soared past estimates to sell for almost $1 million.

If you like my blog, please let your friends know by sending them a link. Then check out my new Tiffany, Daum, Gallé and R. Lalique acquisitions. I’ve recently listed many of them on my website, including Daum blackbirds, swans, rain, and more to come in the next few days, plus a killer red Tiffany Favrile vase. Here’s the link. chasenantiques.com

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