A few results from Sotheby’s A Vision: The Collection of Michelle Smith sale, April 22, 2021

Sotheby’s New York held A Vision: The Collection of Michelle Smith sale on April 22, 2021, with impressive total sales of $42,868,648. Included in the sale were several lamps and miscellaneous items by Tiffany Studios. Following is a review of several of them.

For the most part, the results for the Tiffany Studios items were weak, which is interesting because the Tiffany market is actually quite strong at the moment. I can only attribute that to the fact that the lamps were not in a 20th Century sale, but rather in a single-owner sale. I certainly had no idea that Tiffany lamps might be in the collection of Michelle Smith. In fact, I had never even heard of Michelle Smith.

Tiffany Studios 20″ diameter Poppy table lamp, Sotheby’s lot #54

Lot #54 was a stunning Tiffany Studios 20″ diameter Poppy table lamp on a very rare water lily base. From the photo, it looked fabulous, but I wasn’t going to bid since I hadn’t previewed the sale. I just couldn’t afford to take the risk without first having seen it in person. It sold below its low estimate of $180,000, realizing $201,600, including buyer’s premium. Seems like a bargain to me. The base alone is worth at least $150,000 and the shade at least $100,000. I thought the lamp would sell closer to $300,000.

Tiffany 17″ diameter Dragonfly table lamp, Sotheby’s lot #86

Lot #86 was an important Tiffany Studios 17″ diameter Dragonfly table lamp; more so for the base than the shade. The background glass was only fair, but the wings were a lovely mauve color. I’d give it a 7.5. The base was a rare, important Dragonfly mosaic example. I’d give it a 10. Most of the time the shade is more valuable than the base, but not for these two lamps. It sold below its low estimate of $220,000, realizing $252,000, including buyer’s premium.

Tiffany Studios Pine Needle desk set, Sotheby’s lot #77

I gasped and giggled when I saw the result of a 3-piece Tiffany Studios Pine Needle desk set, lot #77. It sold for $13,860, including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $1,000 – $1,500. I sell these same 3 pieces in the range of $3,500 – $4,500 all day long. Hey you, Mr./Ms. buyer! Please call or email me and I’ll help fill out your set for a lot less money!

For the complete results of the sale, click <a href=”https://www.cottoneauctions.com/prices-realized/auction/fine-art-antiques-5?view=grid&PricesRealizedForm%5Border_field%5D=%60t%60.%60lot_number%60&PricesRealizedForm%5Border_direction%5D=ASC&PricesRealizedForm%5Bnum_per_page%5D=200“>here</a>.

A review of some recent sales

I’m anxious to get back to business at antique shows. The Baltimore Summer Antiques Show will be the first possibility, but the Palm Beach Show Group has not scheduled a date yet. I assume it’s because the Baltimore Convention Center is still being used as a field hospital for Covid related activities. The tentative month for the rescheduled event is November, 2021.

In the meantime, I’m still doing good business from my website. Following is a review of some recent sales.

Tiffany Studios 20″ diameter Dragonfly table lamp

I bought a fine Tiffany Studios 20″ diameter Dragonfly table lamp privately. It had very nice green mottled glass in the background with green jewels, olive green dragonfly bodies, red and green swirled wings, and red jeweled eyes. It sold to the first person I offered it to. I’m trying hard to buy more Tiffany lamps, but they’re very difficult to replace at fair prices.

Daum Nancy Birch Tree scenic vase, before cleaning
Daum Nancy Birch Tree scenic vase, after cleaning

I sent photos of a beautiful Daum Nancy Birch Tree scenic vase to a client. He bought it from the photo. When I received the vase, I saw that it was dirty, so I cleaned it. It wasn’t just dirty, it was filthy, probably from a smoker’s house. The difference was dramatic, as evidenced in the two photos above. The colors are vivid now, with beautiful yellows and purples, especially in the background trees.

Daum Nancy Berry vase

I sold the beautiful Daum Nancy Berry vase pictured above. Why it took a while to sell is beyond me. It was gorgeous. I had to discount it more than I would have liked, but I hope that made the buyer happy.

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got some good Tiffany Studios items, especially lamps, that you’re looking to sell or trade. I’m also on the hunt for good pâte-de-verre by Argy-Rousseau and A. Walter and French cameo glass by Daum Nancy and Gallé. Please email me with your offers. I’ll write you a check and buy your items outright.

I tried to buy a couple of items at auction, but…

Monumental Le Verre Francais Poissons bowl

I tried to buy a rare, monumental (8½” tall x 16½” diameter) Le Verre Francais Poissons bowl at auction in France on March 16, 2021. I haven’t been selling much Le Verre Francais glass for several years, so I wasn’t really in the market, but this one was really rare. I also don’t like to deal in huge items and this one qualified as huge. Most of the time they’re not worth the extra space and effort.

The estimate was very low at €600 – €1,000. I was willing to pay €2,000, which equates to a landed cost in New York of $3,500, including buyer’s premium and shipping. At that price, I was willing to deal with the difficulties. The bidding started at a few hundred euros and jumped to €3,000 and then suddenly to €7,000. Finally a couple of determined bidders drove the final price to €16,250 ($19,500), including buyer’s premium. Wowza!

(I just found out yesterday, 4/12/21, from a client that the bowl is now being offered for sale by a European dealer for approximately $40,000. It was displayed at a recent fair.)

Gallé plum blownout vase

The next item was an exercise in frustration. I wanted to bid on a Gallé plum blownout vase at auction in France on April 10, 2021. The model is moderately rare, with pretty good color. The estimate was fair at €3,000 – €5,000. I did all my due diligence. I asked for a condition report and made arrangements to bid on the telephone. I even had the auction house confirm my phone bidding. So what happened? Nothing! They never called me. Argh! Dummkopfs!

But I have been successful in buying recently, so I can’t complain too much. I’ll try to list the new items as soon as I can.

Treasures can still be found at yard sales

Everyone dreams of going to a yard sale and finding a treasure, but what are the odds? Pretty slim, if you ask me; about as good as winning the lottery. But people do win the lottery and so do some yard sale buyers.

6¼” Ming Dynasty bowl

A simple-looking, 6¼” diameter, Chinese bowl was bought at a yard sale near New Haven, CT for $35 (without bargaining). The buyer suspected it was something good, so they sent a photo to the Chinese expert at Sotheby’s New York. And what a good move that was! It was indeed important.

The bowl was consigned to auction at Sotheby’s. They described it as An exceptional and rare blue and white ‘floral’ bowl, Ming dynasty, Yongle period, dating to the 15th century. On March 17, 2021, with an estimate of $300,000 – $500,000, it sold for $721,800, including buyer’s premium.

I’ve never won the lottery, but it has to be the same feeling. Congrats are in order. Well done! Had I been at that yard sale, I never would have even picked up the bowl. Knowledge is power. Even the knowledge to know you have to ask someone else. I do feel bad for the sellers who sold it at the yard sale. I hope the buyer would consider going back to offer a reward.

Click here if you want to see the lot described in Sotheby’s catalog. Click here if you want to read CNN’s writeup.