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Selections from The Allan Stone Collection


7 PM, November 12, 2007

Sale 2104

"Untitled" by Chamberlain


Lot 601 (foreground) "Untitled" by John Chamberlain, 1963, painted tin and wood, 5 x 3 x 4 inches; Lot 661, "Untitled," by Willem de Kooning, 1942, oil on board, 45 x 47 inches, and Lot 643, "Chair," by Josep M Jujol, 1911, tropical hardwood, painted wrought iron, 34 inches high, &

By Michele Leight

"Selections from The Allen Stone Collection," including several breathtaking paintings by Willem de Kooning, is a memorable highlight of Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art sale week that it kicks off November 12, 2007. It is extremely rare for a collection of this quality and range to come to auction, offering a glimpse of a truly unique "New York" collector, whose confidence and connoisseur's eye was equaled by his extraordinary eclecticism, bravado and sophistication.

Folding screen by Gaudi

Lot 628, Two-part Folding Screen from Casa Mila, by Antoni Gaudi, 1909, oak and frosted glass, 77 high, one 79 inches wide, the other 70 inches wide

Designed in 1911 by Josep M. Jujol for the Botiga Manach, Barcelona, the tropical hardwood, painted wrought iron chair, Lot 643, featured at the top of this story was recently exhibited at "Barcelona and Modernity: Picasso, Gaudi, Miro Dali" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, together with Antoni Gaudi's extraordinary "Two-part Folding Screen from Casa Mila," Lot 628). Lot 643 has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $769,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. The price was a world auction for the artist. The screen has an estimate $1,500,000 to $2,500,000. It sold for $1,385,000, shattering the previous auction record of $61,638 set at Sotheby's in Paris last May. Displayed in close proximity to each other at Christie's, both sculptural pieces follow the sensuous curves of Lot 661, Willem de Kooning's beautiful "Untitled," an iconic early work by the artist, painted in 1942, with an estimate of $6,000,000 to $10,000,000. It sold for $5,305,000, the highest price in the sale.

The sale was very successful with 90 percent of the 71 offered lots selling for a total of $52,423,400 including buyers' premiums. the pre-sale estimate without buyers' premiums was $40,300,000 to $59,200,000.

"Man" by de Kooning

Lot 609, "Man," by Willem de Kooning, 1967, oil on paper, with thumbtacks laid down on paper, 56 x 44 inches

Lusciously rendered in oil, "Man," Lot 609, by Willem de Kooning, was exhibited at "Willem de Kooning: Liquefying Cubism," at the Allan Stone Gallery in October 1994-January 1995, together with Lot 641, "Study for Marshes," another sublime early work on paper mounted on panel, executed in 1945-46, give some idea of the quality of paintings Stone collected, the latter long before de Kooning became famous. Lot 609 has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It sold for $4,521,000. Lot 641 has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $4,297,000.

"Blue Hill" by Thiebaud

Lot 633, "Blue Hill," by Wayne Thiebaud, 1967, acrylic and pastel on canvas, 77 x 95 7/8 inches

In the 1960s, the Allan Stone Gallery exhibited new artists like Richard Estes and Wayne Thiebaud, whose atmospheric "Blue Hill," Lot 633, with gorgeous striations of pastel and acrylic, that must be seen to be fully appreciated. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $1,721,000. By breaking new ground and paving the way for innovative thinking, buying, and dealing in art - and enjoying diverse art forms in the process - connoisseurs like Allan Stone inspired and emboldened future generations of art collectors to reach beyond the obvious.

Bugatti desk and "Woman with Dodecahedron" by Graham

Lot 605, Double-Sided Desk by Carlo Bugatti, (circa 1900), painted parchment, ebonized wood, pewter and brass inlay, hammered brass, bone on two sides with single frieze drawer flanked by cabinets containing three drawers, 31 inches high, 55 1/8 inches wide, 40 1/8 inches deep; Lot 667, "Woman with Dodecahedron," by John Graham, oil, chalk, wax crayon, pen and ink on board, 48 x 35 inches, 1959

Stand-outs include Lot 605, "Double-sided Desk," imaginatively designed by the legendary Carlo Bugatti, whose racing cars set the bar for performance that persists to this day, and which Allen Stone also collected. The desk has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $1,553,000, smashing the previous auction record for the artist of $132,000 set at Christie's in New York last December. Lot 667, John Graham's enigmatic "Woman with Dodecahedron," has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $1,609,000, setting a new auction record for the artist. The previous record was $431,500 set at Christie's in New York May 13, 1999. Lot 652, "A Fine Papuan Gulf Headdress," has an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It sold for $21,250.

Untitled by Kline

Lot 631, "Untitled," by Franz Kline, oil on paper, 10 x 10 inches, 1945

Martha Baer, International Director Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christies describes visiting Allan Stone's gallery in the 60s, in search of a major John Graham at the request of a client:

"As with every first time visitor to the gallery, I was bowled over by the enormous amount and quality of works crowding his office and gallery. I found several major Graham paintings to offer my client, but, most importantly, began a long friendship with one of the most generous, smart, infectiously enthusiastic, loyal and passionate members of the art world whose taste in works of art developed my own. He always had time to share his knowledge and passion."

Lot 637, "Cabinet," by Carlo Bugatti, 1898, ebonized wood, pewter and brass inlay, hammered brass, 71 in. high x 32 in high x 21 in deep, flanked by Lot 621, A Carved and Painted Tobacconist Figure of an Indian Warrior, & Lot 622, A Carved and Painted Tobacconist Figure of an Indian Princess, both attributed to Thomas V. Brooks (1860-1880), 70 inches high, 32 inches wide, 26 inches deep.

Allan Stone collected sublime paintings by other contemporary giants besides de Kooning - like Gorky, Franz Kline, Newman, Cornell and Graham in depth - long before they were famous, and this collection contains a diverse and important group of sculptures by John Chamberlain. Lot 631, "Untitled," by Franz Kline, has an estimate $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $109,000. Lot 646, "Untitled," 1951, has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $2,729,000.

"Selections from the Allen Stone Collection" encompass iconic Twentieth Century Contemporary art, design, Tribal and Folk Art, urban architectural artifacts - and anything that appealed to Allan Stone's extraordinary eye. While the collection is dominated by superb de Kooning's, there is something wonderful to be had in all price ranges - in true, democratic, New York spirit - including wonderful Americana, like the Carved and Painted Tobacconist Figures of an Indian Warrior, Lot 621, and Indian Princess, Lot 622, both estimated at $100,000-150,000, illustrated above with the "Cabinet" by Carlo Bugatti, (Lot 637, estimated at $80,000 to $120,000), circa 1898. Lot 621 sold for $217,000 and Lot 622 sold for $193,000.

oak presentation model of a train and painted barber pole

Lot 634, oak presentation model of the 4-0-0 Locomotive Alpha, 1860-1880, 24 inches high and 95 inches wide and 15 inches deep, and Lot 664, carved and painted Barber Pole, 1870-1900, 95 inches high by 10 inches in diameter

Beautifully displayed in a cozy gallery on the second floor that mirrors a New York scale residence similar to the one in which the collection was originally housed, it is easy to get a sense of the remarkable man who assembled, and lived surrounded by, such exceptional works of art. Clearly, he valued each painting, sculpture or artifact for its own sake, whether it was a de Kooning, or a quaint, patriotically painted barber's shop pole once used to attract the attention of potential customers, Lot 664, estimate $8,000 to $12,000, or Lot 634, "An Oak Presentation Model of the 4-0-0 Locomotive Alpha, which has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. The barber pole sold for $16,250. The train sold for $58,600.

Urhobo male figure and "Untitled (Rome series)" by de Kooning

Lot 638, A Magnificent Urhobo Male Figure, Nigeria, circa 1875, 67 1/5 inches high, left, and Lot 607, "Untitled, (Rome Series,)" by Willem de Kooning, alkyd and pumice on three attached sheets of paper mounted on canvas, 55 x 39 inches, 1959

Illustrated above is Lot 638, a potent Urhobo male figure from Nigeria, with traces of chalk enhancing the beautiful patina of the carved wood The figure is dated circa 1875 and is 67 1/5 inches high and has an estimate $300-500,000. It sold for $361,000. Equally powerful is Willem de Kooning's graphic "Untitled (Rome Series)," painted in 1959. The gritty, "alive," texture of the black enamel painting was achieved by adding powdered pumice stone. Lot 607, it measures 55 1/2 by 39 1/4 inches. It has an estimate of $350,000 to $450,000. It sold for $657,000.

The heavily textured oil painting, "Nix on Nixon," Lot 624, is by Alfred Leslie (b. 1927), and was exhibited in New York at The Museum of Modern Art's "Sixteen Americans," December 1959-February, 1960. An oil on canvas, it measures 72 by 79 inches and has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $385,000, setting a new auction record for the artist. It is displayed beside a winsome mixed media carving with cowry shell eyes, "A Fine Songye Figure," Lot 617, fashioned from wood, copper, cloth, hide and fur headdress with oily patina. The horn on the top of his head is echoed in the small figure attached to his left arm. The estimate is $150,000 to $250,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $110,000.

"Figures in a Landscape #2" by de Kooning and Kongo Nail figure

Lot 627, "Figures in a Landscape #2," by Willem de Kooning, 1976, oil on paper mounted on canvas, 30 x 35 inches, and Lot 608, A Fine Kongo Nail Fetish Figure, Democratic Republic of Congo

With one armed raised as if about to throw a spear, Lot 608 is an expressive, noble Kongo Nail Fetish figure with eyes inset with mirrors, and iron nails and blades piercing his torso. His expressive face is marked with kaolin and black paint, faded with time. The lot has an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. It was passed at $85,000. Lot 627, "Figures in a Landscape #2," by Willem de Kooning also features an expressive hand outlined in black in the lower right hand corner of the painting, among other body parts strewn across a luscious, fleshy landscape that reflected the artists move from New York City to more natural surroundings in East Hampton, Long Island. The oil on paper mounted on canvas measures 30 1/4 by 35 inches and has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It was passed at $1,800,000.

"Tie rack" by Thiebaud, Gilt horse weathervane, and "Untitled" by Michael Goldberg

Lot 620, "Tie Rack," by Wayne Thiebaud, oil on canvas, 72 x 36 inches, 1969; Lot 610, A Gilt Cast and Sheet Iron Horse Weathervane; Lot 612, "Untitled" by Michael Goldberg, oil on paper, 16 3/4 by 14 inches

The American Folk Art in this sale is absolutely wonderful, as illustrated above, Lot 610, "A Gilt and Cast and Sheet Iron Horse Weathervane," which has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000, is displayed with Wayne Thiebaud's juicy "Tie Rack," Lot 620, oil on canvas, 72 by 36 inches, estimate $1,400,000 to $1,800,000. The weathervane sold for $55,000. The tie rack painting sold for $3,401,000.

Molded gilt copper trade figure of a steer

Lot 660, "The Swift Meat Packing Company Molded Gilt Copper Trade Life-Size Figure of a Steer, circa 1903 in Christie's "Sol Lewitt" Lobby, Rockefeller Center, New York.

Lot 660, "The Swift Meat Packing Company Molded Gilt Copper Trade Life-Size Figure of a Steer," attributed to W. H. Mullins of Salem, Ontario, circa 1893, has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000 and makes its presence felt in Christie's "Sol Lewitt" lobby during the exhibition. It sold for $493,000.

One gets the sense from this collection that without the love of life, and the joy and enthusiasm of buying and selling art, it would be a meaningless endeavor for Allen Stone. His was an all-encompassing passion, and he reputedly bought more art than he sold! It is rare that a reviewer is eager to describe the majority of the works exhibited in any auction, as is the case here. There are simply too many to describe in one story, but they are all worthy of mention.

"Study for Marshes" by de Kooning, Sepic River male figure, "Still Life" by John Graham, armchair by Bugatti, "Hot Dog" by Thiebaud

From left to right, Lot 641, "Study for Marshes," by Willem de Kooning, oil and charcoal on paper, mounted on panel, 28 7/8 x 22 inches, 1945-6; Lot 647, "A Fine Sepic River Male Figure," New Guinea, 47 inches high; Lot 654, "Still Life" by John Graham, oil on canvas, 19 by 16 inches, 1941; "Armchair," by Carlo Bugatti, circa 1900, parchment, ebonized wood, hammered copper, pewter and bone inlay, bone; Lot 650, "Hot Dog with Mustard," by Wayne Thiebaud, oil on canvas, 10 x 12 inches, 1964

Illustrated above is one last "vignette" of a remarkable artistic sensibility, before the collection is dispersed forever, that encompassed a Wayne Thiebaud "Hot Dog," Lot 650, an oil on canvas that measures 10 by 12 inches and has an estimate of estimate of $600,000 to $800,000; a knock-out Bugatti-designed chair, circa 1900, Lot 654, which has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000; "A Fine Sepic River Male Figure," Lot 647, which has an estimate $120,000 to $180,000;, and Willem de Kooning's lyrical "Study for Marshes," Lot 641, an oil and charcoal on paper mounted on panel that measures 28 7/8 by 22 1/2 inches and is estimated at $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. Such exceptional juxtapositions are not found every day. The "hot dog" sold for $1,385,000. The Bugatti chair sold for $55,000. The Sepic River figure sold for $265,000. "Study for Marches" sold for $4,297,000.

Laura Paulsen and "Untitled" by de Kooning

Laura Paulsen, Senior International Director, and Deputy Chairman, America, Christies, with Willem de Kooning's "Untitled," Lot 661.

Laura Paulsen, Senior International Director and Deputy Chairman, America, organized this exceptional installation, bringing Allen Stone the collector alive for viewers on many different levels. Ms. Paulsen is photographed here with Willem de Kooning's 1942 oil on canvas, "Untitled," Lot 661, which sold for $5,305,000.

"Composition of Forms on Table" by Gorky

Lot 614, "Composition of Forms on Table," by Arshile Gorky, oil on canvas, 33 by 43 inches, 1928-9

Lot 614 is a vividly colored abstract composition by Arshile Gorky (1904-1948). An oil on canvas that measures 44 by 43 inches, it was painted in 1928-9. It has an estimate of $900,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $993,000 to Joseph Carroll.

Lot 639, "Hatband," by John Chamberlain sold for $2,841,000, more than double the artist's previous auction record.

Lot 642, "The Lanner Waltzes," by Joseph Cornell sold for $145,000, well over the artist's previous auction record of $84,000 for a work on paper.

Lot 644, "Untitled," by Michael Goldberg sold for $205,000, almost six times the artist's previous auction record.

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