Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2009 Issue

W. Graham Arader: "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated"

W.graham

W. Graham Arader III


By Bruce McKinney

On June 19th the most recent and certainly not final chapter of the Graham Arader story was written in the auction rooms at Sotheby's, as they conducted a 202 lot sale of selected inventory from the storied archives of W. Graham Arader of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and Madison Avenue in New York. The sale realized $3.26 million. No doubt, many dealers wished for the sale to fail and were deeply disappointed that it made a passable grade even as the economic downturn has taken hold. Whether it was an act of bravery or necessity is subject to interpretation and both admirers and detractors have their different views. That it was an exceptional outcome given the difficult environment is beyond dispute.

Mr. Arader commands the attention of the press. He has been the subject, for almost thirty years, of newspaper and magazine articles, the bickering of competitors and the admiration of clients. He is the subject of a Wikipedia page that includes articles about and references to him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Arader

Indicative of his larger than life personality and position in New York society the New York Observer, in March, writing about him and his New York City home had this to say:

"The legendary art dealer W. Graham Arader III, an eccentric maestro in the world of rare prints and antique maps, has cut the price of his seven-story, 10-bedroom, 22-room, 12,000-square-foot mansion at 1016 Madison Avenue from $75 million to $65 million. He now has only the second most expensive listing in New York: Aby Rosen's townhouse on East 71st Street is still asking $75 million."

His approach to the recent auction was vintage Graham Arader. He pledged 20% of the auction proceeds to charities of the buyer's choice. For institutions, this amounted to a discount of 20%, for well-healed successful bidders the chance to acquire appealing material and earn the appreciation of institutions and charities they designate.

In the run up to the sale the New York Times on June 18th addressed a rumor -

"Despite reports that he was closing his business, Graham Arader, a New York dealer in rare books, atlases, botanical prints and natural history watercolors, is just selling off inventory in Sotheby's sale on Friday of 200 of his holdings. A third of the lots will be sold without reserve, and Mr. Arader has pledged to donate 20 percent of each lot's hammer price to any recognized charity designated by the buyer."

Following the sale Mr. Arader released the following statement:

"With auction proceeds, sales after the auction and special sales in all of my galleries for the next month it appears that I am going to gross about $5,000,000 and hopefully give away $1,000,000 on top of that. Those funds will be distributed to the participating charities on July 23 at 1016 Madison Avenue at 4 pm to be followed by a dinner party at 6:30 for all institutions that participated (about 50) and for all people who acquired artwork at the sale and afterward. A list of the lots that sold with the charities to be benefited will be distributed at this event. Any charity that supported this new idea will be given a minimum of $1000 even if any buyers did not designate them. I hope that this will cover some of their costs of promotion for this new idea and encourage them to participate next year. It is very important that full disclosure be available for all parties to insure the continuation of this concept.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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