Some expensive material did sell:
Lot 81. John James Audubon’s Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. Estimated at $600,000 to $700,000 it brought $793,000
Lot 138E. John Gould’s and Richard Bowdler Sharpe’s The Birds of Asia. Estimated at $140,000 to $180,000 it brought $195,200
Lot 35. John James Audubon’s Plate 1: Wild American Turkey C. Aquatint from “Birds of America.” Estimated $125,000 to $175,000 it brought $170,800
Lot 138G. John Gould and Richard Bowdler Sharpe’s The Birds of New Guinea and the adjacent Papuan islands, including many new species recently discovered in Australia. It was estimated $30,000 to $40,000 and brought $146,400
Lot 58. John James Audubon’s Plate 431: American Flamingo. Aquatint from “The Birds of America.” It was estimated $100,000 to $120,000 and brought $115,900
About the sale, both an official of an uninvolved auction house and a dealer competitor mentioned that two basic rules of auctions had been violated in this sale. Material on offer is usually displayed together both for easy and anonymous inspection that does not require interaction with a consignor’s staff. In this sale, material to be viewed had to be requested and then brought out. Further, such viewing is almost always away from the seller because potential bidders and their representatives as a matter of general practice do not want to be known to be interested. Neutral viewing it turns out is an important element in the auction process.
One other aspect was noted. The bibliographic details of the items offered were complete but their selling narratives lacking. To sell to dealers basic details are often enough because professionals usually understand item significance. But this sale was decidedly oriented to institutions and collectors and these communities first buy the story and then the item.
For Mr. Arader, who has periodically sold at auction—at Sotheby’s in 2004 and at Neal Auctions more recently—this was an audacious undertaking. As a sale it succeeded, as an auction it didn’t work well enough. He, post-sale, expressed his commitment to continue to sell at auction, the what, where and how-to to in time be decided. As to when he’s already thinking about early May.
I myself purchased two items in expensive frames; lot 214, Map of the Hudson between Sandy Hook & Sandy Hill; and lot 215, The Hudson by Daylight published by Wm. F. Link in 1878. They together cost $2,100 plus commissions. In the shop they had been priced at $12,000 and in the sale estimated $7,000 to $9,000. They were wonderful buys as were many other items. But to buy you had to participate and for this sale not enough bidders did.