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I.M. Chait's auction highlights from first half of 2018 confirm quality
Anna Mary Robertson aka Grandma Moses (American, 1860-1961), Halloween, signed and dated July 7, 1958. Sold May 20, 2018 for $100,000 against an estimate of $30,000-$40,000. All images provided by I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.- Founded in 1969 by Asian art expert Isadore M. “Izzy” Chait, I.M. Chait Gallery & Auctioneers conducts approximately 20 auctions per year, with estimates that range from one hundred to one million dollars. And while the family-owned business is most closely associated with high-end Asian art and antiques, I.M. Chait has seen its profile rise this year with successes in jewelry, watches, antiquities and fine art of the Western world.

In particular, Chait made headlines with its May 20 International Fine Arts Auction featuring a collection of five select paintings by the beloved American folk artist Anna Mary Robertson (1860-1961), better known as Grandma Moses. All of the artworks had provenance from Hammer Galleries, where they were exhibited in 1964-65.

“It was the first time we had ever auctioned paintings by Grandma Moses, and it was quite a thrill for us, since her work is so coveted but rarely appears in the marketplace. Any major East Coast auction house would have jumped at the chance to sell them,” said I.M. Chait auctioneer Jake Chait. “We had no doubt that we would secure stellar prices for the paintings because we have a very large global clientele of sophisticated art buyers who recognize excellence and buying opportunities in many categories.”

Leading the Grandma Moses grouping was a signed and titled oil-on-Masonite work titled Halloween. The lively portrayal of Halloween-related activities on a quintessential New England farm exceeded expectations by a country mile, garnering 23 bids and selling for $100,000 against a $30,000-$40,000 estimate.

Following at $75,000 (est. $25,000-$35,000) was the artist’s wintry landscape titled Oxen, showing a pair of hitched bovines standing by patiently as two men boil maple sap. Yet another Grandma Moses highlight was Baking Bread, which, as the title suggests, depicted a communal effort with many cooks working near a wood-burning stove in a country kitchen. Estimated at $25,000-$35,000, it achieved $59,375.

Estimate-defying prices continued with the sale of an important Egyptian 19th Dynasty serpentine ushabti with an inscription that translated as: “The enlightened, the chief of the soldiers, Pa-Ser.” It sold for $36,600, more than triple the high estimate.

Predictably high prices were recorded for Asian art entered in the sale. For example, a 57 by 37¾-inch oil painting by Le Pho (Vietnamese/French, 1907-2001), whose popularity has been on the rise, made $56,250 against an estimate of $18,000-$22,000. The interest in Le Pho’s work continued in Chait’s July 29 International Fine Arts Auction, where a stunning painting on silk titled Le Vase Blanc, with a 1966 certificate of provenance from Findlay Galleries Inc., swept past its $14,000-$18,000 estimate to settle at $24,400.

A signed oil-on-panel painting by Paul Seignac (French, 1826-1904) titled Christmas Morning came to the auction block with distinguished provenance, including the Eugene Iglesias collection and Christie’s New York. It sold via the Internet for $20,000, four times its high estimate. Also, an atmospheric waterscape by Harry Aiken Vincent titled Gloucester Harbor completed its bidding run at $15,860.

The enduring popularity of the Addams Family was validated by the $22,500 price paid for a Charles Addams (American, 1912-1988) illustration of Morticia Addams gazing at a wall lined with portraits of eccentric characters, including Uncle Fester. Inscribed and signed by the artist, the 17- by 13-inch ink, wash and gouache on paper commanded $22,500 against an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.

“Our May and July International Fine Arts Auctions served to reinforce two very important points that apply no matter what the state of the economy may be, whether booming or sluggish,” said Jake Chait. “First, quality sells. Secondly, trustworthy provenance can often be the factor that inspires bidder confidence. If bidders know that an artwork was previously owned by a respected party and that it is being offered by an auction company with expertise and a proven track record, it will spark much greater competition.”

Jake’s father, Isadore Chait, remarked that he is “extremely proud” of the way Jake has approached his new role as auctioneer. “Jake grew up in the family business and has both a vast amount of knowledge about the antiques and art we sell and a natural aptitude for how an auction house should be run. He learned at an early age that the customer always comes first, whether it is the consignor or the buyer. Now that same principle has become the cornerstone of Jake’s own business style.”

I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers is currently accepting consignments for a Sept. 30, 2018 International Fine Arts Auction and Nov. 18, 2018 Fine Art Auction. To discuss consigning, call 310-285-0182 or email

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August 30, 2018

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