NEW YORK.- Record crowds visited the 18th annual Haughton International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show, which ran from October 20-26, 2006 at the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York City . Sixty-five dealers from three continents presented nearly a billion dollars worth of the finest and most important all strictly vetted - art and antiques on the market today, from antiquities to contemporary.
Exhibitors at the International are accustomed to seeing an impressive clientele pass through the fair, and this year was no exception with existing buyers supplemented generously by newcomers. Sales were plentiful, with prices starting at around $1000 and rising well into seven figures. Even so, business undertaken at a fair can never be assessed too literally, as sales sometimes taking months to finalise. That said, a number of dealers enjoyed an excellent fair, selling a very high proportion of the material on offer on their respective stands.
The exceptionally glamorous Opening Night Gala Preview (Thursday, October 19) for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center , held for the 18th year in a row, raised nearly $1m for the charity. Over one thousand partygoers packed the aisles of the Armory, under the aegis of Chairwomen Joanne de Guardiola and Susan Malloy. High profile guests included Donald and Melania Trump, Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky, Martha Stewart and her daughter Alexis, Thom Filicia, Lydia and Anne Hearst, Jay McInerney, MSNBC anchor Rita Cosby and Steven Spielberg.
There were both private and institutional buyers at the fair, with curators from museums and private collections much in evidence throughout its duration. In total nearly 100 museums curators attended, from institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Gallery (Washington, DC), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Frick Collection, The Guggenheim Museum, The Detroit Institute of Art, The Wallace Collection, Wadsworth Atheneum, Princeton Art Museum and the Fogg Art Museum .
For the organizers, Brian Haughton said: The collectors who attend our fairs are generally highly sophisticated in their taste and are often extremely knowledgeable, but the vetting process, which we introduced to fairs in America in 1989, is an invaluable resource that gives buyers the extra security that they can buy with confidence. We believe our vetting committee members, some of the most prestigious experts in the world, continue to maintain the most stringent conditions in the industry.
Naturally, some of the more bullish segments of the market enjoyed frantic buying. Twentieth century furniture and works of art were extremely popular with exhibitors such as John Alexander (Philadelphia), Maison Gerard (New York), Maroun H. Salloum (Paris) and Vallois (Paris) all reporting buoyant sales.
John Alexander Ltd: after spectacular success at the 2005 International British Arts & Crafts dealer John Levitties of John Alexander reported another excellent fair, with keen interest in pieces made by artists and architects of the Cotswold School : "We were very pleased to see so many pieces find new homes with several being acquired by interior designers for their clients. These included Ann Pyne's purchase of a (circa 1910) dropped leaf table from Cotswold School talent Arthur Romney Green; a chest of drawers by Russell Gordon (1929); two Cotswold School candlesticks of hand-wrought steel and a pair of "Gimson" armchairs from the Cotswold School workshop. The furniture sold for five figures and most went to private clients
Maison Gerard always put together a stylish stand, offering fine French Art Deco from the 1920s-40s. They sold a rare gilt-carved wood bench by Maurice Dufresne (1876-1955) from the mid-twenties, upholstered with its original Beauvais tapestry designed by Jean Beaumont, for around $50,000. It is thought to be from a set which belonged to Andy Warhol. They also sold an important set of Jules Leleu furniture, circa 1945, which sold to a private buyer.
Maroun H. Salloum sold a superb pair of sconces by Guglielmo Ulrich (1940) and textiles by Mariano Fortuny, 1906 (they are to be sent for approval at the Fortuny Foundation in Venice ). Vallois, the renowned French Art Deco specialist, had sold much of their stand by the beginning of the third day. Sales include a highly coveted Jean Dunand vase in patinated metal and silver from 1921 (in the region of $300,000), which sat inside a stunning Ruhlmann library, (also sold). They also parted with a group of tables and sculpture by Diego Giacometti and their piece de resistance: a pair of lamps by Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann in silvered bronze and glass pearls, circa 1920/22 which sold for $375,000.
Leading London furniture dealers such as Apter-Fredericks Ltd, Jeremy Ltd and Ronald Phillips Ltd, specializing in the finest English furniture and furnishings of the 18th and 19th centuries, also all enjoyed strong sales.
Apter-Fredericks stand attracted attention as one of the most eye-catching of the entire fair and sales this year were also exceptional. Guy Apter commented that if the 2005 fair was their best ever, this years fair topped that. They were selling across the board from small works of art to furniture and up into the high six figures, and through to the closing minutes of the fair. Quality, private provenance and competitive pricing are, he said, vital in todays market. One of the larger prices close to $500,000 - was paid for a George III (c.1775) sycamore, rosewood and marquetry commode formerly in the collection of Sunlight Soap magnate Lord Leverhulme (1851-1925), who had purchased it from the well-known London firm of Moss Harris. The commode was included in the 5 day posthumous auction of Leverhulmes vast collection held in 1926.
Michael Hill of Jeremy was very pleased, reporting an extremely good fair, selling mainly furniture but also a few highly important works of art and making many new contacts particularly amongst private buyers. Their most important and valuable pieces (six figure prices) sold, all items of superb quality, fresh to the market with private provenance. In particular, a very important pair of George III armchairs and a unique late 18th century ships chronometer, which sold for a very large sum.
Brian Haughton Antiques ( London ) specialize in English and continental 18th and 19th century ceramics, with prices rising into six figures. They had also had a very good fair, selling from opening night onwards and mostly to new private (American) clients. Two of their top items sold: a pair of rare and seemingly unrecorded Meissen ormolu-mounted models of jays (circa 1745) (one illustrated on the catalogue cover) and a pair of exceptionally rare, early Chantilly white tin-glazed porcelain figures of basket-carriers, one an oriental and the other a European, formerly in the celebrated collection of Comte Xavier de Chavagnac. There were also interesting developments in other categories. Ornamental Regency porcelain - in the doldrums for the past five years - was suddenly in favour again, with examples selling to two private buyers (one from the UK ). Another strong area was English majolica, with new collectors also purchasing in the field of 18th century English porcelain.
London dealers Alistair Sampson Antiques and Jonathan Horne (Sampson & Horne), offering 17th-19th century English pottery and delftware, furniture and works of art saw steady business right up to the close of the fair, with sales in the $1000-150,000 range. At Alistair Sampson Antiques, a delighted Christopher Banks reported that one collector was so taken with the 19th century naïve school watercolours of children decorating two walls of their stand, that she bought the lot there and then.