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Original gouache watercolor painting by Alexander Calder soars to $114,000 at A.B. Levy's auction
Gouache on paper by Alexander Calder (1898-1976), titled Red and Blue Egg ($114,000).

PALM BEACH, FL.- An original gouache (opaque watercolor) painting by renowned artist Alexander Calder (Am./Fr., 1898-1976), titled Red and Blue Egg, signed in the artist’s hand and dated 1969, sold for $114,000 at a two-session auction held May 5th by A.B. Levy’s, in the firm’s main gallery located at 211 Worth Avenue. In all, over 450 quality lots were offered.

The Calder piece was the superstar of the fine art category. Impressive at 29 inches by 42 inches, the work on paper attracted attention because it was an original, not a lithograph, and for its whimsical and colorful qualities. Calder was famous as a sculptor, best known for his kinetic abstract mobiles. But he was also a skilled painter who worked in watercolors, oils and gouache.

A standing room only crowd packed A.B. Levy’s gallery, with all 80 seats taken and the spillover forced to participate standing. In addition, over 500 people registered to bid online, via and through the A.B. Levy’s website ( The phones were also active and absentee bidding was brisk in an auction that grossed about $1.14 million.

“We were excited that the top lots did so well, and the same was true of the less expensive items,” said Albert Levy of A.B. Levy’s. “The middle market merchandise didn’t fare quite as well, but overall it was still a successful auction. There’s a real hunger out there for quality items – the best of the best – and this sale demonstrated that. We were very pleased.”

Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a buyer’s premium of 20 percent for up to $100,000 and 15 percent after that.

The top lot of the sale was a Cartier diamond ring, centered by a cut cornered rectangular modified starburst cut fancy intense yellow diamond weighing 6.01 carats and boasting VS2 clarity. Flanking the main stone were trillion cut diamonds, weighing about 1.23 carats. The size 6 ¾ ring – mounted in platinum with 18kt yellow prongs – slipped on a new finger for $182,000.

Two works of fine art realized identical selling prices of $12,000. The first was a piece by noted glassblowing artist Dale Chihuly (Am., b. 1941), consisting of five “Persian” glass pieces in amparo blue with red lip wrap (circa 1999). The other was a lithograph in colors on Arches paper by Marc Chagall (Fr./Russ., 1887-1985), titled Les Mimosas (1968), signed by the artist.

In the furniture category, a late 19th or early 20th century mahogany marquetry and parquetry bureau a cylindre (a desk with a front of curved quarter-circle form), made in Paris after the model by Jean-Henri Riesner and numbered 100, garnered $36,000; and a late 19th century Paul Sormani Louis XV-style ormolu-mounted amaranth and bois satin bureau plat (French flat-topped writing table with drawers to the frieze) with signed lock plate, hit $14,400.

Satsuma (early ceramics produced at the port of Satsuma, Japan, often with a crackle glaze) was a big hit with bidders. Two Yabu Meizan Satsuma vases, both signed and made in the Meiji Period (late 19th century) were sold as separate lots for $21,600 and $11,070. The costlier vase was taller (7 inches, vs. 5 inches) and was of globular form (vs. rectangular tapered form).

In the antique clocks category, a fine Louis XV-style gilt-bronze and champlevé enamel mounted onyx and marble tall case clock, circa 1900-1925, rose to $14,400.

Fine watches included a Cartier 18kt yellow gold Tank Americaine ladies’ wristwatch with rectangular silvered dial and Roman numeral indicators on an 18kt yellow gold link bracelet with a deployment buckle ($10,200); and a Swiss Piaget 18kt white gold “Dancer” automatic wristwatch with 38mm silver brush dial and applied markers, on a Piaget bracelet ($10,800).

Noteworthy carved creations included a pair of Italian carved, painted and gilt female figures made in the 18th century and each showing a semi-nude maiden holding floral and fruit bouquets on a torch base, 61 inches tall ($24,000); and a pair of Italian carved marble black figures (blackamoor) depicting a man and woman, each on a raised circular pedestal ($12,000).

Jumping to jewelry, a size 9 ¾ platinum and diamond gentleman’s ring with one bezel set round brilliant cut diamond, weighing 3.45 carats, with VS1 clarity and 23.3 dwt, hit $24,000; a Versace 18kt yellow gold, diamond and emerald necklace set with 135 round cut diamonds and weighing 4.46 carats, breezed to $22,800; and a Verscae 18kt gold diamond and emerald bracelet with three “Mask of Medusa” emblems and set with 117 round cut diamonds rose to $XX,XXX.

A fine diamond and sapphire necklace set with diamonds weighing approximately 14.50 carats, having G color and VS1 clarity and 25 sapphires weighing around 14.39 carats, went for $15,600; and a signed Lambert 14kt yellow gold and diamond ring, set with three fine European cut round diamonds and a center stone weighing 1.50 carats, with a 5 dwt, commanded $12,000.

Rounding out the day’s top lots, a fine pair of circa-1840 French Le Page (Paris) cased percussion pistols, engraved “Deismas D’Acier” and with a complete accessory set and fine presentation box, rang out at $30,000; a Hermes black crocodile 32cm “Kelly” bag (Paris), with gold hardware, reached $30,000; and a 19th century continental carved ivory tusk made $18,000.

A.B. Levy’s next big auction will also be a two-session event, slated for Sunday, Oct. 27, again at the Worth Avenue showroom in Palm Beach, starting at 1 p.m. (EST). Featured will be estate jewelry, artwork, fine china, antique clocks and other antiques in many categories. Already consigned is a great collection of 19th century Chinese red coral that is certain to garner attention.

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Original gouache watercolor painting by Alexander Calder soars to $114,000 at A.B. Levy's auction

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