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Sotheby's American Art Auction totals $28.1 million in New York
John Singer Sargent, Marionettes. Painted in 1903. Estimate $5/7 million. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- For a third consecutive season, Sotheby’s American Art auction has surpassed its pre-sale expectations – today’s auction totaled $28,087,750, above a high estimate of $24.4 million*, and sold a strong 83.9% by lot. Highlights included:

• The enduring strength of the market for works by Norman Rockwell was felt throughout the sale – the six examples on offer together sold for an impressive $6.5 million, more than double their overall high estimate of $3 million. Seven bidders battled for He’s Going to Be Taller than Dad, a domestic scene of a boy and his faithful dog that fetched $2,629,000 (est. $500/700,000).

• This follows Sotheby’s November 2012 sale of American Art in which five works by Rockwell totaled $6.1 million, again demonstrating the continued appetite for works by the American icon.

• The top lot of the auction was John Singer Sargent’s Marionettes from 1907, which achieved $5,205,000 (est. $5/7 million). The highly personal painting remained in the artist’s collection for more than 20 years before descending through his family to the present owner.

• New world auction records were established for Milton Avery, William Keith and Irving Ramsey Wiles. Avery’s Music Makers, on offer from the estate of screen star Gregory Peck and his wife Veronique, achieved $2,965,000 – double its $1.5 million high estimate.

• Together with three pieces offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale earlier this month, works from the Peck Estate have totaled $6.4 million at Sotheby’s this spring.

• Seven works emerging from important American museums together brought $2.9 million, including Stanton Macdonald-Wright’s Trumpet Flowers that sold for $785,000 (est. $400/600,000). The painting was sold by the Museum of Modern Art to benefit the acquisitions fund, and was fittingly purchased by another East Coast museum. Frederic Remington’s Call the Doctor, sold by the Art Institute of Chicago, led the group with a price of $1,085,000 (est. $1/1.5 million).

• Several Western paintings and sculpture smashed expectations at the close of the sale: a heated competition drove William Keith’s canvas Yosemite Valley to sell for $755,000, against a high estimate of $90,000; An Enemy That Warns, a bronze sculpture by Charles Marion Russell measuring just 5¼ inches tall, flew past its $60,000 high estimate on its way to achieving $460,000; and Henry Merwin Shrady’s bronze Monarch of the Plains brought $197,000, more than triple its high estimate of $60,000.

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