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Henry Moore bronze among prized works in Palm Beach Modern's March 22 auction of art and modern design
Tom Wesselman (American, 1931-2004), lithograph of nude, 40 x 30in, artist-signed and numbered 19/75. Est. $5,000-$7,000. Palm Beach Modern Auctions image.

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA.- A formidable lineup of celebrities has made headlines at Palm Beach Modern Auctions (PBMA) over the past year, from the late Steve Rubell and his glitzy Studio 54 clique to fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld. On Saturday, March 22nd, however, the focus will turn from collections associated with pop-culture personalities to the superstars of modern and contemporary art and furniture design. In their 470-lot auction, PBMA will showcase such eminent names as Henry Moore, Piero Fornasetti, Vladimir Kagan, and Phillip & Kelvin LaVerne.

“We’re very excited about the selection in this, our last winter sale of the year,” said PBMA auctioneer Rico Baca. “The art category is very strong, and we’ll be offering a second grouping of sculptures from the estate of New York sculptor Larry Mohr.”

There was great interest in the five Mohr estate artworks consigned to PBMA’s November 2nd auction, Baca said. An accomplished sculptor whose figural and abstract works are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Georgia Museum of Art and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University, Mohr (1921-2013) left much of his personal collection to art institutions.

“Bidders on the Mohr sculptures in our November auction were very competitive. Now they’ll have a second chance,” said Baca.

In the March 22 sale there are seven Mohr works of bronze, copper or silver. Each is modestly estimated at $1,000-$2,000. Although of a smaller scale than those sold in November, they are nonetheless quintessential Mohr designs, some featuring interesting interlocking segments that render a feeling of movement. “I could certainly envision them on a Kagan buffet,” Baca noted.

Speaking of Vladimir Kagan (b. 1927-), Lot 234A is a superb outside-the-box example of the German/American furniture designer’s work. The lot consists of a Model No. 175F abstract walnut and black leather contour rocking chair with matching ottoman. The duo will cross the auction block with a $5,000-$8,000 estimate.

Four creations by Piero Fornasetti (Italian, 1913-1988) are included in the sale: two mirrors, an umbrella stand, and Lot 144, a rare and whimsical lollipop-form graphic floor lamp with the face of the beautiful Italian opera singer Lina Cavalieri (1874-1944). Standing 75 inches tall, it carries a presale estimate of $10,000-$15,000.

Another premier lighting entry is Lot 104, a Serge Mouille (French, 1922-1988) “Simple” floor lamp. Designed from enameled metal and brass and having an adjustable shade with an aerodynamic attitude, the lamp is an ultra-sophisticated expression of understated design. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000.

Lot 22, a rare Phillip (1907-1987) & Kelvin (b. 1937) LaVerne freeform Odyssey II cocktail table stands on double bronze pedestals with a patinated bronze, pewter and enamel surface etched with scenes from Homer’s The Odyssey. Having the trademark look of the revered American designers, the table was purchased directly from the LaVernes’ gallery in 1967. At the time of the purchase, Phillip LaVerne told the consignor that only one other freeform Odyssey cocktail table had been made – for shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. Odyssey II is estimated at $20,000-$30,000.

Described by Baca as “an object of lust for years,” Lot 435 is a monumental cobalt blue pottery sculpture by Jun Kaneko (Japanese, b. 1942-) shaped as an irregular sphere. For many years, the sculpture has been part of the collection at the Ann Norton Sculpture Garden in West Palm Beach.

“We’ve always admired this work by Kaneko and, over the years, had made no secret of the fact that we would love to auction it on behalf of the sculpture garden. We’re thrilled that they’ve now chosen to deaccession the piece, which is quite a major artwork, in more ways than one,” Baca said. “It’s 65 inches high, 65 inches wide and 48 inches deep. It’s also very heavy. After it was made, it took a full year for it to dry.” Before the sculpture could be delivered to the auction center, it had to be lifted by crane and placed onto a flatbed trailer. When it arrived, it was removed by a forklift and positioned inside the building. “It’s the first thing you see when you walk inside,” Baca said. The sculpture is expected to make $17,000-$25,000 at auction.

The top-estimated artwork is Lot 166A, a Henry Moore OM CH FBA RBS (English, 1898-1986) bronze titled Mother and Child with Tree Trunk. Signed and numbered 6/9, the 9in high by 9.5in wide sculpture comes with provenance from Galeria Freites, Caracas, and a subsequent private collection. It is referenced in Henry Moore Complete Sculpture, 1980-86, Vol. 5, No. 770, by Alan Bowness, and carries a $60,000-$80,000 estimate.

From the same consignor comes Lot 256A, a Fernando Botero (Colombian, b. 1932-) pencil-on-paper still life titled Nicaragua Banana. Artist-signed and dated 1973, the 20 by 36in (sight) artwork is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Marlborough Galleries Inc. Its estimate has been set at $25,000-$30,000.

Lot 181, a painted wall sculpture of constructed form is dated 1997 and titled Windows On The World. Measuring 31 by 54.5 inches, it is signed by artist Patrick Hughes (English, b. 1939-) and retails a label on verso from Angela Flowers Gallery PLC, London. “We expect this work to do very well, since Patrick Hughes is very collectible in South Florida.” Estimate: $25,000-$30,000.

Aptly titled Small and Beautiful: The Issue of Scale, Lot 188 is a painting on canvas by Sam Francis (American, 1923-1994). In bold shades of yellow and cobalt blue with green and black accents, the 5.5in high by 8.5in wide painting retains a gallery label from Eaton Fine Art Inc., Florida. It is entered in the sale with a $25,000-$35,000 estimate.

Also worthy of note is Lot 75, a Tom Wesselman (American, 1931-2004) lithograph of a nude, signed and numbered 19/75. The 40 by 30in work is estimated at $5,000-$7,000.

Palm Beach Modern’s March 22 auction will be held at the company’s exhibition center at 417 Bunker Rd., West Palm Beach, FL 33405, commencing at 12 noon Eastern Time. Internet live bidding will be available through or Preview 10-5 Mon.-Fri. during the week prior to the sale; or from 9 a.m. till noon on auction day. Contact: 561-586-5500,

Visit Palm Beach Modern Auctions online at View the fully illustrated auction catalog at or

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