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Poster Auctions International's 80th Rare Posters Auction earns $1.9M
Alphonse Mucha, Precious Stones, 1902 ($192,000).

NEW YORK, NY.- Poster Auctions International’s first sale of the year, on February 23rd, finished at $1.9 million in sales. Auction LXXX demonstrated fervent passion for posters of all eras and styles.

Jack Rennert, President of PAI, was thrilled with bidders’ avid interest in a wide range of works. “Works by Alphonse Mucha and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec are always highly sought-after, as exhibited in this auction’s record sales for designs by these artists,” Mr. Rennert said. “But we were pleasantly surprised to see a similarly impassioned interest in lesser known works, including posters that we have never had at auction before.”

Mucha’s enduring esteem reached a fever pitch with his incredibly rare—and incredibly opulent—Precious Stones from 1902. The four decorative panels each personify a different gemstone, and this larger format version is exceedingly scarce: only three or four full sets are known to exist. Fervent bidding amounted to a final sale of $192,000 (all prices include sales premiums).

Precious Stones not only claimed the top sale at auction, but also set a new world record for sales of this work. The passion for Mucha continued with his iconic 1896 The Seasons; the four idyllic decorative panels were won for $45,600. Also, his celestial 1896 design for Sarah Bernhardt, La Dame aux Camelias was claimed for $31,200. Clearly, Mucha’s appeal only grows with time.

The prestige of the Belle Epoque continued with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec; the top sale from this Art Nouveau master was his joyous 1894 Confetti, which received $40,800. His incredibly rare 1893 Les Vieilles Histoires sparked interest from multiple parties, leading to a winning bid of $31,200, against an estimate of $14,000-$17,000.

For the father of the poster—Jules Chéret—sales were similarly ardent. His 1897 Folies-Bergère / Loïe Fuller has not been at auction since 2012, and collectors vied for the win. Estimated at $5,000-$6,000, the work earned a total of $16,800.

Fans of Art Deco also contributed to enthusiastic activity on auction day. Leonetto Cappiello’s works are always quite popular, but this time, a maquette stole the show. His 1927 preparatory work for Cognac Monnet, estimated at $30,000-$40,000, achieved a final bid of $52,800. His rare works also wooed collectors: the ebullient 1911 Florio / S.O.M. garnered an $18,000 win, easily surpassing its estimate of $7,000-9,000, while the 1902 Champagne de Rochegré topped out at $9,600, against an estimate of $5,000-$6,000.

Jean Dupas caught collectors’ attention with two impressive Art Deco works: his indomitable Bal des Étudiants / Alhambra-8 Janvier 1927 earned a $43,200 sale; and his 1929 Spring Fashions Are Here!, which employs a similar otherworldly aesthetic, was won for $6,600. Charles Loupot also made an impact, especially with his 1939 maquette, St. Raphaël, which garnered $28,800. His 1921 PKZ / Burger-Kehl & C. surpassed its estimate of $12,000-$15,000 for a win of $20,400. Another legend of the era, Walter Schnackenberg, delighted viewers with his dream-like Deutsches Theater, which was won for $15,600, against an estimate of $8,000-$10,000.

At the beginning of the auction, Black Images from the collection of Keith Williams were offered. By far the most impressive sale from this section was a rare 1918 image, Colored Man is No Slacker. Both tender and political, this recruitment ad to enlist black soldiers held sway over bidders; the competitive action quickly passed the estimated $800-$1,000 for a sweeping victory of $12,000. Similar zest was exhibited for Pogédaieff’s graphic 1931 design, Joséphine Baker, which was claimed for $10,200, against an estimate of $4,000-$5,000.

Rarities continued to transfix collectors, as with Philibert’s 1921 Clair de Lune / Michelin of two Bibendums hitching a ride—the design, featured on the auction’s catalogue cover, won a sweeping $13,200, though estimated at $4,000-$5,000. Orazi’s ethereal Théâtre de Loïe Fuller, from 1900, garnered a $33,500 sale, against an estimate of $20,000-$25,000. The similarly rapturous circa 1895 Cycles Gladiator, by an anonymous artist, secured the same amount.

American designers had their moment in the limelight as well. Fans of San Francisco rock posters were taken with Randy Tuten’s 1970 Jefferson Airplane / Quicksilver Messenger / Santana (‘Winterland’) for a benefit concert to bail out the Grateful Dead after their New Orleans arrest. Estimated at $2,000-$2,500, it earned $4,800. A rare circa 1910 design, Buffalo Bill & Pawnee Bill / A Sioux Chief, by an anonymous designer, claimed $7,800 against an estimate of $2,500-$3,000. Penfield’s 1898 Golf Calendar appealed to many a golf enthusiast, and its $10,000-$12,000 estimate was swiftly surpassed for a win of $21,600. Clearly, a variety of collectors’ interests were satisfied by Rare Posters LXXX.

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