[UPDATED: June 19]
Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, calling from Christie’s auction of Clark estate treasures on Wednesday in New York, said it went “very well,” taking in $8.4 million, which was more than the auction house had expected.
Proceeds will go toward final settlement of the Huguette Clark estate, and what is left after that will go to Santa Barbara’s Bellosguardo art foundation, which is at the end of the line, settlement-wise, she said.
Results of the long-awaited auction of the famous “Kreutzer” Stradivarius, valued at between $7.5 million and $10 million by Christie’s before the sale, were not immediately released by the auction house. Considered the star of the show, the violin made by Antonio Stradivari in 1731, was played by Huguette Clark years ago, but was found on a closet shelf in her New York apartment after she died.
Violinist Joshua Bell has praised its “rich, warm quality.”
About 70 bidders, including members of the Clark family, filled the room, and others called in from Australia, Canada, and Switzerland, Schneider told The Santa Barbara Independent. “It was very busy,” she said. “The mood was upbeat” at the seven-hour sale.
John Singer Sargent’s oil painting “Girl Fishing at San Vigilio” went for $4.3 million. Huguette Clark’s own paintings did “very well,” Schneider said, one selling for $19,000. Among the paintings that sold was a portrait of Huguette as a young woman at her easel, apparently painting a nude man with his back turned. The painting is by her friend Tadeusz Styka. The 17 paintings by Clark herself sold for a total of $142,625.
A first edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass went for $305,000, the top price ever for a Whitman book, Schneider said.
It’s not known if any Santa Barbarans bought items, although several billionaires reportedly flew to the sale.
Seascapes by Lionel Walden fetched about $200,000 more than Christie’s original estimates.
[UPDATE: June 19]
The “Kreutzer” Stradivari violin offered for sale at the auction failed to sell, according to Bloomberg news. Christie’s and the estate are ”working together to explore next steps,” the auction house said. The famed violin had been expected to sell for between $7.5 million and $10 million, but offers failed to meet the “reserve price,” the agreed-on price between the Christie’s and the estate, Bloomberg said. It quoted a London-based violin appraiser, who said that not everyone wants to take part in a public auction , especially considering the attendant publicity. The auction was conducted by sealed bid.