NEW YORK.- Yesterday at Sotheby's, bidding began in the sale of Property from Kennedy Family Homes, with the first two sessions bringing a total of $1,747,620, exceeding the high estimate for the entire five-session auction. Collectors, Dealers, Interior Designers and those simply nostalgic for the era of Camelot competed for items from the home of President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy in Hyannis Port as well as other Kennedy family homes in Martha's Vineyard, New Jersey, New York City and Virginia, driving many prices to several multiples of their pre-sale estimates. Bidding resumes tomorrow with sessions at 10 am and 2 pm and continues through Thursday morning at 10 am.
The top lot of the day was A Turned Oak and Brown-Painted Rocking Armchair, North Carolina, 20th century (lot 53, est. $4/6,000)*, which sold for $96,000**. It was bought by Mr. Lucio Zagari, a Neapolitan ship owner and a great admirer of President and Mrs. Kennedy. Mr. Zagari, who was bidding on the phone from London and has homes in London and in Sorrento, plans on keeping the chair in his summer home in Sorrento. He described today's auction as "one of the most exciting days of my life." Rocking chairs had been present in all of the Kennedy homes as they had been recommended to ease President Kennedy's severe back pain. During his Presidency, these chairs, which were known as "Kennedy" rockers, were in various locations, including The White House, Hyannis Port, Hammersmith Farm in Newport, on the Presidential Yacht the Honey Fitz and his parents' home in Palm Beach.
A beautiful watercolor by American artist Ogden Pleissner (1905-1983) called The Breakwater (lot 41) sold for $37,200. The painting, which had been estimated to sell for $8/12,000, was presented to the Kennedy Family by the "Hyannis Port Neighbors" in 1965 in memory of John F. Kennedy. Another work which sparked competitive bidding was the Portrait of Captain Platt out of Portsmouth, with a Clipper Ship in the Distance, attributed to Frederick Mayhew, circa 1830, which sold for $51,000 (lot 196, est. $7/9,000). The iconic work hung behind President Kennedy in an official portrait, which subsequently appeared on the cover of the November 16, 1960 issue of Time Magazine. It was purchased by a prominent Democratic fundraiser bidding over the telephone.
Skippy Weinstein, a trial lawyer from Morristown, New Jersey, bought A Red Wool Flannel Blanket with Applied Black Monogram JFK (lot 88, est. $250/350) for $18,000. In 1963-65 Mr. Weinstein worked as an assistant in the Washington D.C. office of Senator Harrison Williams, a Democrat from New Jersey. Mr. Weinstein said that he bought the lot because he had admired John F. Kennedy very much and felt that the blanket "contained a lot of elements of history."
Jonathan Greenstein of Vancouver, British Columbia, came to the sale on behalf of the company www.KingSolomons.com, an online casino. He purchased A Group of Fourteen Molded-Glass Articles, including four tumblers bearing the Hyannisport Club emblem, (lot 83) for $1,000; A Victorian Style White-Painted Card Table (lot 79) for $3,250 and Two Trays, an Ice Bucket, a Glass Bowl, together with salt and pepper shakers (lot 108) for $2,750. Mr. Greenstein explained that he bought the items for their associational value for promotion of the online business.
One of the lowest estimated lots in the sale, the charming Cast-Iron Painted Flower-Filled Basket Form Doorstop from the Kennedy's Hyannis Port Home, which was estimated to sell for $60/80, was purchased by Melinda Cogen, a collector from New York, for $4,800, more than 60 times the high estimate.
Works by Aaron Shikler, the artist initially engaged by Jacqueline Kennedy to paint portraits of her children in 1968, were also sought-after today. His jewel-like painting of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in a Sailboat (2 x 3 ins.) (lot 165, est. $3/5,000) brought $27,000 and John and Caroline Reading: A Study, from 1968 (lot 160, est. $3/5,000) sold for $48,000.
*Estimates do not include buyer's premium
**Prices Include buyer's premium
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