Millea Bros Three-day ‘Select’ auction for $2.9 million

Auction in Boonton, NJ

BOONTON, NJ – Auction company Millea Bros held a three-day online auction, May 18-20, offering a wide range of fine art, design and antiques from around important estates, institutions and private collections in the New York area. The overall sale brought in $2.9 million with a sell-out rate of 95%. Four online platforms were used with more than 2,000 viewers every day. Tribal art and modern and contemporary art are the best performing categories. “For tribal art, that’s not always the case,” co-founder Michael Millea pointed out, “but for that, it was the quality of the material and the provenance of the Martin Wright estate. Tribal art, the clincher is always the provenance.

An antique Roman-style mosaic sold on Day 3, a session dedicated to Asian and tribal arts, antiques and silverware. The large marble panel, possibly from the fourth to fifth centuries, featured a spotted panther leaping among grasses and a tree and sold for $262,500.

Also offered on Day 3 is a monumental KwakwakaÃwakw figurative feast bowl, circa 1780 or earlier, from northwestern British Columbia. Possibly of alder wood, the canoe-shaped vessel with bands of canals along the edge and across the body featured expressive carved faces at each end and was approximately 43 inches long. Owned by the estate of Martin Wright, the bowl came out at $162,500. A private buyer from Wyoming prevailed. Catalog notes indicate that high-ranking Kwakwaka’wakw families owned ceremonial objects that symbolized supernatural encounters their ancestors had with mythological creatures from whom they obtained privileges and wealth.

A prominent Aleut closed-crowned chef’s hunting hat, also from the Wright estate, fetched $55,000. Fashioned in the late 18th/early 19th century in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands from bentwood, walrus bone, glass beads, fibers, sea lion whiskers and pigments, the shaped helmet of beak would have been carried at sea during whaling. Its surface was decorated with red and blue parallel lines, and a sculpted volute on the reverse bore a plumage of long marine whiskers. An old French handwritten label on the inside of the helmet read “Hateau d’un naturel-Detroit de Behring”, indicating that it was once part of a French collection.

The first day was dedicated to modern and contemporary art and design, jewelry and fashion. A large woolen tapestry by John Coburn (Australian, 1925-2006), with lively shapes and bright colors, went for $53,750 against an estimate of $8/12,000. The 1975 piece was titled “Legend” and was signed lower right, numbered on the reverse 1/6, with a Pinton Freres Tapisserie D’aubusson France label on the reverse and measured 71 by 57 inches. He returns to Australia.

Highlights of modern art also include a gouache attributed to Fernand Léger (French, 1881-1955) from a corporate art collection. The untitled 1949 composition was initialed and dated lower right. It bore the labels Richard Gray Gallery and Albert Loeb & Krugier Gallery on the back and was framed under plexiglass. Measuring 28 inches by 21 inches, he made $41,250.

Modern in design, an early sliding door cabinet by George Nakashima (American, 1905-1990) fetched $28,750 and lives in the northeastern United States. Beginning in 1958, the piece manufactured in New Hope, Pennsylvania was black walnut, with a free-edge overhanging top and exposed dovetail corners, and two sliding pandanus fabric-covered doors that opened on drawers on the left and shelves on the right. The cabinet was from the original owner, along with a copy of the original order card on Nakashima Studio letterhead.

Day 2 featured American and European art, antiques and rugs. There were two large Rozenburg vases on top, the most expensive of which was a four-handled Willem Hartgring example, which finished at $21,250, well above its estimate of $2/3,000. From around 1900, polychrome enamel porcelain featured a square globular body with a high, slender bulbous garlic neck and four looped handles, painted with stylized iris flowers. It was 15 inches tall and stood on a black display base.

There were several other tribal highlights on the final day of the sale, including a $28,750 Luba People women’s neck rest; a large bronze standing Ayuthaya Buddha and crow rattle from the Tlingit or Haida peoples each costing $25,000 and a pair of Chinese huanghuali “Meigui Yi” chairs selling for $23,750.

The prices shown include the buyer’s commission as quoted by the auction house. The auction house is planning its next sale in late June or early July. For more information, 973-377-1500 or www.millebros.com.

A decorative arts highlight on the second day of the sale was a large four-handled vase by Willem Hartgring Rozenburg. It sold for $21,250.

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Used by high-ranking Kwakwaka’wakw families in northwestern British Columbia, ceremonial objects like this monumental figurative feast bowl, circa 1780 or earlier, symbolize supernatural encounters their ancestors had with mythological creatures whose they got privileges and wealth. This canoe-shaped vessel with expressive carved faces on either end sold for $162,500.

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Attributed to Fernand Léger, this 1949 gouache on paper fetched $41,250.

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A large wool tapestry by John Coburn, 1975, sold on the first day for $53,750.

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For $25,000, this large bronze standing Ayuthaya Buddha.

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A Luba People female neck rest fetched $28,750.

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The modern design was led by this George Nakashima sliding door wardrobe which comes with its original owner’s paperwork and was offered for $28,750.

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The winning bidder paid $23,750 for this pair of Chinese huanghuali “Meigui Yi” chairs.

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A Tlingit or Haida Peoples crow rattle left the gallery at $25,000.

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