It Sold for WHAT?! – Sculpture Edition
Because everyone did so well last time, we made this one a little more challenging.
In this game, we show you 2 images of fine & decorative arts and 2 sale prices. Match them up!
Ready? Set? Go!
QUESTION 1: ANGELS
One angel sculpture sold for $450. The other sold for €18,000. Which sold for €18,000?
B! Object A is an attractive marble sculpture of an angel, but comes with no information about the work (not even the dimensions!). In contrast, Object B comes with an extensive description of the work in English & German. B is a depiction of the Annunciation Group, created in Southern Germany, “probably [by] the circle of Meister der Wiener Burgkapelle, late 15th century Wood, carved.” The seller goes on to explain the characteristics of value for Object B:
“The style of the carving and iconographical evidence illustrated by painted Annunciations suggests a date between 1480 and 1500. Most Annunciation groups show the more usual iconography of the angel approaching from the left, while the present angel enters the scene from the right. This relationship between the Archangel and the Virgin Annunciate is extremely rare in French and German art of the Gothic period. The present Annunciation group is closely related among an example in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna dating circa 1480. Therefore it should be grouped in the circle of the Master der Wiener Burgkapelle.”
Further, this piece was sold in Germany, an appropriate marketplace for German artwork.
QUESTION 2: ASIAN
One of these Asian sculptures sold for $1,000. The other sold for $3,800,000. Which sold for $3,800,000?
A! Do you know artist Ju Ming? If not, you should. Ming is an artist that has reinvented his style multiple times throughout his internationally recognized career. Object A is a bronze from Ming’s Taichi Series (1995). It comes with a Certificate of Authenticity issued by Jun Youn Sculpture Gallery, Taipei. On the other hand, Object B’s lack of artist attribution, ambivalent provenance (“Important private collection”), unusual description (“organic formation of bleached roots naturally found in river beds” ) and modest size (“22 x 30 1/2 inches”) seems to have turned off prospective bidders.
QUESTION 3: BRONCOS
One of these bronco bronzes sold for $65,000. The other sold for $280,000. Which sold for $280,000? (Hint: Both works are by Frederic Remington.)
A! We have 2 works by the same artist, Frederic Remington. Remington was an American artist who focused on the Old American West. To the untrained eye, both bronzes look rather similar. However, Frederic Peter Hassrick, Director Emeritus and Senior Scholar, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, reviewed Object A prior to its sale & wrote, “I feel that this is a perfectly fine example of an early Roman Bronze Works casting of Remington’s The Broncho Buster and should be added to the artist’s sculptural oeuvre.” A also comes with a letter from Harold McCraken, Director of The Whitney Gallery of Western Art and Buffalo Bill Historical Center confirming the authenticity of this work as The Bronco Buster #17 by Frederic Remington. Object B certainly has significant value ($65,000) but lacks the same high level of scholarship as Object A. It is worth noting that Remington’s are frequently copied or forged. The seller of Object B notes that the work has the mark of Roman Bronze Works, NY (one of the 2 foundries used by Remington) and offers buyers the opportunity to review a 1995 Semtec Laboratories’ semi-quantitative elemental analysis of the metal to suggest its authenticity.
QUESTION 4: MODERN
One of these modern sculptures sold for $200. The other sold for $4,000,000. Which sold for $4,000,000?
B! Geez, both the prices for these sculptures are SHOCKING!
In case you were wondering, Object B is made out of candy. Yes, “candies, individually wrapped in light-blue cellophane (endless supply). Ideal weight: 198.5 lbs (90 kg); dimensions vary with installation. This work is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity signed by the artist”. Perhaps you are thinking: If I throw a bag of Snickers on the ground, can I sell it for 4 million dollars?
I sympathize with this opinion, but let’s look at the characteristics of value that explain this enormous price tag. The provenance of Object B includes the famous Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York and other exhibitions. There is extensive literature on the artist and this piece. The seller claims in the description that:
“The candy pieces are the most celebrated and iconic series by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Made in a short span of just three years, between 1990 and 1993, the candy pieces are works of great physical beauty and immediacy of physical appeal: shimmering masses of edible color spilled across the floor or piled in the corner of a room…[they are] charged with associations whose meanings were fully known only by the artist; yet these works are meant to be shared in the most direct and unstinting way with the viewers, who are welcome to take pieces from the pile, and eat them. Works of visual art are usually meant to please only one of the senses, but the candy pieces stimulate all the senses, not only sight, but touch, hearing, smell and taste too as the viewer handles, unwraps and consumes the candy.”
Personally, I think Object A is gorgeous. However, my personal taste has little affect on the price of objects! There are a few reasons I suspect A was sold for such a low number. The first is that the work is unattributed. The second is that the object must weigh a ton. In the condition section, the seller puts “likely married to base,” adding to the difficult and expensive task of transporting this steel work of art.
FINAL ROUND- QUESTION 5: MODERN VS ANTIQUE, ITALIAN
One of these Italian sculptures sold for $30. The other sold for $1,000. Which sold for $1,000?
B! This was a hard one, since neither object was attributed to an artist or time period. Object B was described as an “antique Italian alabaster sculpture.” Seller B may have not been particularly knowledgeable about the work, considering he started the bidding at $50. Apparently, more than one bidder thought the opening bid motivating. I’ll bet he or she was surprised by its $1000 sale price! When multiple bidders are interested in the same work of art, even modest items can sell nicely.
Object A is an abstract metal sculpture on a marble base. In a different marketplace Object A, may have sold better.Since A is a relatively attractive work of art, an estate sale might have been a better venue because there’s an opportunity to reach the right buyer.
How did you do? If you enjoyed this Magnusson Game, comment with your results. We’ll post a Leader Board soon!
Tell us what you would like to be tested on next to skew the odds in your favor!
(Reference data: LiveAuctioneers)
Co-Authors: Lynn Magnusson, ASA, AAA and Becky Lipnick, Communications Coordinator