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Noguchi's 'Undine' Tops Freeman's Modern & Contemporary Art Auction.

PHILADELPHIA, May 29 /PRNewswire/ --

- Works by Warhol, Bertoia and Calder among Highlights of US$2 Million Sale

A standing-room only crowd in Freeman's Philadelphia auction gallery was given stiff competition from bidders around the world during the company's Sunday, May 20th sale of Modern & Contemporary Art. Hundreds of phone and internet bidders helped drive many prices well beyond estimates, leading to a total for the day of US$1,970,000 (against a pre-sale estimate of US$1,000,000-1,600,000). The result represented a 95% sell-through by value, with 95 of 229 lots exceeding high estimate.

"Competition was intense from start to finish today, from works by established artists through to the local artists with national followings such as Bo Bartlett and Vincent Desiderio," said Alasdair Nichol, Freeman's Senior Vice President. "Today's results clearly demonstrate that the market for modern and contemporary work is especially vibrant at the moment, and that Freeman's has a significant position within that market thanks to our efforts to reach a broad national and international audience."

Leading the way was a large bronze by Isamu Noguchi entitled "Undine," recently rediscovered by Freeman's research and considered by many to be the finest example of his early work, prior to his embrace of Modernism. Estimated at US$40,000-60,000, "Undine" drew considerable private, trade and institutional interest and soared to a result of US$155,350.

A pencil-signed and numbered color screenprint of the Philadelphia icon Grace Kelly by Andy Warhol came to Freeman's from a local private collection. Bidding on the piece was short and swift, as absentee bids forced the auctioneer to open the bidding at US$83,650 (against an estimate of US$25,000-40,000), immediately knocking out the many waiting phone and internet bidders. Other highlights from the many fine prints in the sale included a large section of works by Tom Wesselman. 18 pieces from various consignors were included in the sale, carrying a total pre-sale estimate of US$77,000-119,000). All 18 sold for a total of more than US$125,000.

International bidders were a major factor throughout the day. A previously undiscovered work by Max Liebermann - "Dame und Zwei Madchen auf Einer Parkbank - Studie sur 'Papageienallee'" - was a study for one of the artist's most important paintings. Carrying an estimate of US$20,000-30,000, the work eventually wound up returning home to a German collector at US$77,675. Successful international bids included an Israeli buyer on Maurice Utrillo's "Les Fortifications de Paris" (US$71,700 against a US$30,000-50,000 estimate); a Canadian buyer on Jean Dufy's "Scene de Paris" (US$35,850 against a US$25,000-40,000 estimate); and the Singapore bidder who paid US$40,630 for Francis Newton Souza's "Untitled - Chemical Alteration," believed to be a record price for Souza's chemical alteration period. Buyers from France, England, Switzerland, Poland, Luxembourg and Monaco also were successful during the sale.

Works by Harry Bertoia, the Pennsylvania sculptor, continued to prove popular with Freeman's buyers. An untitled bush form sculpture sold for US$71,700 (estimate US$20,000-30,000), while a 51 1/4 inch high tonal sculpture on a 12 by 12 inch base sold for US$56,750. Both pieces had been acquired directly from the artist by the consignor's parents, and have now found new homes in California and New York.

Alexander Calder's gouache on paper "Composition" was one of the more popular lots on the day with fifteen bidders on the phone. This strong graphic work, which came to Freeman's from the company's Charlottesville office, sold for US$65,725 (estimate US$25,000-40,000).

Two local artists fared especially well in the sale, with new world records established for Bo Bartlett and Vincent Desiderio. Both Bartlett's "Lifeboat" (estimate US$12,000-18,000) and Desiderio's triptych "A Matter of Inheritance" (estimate US$15,000-25,000) sold for US$50,750 to private collectors in Texas and Michigan.

Freeman's next sale of Modern & Contemporary Art will take place in mid-November. Consignment inquiries may be sent to Alasdair Nichol or David Weiss at +1-215-563-9275, extensions 3011 and 3014, respectively. Email inquiries may be sent to or .

Also taking place over the weekend was Freeman's first sale of 20/21st Century Design under the direction of new specialist Brent Lewis. Highlights from the Saturday auction included a 1967 Crossle 12F racecar, one of only six made and ready to race on the vintage Formula 12 circuit. Freeman's strategic partnership with Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh proved fruitful once again, as the car sold for US$54,000 to a buyer in Glasgow who learned of the sale through the joint Freeman's/Lyon & Turnbull news magazine, International View.

George Nakashima's work continues to grow in popularity. Top lot of the many Nakashima pieces in the sale was an exceptional long chair that sold for US$31,070 against a US$12,000-18,000 pre-sale estimate. Also greeted with enthusiasm was the large section of Danish furniture and ceramics, led by a Finn Juhl "Chieftain" chair (US$23,900, estimate US$10,000-15,000) and an Axel Salto "Sprouting" vase (US$21,510, estimate US$20,000-30,000).

Freeman's next sale of 20/21st Century Design will again share the weekend with Modern & Contemporary Art this November. Inquiries may be directed to Brent Lewis at ext. 3045 or .

Full results of both weekend auctions can be found at .

Web site:

David Donaldson of Freeman's, +1-215-563-9275 ext. 3039
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Publication:PR Newswire Europe
Date:May 29, 2007
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