art · luxury

A Day At Freeman’s Auction, Part 1

As you all know, I went to Philadelphia a few days ago. I didn’t just go for the sake of having a getaway (though I desperately needed a getaway!). I went to attend an auction at Freeman’s, the oldest auction house in the United States. Freeman’s has been in business over 200 years, and they find new homes for all sorts of treasures.

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The star of the auction, sold for $802,000

I stopped by on May 8th to view the items to be auctioned on May 9th (you have to come at least the day prior to an auction in order to view and inspect items to be sold). The auction I planned to attend was the sale of jewelry and accessories previously owned by billionaire heiress Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton. 

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I had my eye on one piece in particular: a platinum and diamond brooch shaped like a bow. I figured I would bid on it if the price was right but I needed to check it out first. The staff in the display room was friendly and professional. I was given information on how to bid and I stopped by Client Services to drop off my bidder registration form. Again, the staff in the Client Services office was friendly and professional.

 

The object of my affection

Freeman’s is a throwback to bygone years (they have an elevator with an actual elevator operator!) but it’s fascinating to see how they’ve managed to blend the past and the current day. The same building with an elevator operator has huge monitors so that bidders can see the items being auctioned as well as online bidding capabilities.

In Part 2 of this post, I’ll discuss the actual auction and the outcome. Talk to you all soon!

festivals · luxury

Are You Derby-Ready?

Can you believe that the Kentucky Derby is only a few days away? I love horses but I’ve never been to the Derby; however, I’m not letting anything get in the way of my Derby Day fun.

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For starters, I’m going to see whether I can make my way to a viewing party. But, if I can’t I’m going to create my own Derby fun at home. Here’s the plan for a Derby Day in:

  1. I will wear a pretty spring gown and a complementary fascinator. I will have a ball sticking to the “dress code” as outlined on the Kentucky Derby website.
  2. I will make myself a mint julep and sip it like a genteel lady. The Derby-approved mint julep recipe can be found here: Mint Julep.
  3. I’ll check out social media to see the photos of the Derby fashions.
  4. I’ll tune into NBC to watch the race.

julep

A mint julep

Are you going to the Derby? Or will you be attending a watch party? I’d love to hear your Derby Day plans!

beauty · luxury

Fun with Perfumes

perfume

30 scents in 30 days: I’m up for the challenge!

Do you follow me on Instagram? If not, you’re missing out on my #30Days30Scents series. Every day, I’m wearing a different perfume and giving my overall review of it.

Day 13 of #30scentsin30days brings us to @tocca Giulietta. I accidentally went spritzing crazy with this one, and I immediately regretted it when I realized that this #scent has lilac in it. You all remember that the #fragrance I wore on Day 9 (@cleanperfume Blossom) had lilac and lily, and I wasn’t a fan of those floral notes. However, doing this challenge has helped me pinpoint the scent that I dislike most on my skin: it’s lily. While Giulietta has lilac, I enjoyed this #perfume a lot more than Clean Blossom: this one doesn’t have lily in it. It does have some other floral notes, like heliotrope, iris and orchid. This scent is sumptuous: this elegant Italian contessa. I will enjoy wearing it in the fall, as I think this one will be great during the cooler months #smellgoodfeelgood #smellgoodfeelbetter #beauty #blogger #thebronzebutterfly #thebronzedbutterfly #bronzebutterfli

A post shared by Missy Delano (@bronzebutterfli) on

If you want to learn more about the fragrances that I’ve reviewed on this blog, along with some others that I haven’t formally reviewed, then this is the series for you. I’m also open to suggestions as I progress toward the end of the month, so feel free to comment either here or on Instagram and let me know which scents you think I should try!

life curation · luxury

The Auction You Won’t Want to Miss

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This sapphire and diamond ring by Cartier, Paris is expected to fetch between $125,000 and $150,000

You all know, just by browsing through my previous posts, that I love sparkly stuff. So it should be no surprise that I let out an audible gasp when I saw that Sotheby’s is having a fine jewelry sale on April 19th at their New York location.

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This diamond bracelet will likely fetch more than $20,000 when it is auctioned

It’s a work day for me, and I can’t justify a New York day trip this month. But just know that I’m at the auction … In spirit.

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This bracelet by David Webb is an equine enthusiast’s dream

 

Lots are estimated as low as $400 and as high as $150,000+. I think this will be a fascinating sale, simply because the price points are so wide-ranging. This may attract a varied group of jewelry collectors and appreciators.

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This Tiffany & Co. brooch is expected to be on the lower end of the cost spectrum with high bids estimated at around $600.

My favorite piece is this pin by David Webb. The cat’s coy, over-the-shoulder expression is what drew me in. It’s an unexpected rendition of the typical feline brooch. Instead of looking fierce, stoic or languid, this kitty looks inquisitive and alert. She looks more like a curious housecat than a fearsome predator.

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The cat that stole my heart

The auction is broken into two sessions, with the first session starting at 10:30 AM, and resuming with the second session at 2:00 PM. The event will happen on April 19, at Sotheby’s New York location (1334 York Avenue). As far as I could tell, this one does’t have the option for online bidding. If you can go, just know that I’m living vicariously through you!

 

(All photos courtesy of Sotheby’s)

 

art · luxury

Why Private Tastes Run Public Art Museums

As an art enthusiast, I enjoy following the trends and learning more about the industry. Nowhere have I seen such a collision of creativity and business as I have in the art world. What I find especially fascinating is how art professionals make their mark or how they navigate these spaces during their careers.

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The Carpet Merchant of Cairo by Jean-Leon Gerome

I recently read an article by Felix Salmon explaining the unexpected termination of Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (MOCA LA) curator Helen Molesworth. The article indicates that the firing was “controversial”, so the opinions about the termination are varied. However, the underlying reason why Molesworth was released may be discerned from data related to her time at MOCA LA.

Data analytics were used to determine the difference between curatorial choices made by Molesworth and selections made by previous curators. The data confirmed that, prior to Molesworth’s tenure, the museum’s special exhibits prominently featured art “market darlings”: the artists that patrons regularly purchased for their personal collections and that had sold well at auctions. Artists that commanded high dollar prices at auction ($10+ million gross) were frequently featured in MOCA LA exhibits. However, during the three years that Molesworth was at MOCA LA, only two of her curated exhibits exceeded the $10 million gross amount.

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The Moorish Warrior by William Merritt Chase

This is a simple matter of economics: patrons know that the value of their investments needs to be affirmed by museums. Museums and patrons have a symbiotic relationship: they mutually affirm the value of certain artists’ works. It’s important that art “market darlings” are heavily featured so that art investors can justify the valuation of their investment.

Here lies the problem with Molesworth: she didn’t feature art “market darlings” prominently during her tenure. Her emphasis on display diverse artists that weren’t pulling in high dollar amounts at aucton didn’t win her any fans with the old art vanguard, namely, the trustees of MOCA LA. In many ways, her innovation and commitment to smaller, lesser known, less commercially popular artists sealed her fate.

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The Daughter of Herodias Dancing by James Tissot

An additional point of clarity: MOCA LA has minimal government funding. Donors are quoted as providing 80% of the museum’s funding. This means that it behooves the museum to consider the personal tastes of their financial supporters. Molesworth’s choices didn’t endear her to donors, because her curatorial choices didn’t reflect the work of the “market darlings”. Her curated exhibits didn’t affirm the value of donors’ collections; she was inadvertently setting the tone for a shift away from the “darlings” and a move toward more lesser known artists. A death knell like this could have been catastrophic for the valuation of donors’ private art collections.

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Study of a Moor in Blue by Edwin Lord Weeks

All his being said, I actually am in favor of MOCA LA’s decision. Museums that receive the majority of their funds from private donors are beholden, to extent, to the tastes of those donors. As a museum attempts to steer its collection and exhibits to align with the vision of the supporters, it makes sense to have curators that are also on board with that vision. I’m unsure whether MOCA LA expressed to Ms. Molesworth what they wanted from her in her role as curator, but I can hope that this was explained at some point. If not, some research on previous exhibits would have been wise: a cursory review would have revealed an affinity for certain artists. Molesworth could have gradually introduced artists with lower gross auction amounts while still curating exhibits that would be favored by the donors.

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The Old Blue-Tiled Mosque Outside of Delhi, India by Edwin Lord Weeks

The practical application in this case is this: when entering a new space, always do your research. The discussions among colleagues are great but the numbers don’t lie. Gather data and look for trends. See what the similarities are and plan accordingly. I don’t know that Molesworth could have completely avoided this – after all, she had to stay true to her own vision as a curator – but her research may have revealed that she wasn’t as good a fit for MOCA LA as she originally believed.

 

 

(This post featured art that had a Middle-Eastern/Indian theme. All photos courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum, as shown on archive.org)

beauty · luxury

Glass Skin Challenge – Final Results

In a previous post, I talked about the Glass Skin Challenge that I planned to do in the month of March. I also mentioned small tweaks that I made in my routine during the month. I did this routine for a month and recorded my pre-experiment and post-experiment skin. Here are the photos of my results for the Glass Skin Challenge!

Before the routine:

After the routine:

I loved the results and, though my camera can’t quite capture the difference, just know that my skin has clearly improved. I’ve even been complimented on my skin, which let’s me know that the products are working. As a quick recap, my skin type is combination, sensitive and acne-prone. So I wanted to see if this routine a) made my skin too dry or too oily, b) aggravated my skin and caused additional sensitive issues, c) made my acne flare up, and, most importantly, d) made my skin look its best. I’ll list the pros and cons of the routine below:.

Pros:

  • It doesn’t take as long as you would think. It took me about 5 minutes longer to do this routine than my old routine.
  • You don’t have to literally do 10 steps twice a day. The most that I did during any singular skin care session was 8 steps.
  • It didn’t make me break out. All that product on my skin, and not once did I have a clogged pore or pimple.
  • It helped fade dark marks. The combination of consistent exfoliation and regular sunscreen usage seemed to make a big difference in fading the scars.

Cons:

  • You go through a LOT of products. You do have 10+ of them that you’re using, after all. The essence, which I used twice a day, seemed to really go pretty fast.
  • It can get pricey. My exfoliant (the Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel by Dr. Dennis Gross) was $88 for a 30-day supply, and, depending on where you get your essence (I used SCINIC), it may cost you $20-30 for a bottle that won’t last for much more than a month. My Caudalie toner wasn’t cheap, either, though I LOVED it and will definitely purchase again.
  • The exfoliant I used gave me the “Hollywood star”, super-shiny skin look. You know how some actors and actresses have waxy looking skin that has been botoxed and chemically peeled to the max? Yeah, I was starting to get that look. I’m glad that my skin has a bit more density to it: the look only lingered at night, after exfoliating. My daytime routine didn’t have me looking like a sculpture.

After doing the Glass Skin routine, I realized that some of the imperfections I tried to correct were actually small flesh moles that couldn’t be removed via an at-home skin care regimen. Also, I learned that overall brightness and clarity in a complexion can really make you look more alert and healthy.

While I can’t promise that I’ll adhere strictly to the regimen in the future, I am comfortable saying that I will stick pretty closely to the 10-step program and see if I can further perfect my complexion.

art · luxury

Art Collectors Conundrum: Unpredictability

In the Art Collectors Conundrum series, we continue to explore some of the topics of interest for inexperienced art collectors/appreciators or aspiring art world professionals. Instead of simply noting the issue at hand, we ponder some ways to mitigate some of the invisible barriers of the art world.

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(all photos by James Van Der Zee)

One of the biggest stumbling blocks on the road to art connoisseurship is unpredictability within the art market. Many would-be collectors are unnerved at the thought of investing significant amounts of money into art, only for that art to potentially never appreciate in value.

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Here’s the problem with that logic: it assumes that art is purely an investment, when, in fact, art, is a tangible item that can be enjoyed now while also possibly growing in monetary value in the future. Let’s face it: we choose to invest in different things all of the time. We invest in our homes, our cars, our personal appearance, our careers, and our families. Many of these things are depreciable assets (cars will lose value, we won’t look 22 forever). However, art is one of the few investments that can be potentially monetized at a future date, though you can enjoy it right now, while you own it.

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The key to weathering the unpredictability of the art resale market? Only purchase art that you completely enjoy NOW. As a new collector, there’s no need to speculate about how much the art will be worth in the future if you’re enjoying the art right now, as it hangs on your wall or stands in your living space (in the case of sculptures).

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There’s no concern over how a piece will appreciate if you’re “appreciating” the piece right now, as it holds space in your collection. Focus on purchasing the art that moves you, the art that lights you up or makes you stop and think. Only buy the art that invokes feelings in you. Then, no matter what the art is worth today or tomorrow, you will have enjoyed it and you will have gotten immeasurable value from it right NOW.

(all photos courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts digital exhibit, The Black Photographer’s Annual, Volume 1)