Art Auction: Art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas

I hadn’t recently posted about any auctions (partially because I’ve been working on a juicy post all about auctions just for you all!) but I came across this one and I had to share.

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Some of the lots offered at Sotheby’s upcoming auction

Sotheby’s is auctioning off some extraordinary art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas (specifically, ancient Mesoamerica and North America). These lots are not just decorative objects: they are ancient artifacts that bridge the collector to faraway (both in the sense of time and distance) worlds.

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This totem pole from southeast Alaska is estimated to command up to $350,000 at auction

The auction features 90 lots, expected to fetch from $2,000 on the lower end to upwards of $350,000. This wide range of estimated selling prices guarantees that this auction will attract a variety of collectors.

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 A Maori nephrite pendant is estimated to command a price upwards of $50,000

My favorite piece of the auction is the Yoruba Altar Emblem from Nigeria. It isn’t the most expensive piece of this auction, but the colorful detailing, as well as the connection to the orishas, fascinates me.

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Yoruba Altar Emblem for Oko, Nigeria

The event will be held on May 14 at 10:30 AM, at Sotheby’s New York location (1334 York Avenue, New York, NY). All items can be viewed prior to the sale (10 AM to 5 PM Monday – Saturday, 1 PM to 5 PM on Sunday) so that you can experience these artifacts in person.

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

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)


art · international

More Kenyan Artists to Check Out

As an aspiring art professional, I always have an eye out for unique art wherever I go. I am a sucker for the classics, but I get a thrill out of finding contemporary artists that appeal to my personal tastes.

While in Kenya, I visited the Nairobi National Museum but I couldn’t take pictures in the photo gallery, as those pieces were for sale. However, I found myself “oohing” and “aahing” too much to just look at the paintings and walk away. So I jotted down the names of the artists and decided to look them up when I got home. I’m glad that I did, because now I can share these talented creators with you all!


A photo from The Next Gen Exhibition featuring Kenyan artists (photo from Artleeyo)

As it turns out, the many of the pieces featured in the Nairobi National Museum were done by local graffiti artists. The main three artists featured in the gallery – Kaymist4, Thufu B, and Msale – have formed a street art group named the Bomb Squad Crew. Their art is featured on the website

Work by Kaymist4

I had problems viewing the pages of the website, but I’m not sure if that is because the website has portion under construction or because I’m located outside of Kenya. In any case, you may have more success in navigating the website. I’m still researching the best way to purchase some of their pieces.

Work by Msale


Two more artists that were featured were Ssali Yusuf  (who is actually Ugandan, not Kenyan) and Remy Musindi.  Both artists skillfully use color, though Musindi’s color choices tend to be more subdued, while Yusuf’s are more saturated and crisp.

Piece by Remy Musindi

The trend I noticed in the artwork that I saw was vivid rendering of the female form. A focus on portraying the beautiful faces of African women is a common theme in Kenyan art. As an art lover that prefers portraiture over landscape and abstract paintings, I can appreciate the theme.

If you are interested in buying art online, I highly recommend that you use a reputable third party to handle the transaction, even if the purchase is relatively inexpensive. Galleries like ArtspaceSaatchi Art and UGallery specialize in connecting artists with collectors, and they can work out details like shipping and proper framing. You can find more more online galleries through this link.

art · luxury

Art Collectors Conundrum: Culture Clash

As explained in previous posts, Art Collectors Conundrum explores the current issues surrounding art collecting. There are a lot of different issues that impact new collectors as they journey into the art world, and one of those big issues is the dissonance that exists between aesthetic indulgences and minimalist ideals.

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Betye Saar, Blow Top Blues, The Fire Next Time (1998)

The thing is, the culture of today’s wealthy – especially wealthy millenials – leans more toward minimalism and less toward acquisition of material goods. Any time spent on social media will confirm the “shift” from a culture of excess to one of spartan decorating practices. Many millenials favor the bare walls and monochrome decor that makes for clear, appealing Instagram photos. And, if they select art, the art often lacks the color, texture and excitement that used to be favored by collectors.


Betye Saar, Indigo Mercy (1975)

In short, this cultural clash results in fewer “new” big spenders. Bloomberg wrote about the “new elite” and their artistic tastes. The article points out that location has much to do with the cultural difference, too: East Coast “new money” tends to buy art in the more traditional fashion, while West Coast “new money” isn’t as interested in purchasing pricey art “for arts’ sake”.

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Betye Saar, Twilight Awakening (1978)

The key to luring in these potential art investors isn’t as simple as one would think. The most important thing to remember about the new wealthy is that they are earning their fortunes much earlier than the wealthy of previous generations. They just aren’t as likely to be focused on art collecting if they are buying their first homes and starting families.

An interesting way to get the new wealthy interested in collecting could be an art loan program, which allows them to enjoy works for a fixed period of time and then they can purchase the work if they want, or turn it back over to the gallery to “try out” something different. It isn’t a perfect solution but it would provide them with some exposure to fine art and would help them hone in on their personal tastes and preferences.

Those are some of my thoughts on overcoming the dissonance between minimalist goals and owning art. What are your thoughts? Feel free to share your comments below!

(all art by Betye Saar and in the National Gallery of Arts collections)

luxury · reading list

A Bibliophile’s Dream . . .

I don’t often discuss auction houses outside of Christie’s or Sotheby’s auctions. These two entities usually feature more of the items that interest me personally. However, I regularly peruse some of the other big names in the auction world because, well, you never know when you’ll come across a gem of a sale.

I was delighted to see that Bonhams is having an Extraordinary Books and Manuscripts auction in just a few days (March 9). This sale will have all sorts of rare books, manuscripts, and other miscellaneous written material. One item that I found particularly interesting is a letter autographed by Alexander Hamilton. Given the resurgence of interest in Hamilton (we can thank the stageplay Hamilton for that), I expect that this memorabilia will go for much more than the estimated $10-15,000 USD.


Hamilton’s letter

Two more items of interest to me are a violin owned by, and a letter written and signed by, Albert Einstein. I find Einstein fascinating and I would love to own some memorabilia. These items are expected to fetch between $100,000 and $150,000 each, and I can see them easily going for more than that. I’m sure the lucky winner will treasure these items tremendously.

Einstein’s violin and autographed letter

The auction will happen at Bonhams’ Madison Avenue location in  New York City, USA. If you are a collector of rare books, you won’t want to miss this event!

art · Uncategorized

Buy Art and Support Public Schools

I recently received an email from Reynolds Gallery in Richmond, VA, explaining a special campaign for the month of February. The gallery is donating 10% of sales proceeds generated in February to support Richmond Public Schools. The gallery announced, “We want to do our part to improve the lives and education of our city’s children.”

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Reynolds Gallery was founded in 1977 and emphasizes a connection with local artists. That, along with the promise of donating 10% of February’s sales to public education, is a convincing reason to check out their offerings and see if there is any work that you’d love to own.

The contemporary pieces featured in the gallery are great for every collector, from the novice to the expert. I like Robert Stuart’s “From White to Red” (2017) and Andras Bality’s “Monhegan Sunflowers” (2017).

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I also found Doug Gray’s “Guthrie Theater Lobby Oct 1977 Minneapolis” (2017) enchanting. It gives Piet Mondrian vibes, no?

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Check out the online shop and see if there’s anything you’d like to get for your own collection! Remember, a portion of the proceeds will go to supporting a better educational environment for Richmond Public School students.

art · culture

My Current Favorite App

As a fan of all things art and culture related, I find it challenging to locate tools and apps that satisfy both of my interests simultaneously. That is, until the Google Art and Culture App came into my life.

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I love being able to instantly access all sorts of interesting art and culture articles. Even better, I love being able to virtual tour museums that I have not yet visited in person. The app allows you to view famous artworks up close, without having to peer through crowds to see it (anything in the Louvre comes to mind).

It’s possible to find art by searching by the title of the work or by an artist’s name. For an example of what you can find on the app, I searched for Edmonia Lewis (I’ve known about her for a long time, but a recent podcast by Art History Babes renewed my interest in her story). Here is some screenshots of what Google Art and Culture had about Edmonia Lewis:

Even cooler, the app has a feature that allows users to take a selfie and find their art “doppelganger”. It’s a fun feature that’s sure to expose users to artwork they’ve never seen before!

Have you downloaded the Google Art and Culture app? How have you been enjoying it? Let me know in the comments below!



art · luxury

Art Collector Conundrum: Affordability

As part of this (informal) series, I want to explore some of the difficulties I see within the art world. These things aren’t obstacles, per se, but they can be challenging for people that are on the outside “looking in”. As I learn more and find myself exploring the business, historical, and aesthetic side of art, I can see the individual factors that make art collecting and the entire business of art frustrating and intimidating to the average person.

One of the biggest obstacles to pursuing either a career in or a collection of art is affordability. Prestigious disciplines and hobbies have always been cost prohibitive, and rightly so: this maintains the integrity, prestige and lucrative nature. But in these increasingly egalitarian times, the question remains: how can affordability be part of the art world while maintaining esteem?

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Le Jockey by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (uploaded by the Brooklyn Museum)

The best recommendation I can pose is this: start where you are. That applies no matter where you want to fit into within the art world. Instead of aiming to have a personal art collection on the level of the Louvre, new collectors that have less capital to invest should start where they are and purchase what they enjoy and can afford. People aspiring to be curators and consultants should start by educating themselves as affordably as possible: attend free or low-cost art courses (some of which can be done online), volunteer at a museum or gallery, or even purchase used art textbooks and read the material.

The key to avoiding overwhelm is to take it one step at a time.

There are some entities that are striving to make art more affordable. Educators like ALISON, Coursera and Saylor (especially the Saylor Legacy Courses) make art education affordable. Taking classes at local museums, galleries, art organizations, and community colleges is also another another way to obtain art knowledge at a low cost.

Entering the art collecting world need not be expensive. New collectors should seek out local artists that are talented but not yet famous. Being an “early adopter” often means securing wonderful artwork at an affordable price. Also, it’s important to support smaller artists that may one day become one of the big names in the art world.


Tahitian Woman by Paul Gauguin (uploaded by the Brooklyn Museum)

There are also companies that will finance the purchase of high dollar art. One of these is ArtMoney, a company that offers financing options for people that want to buy art. ArtMoney is currently affiliated with 500 galleries nationwide to help art appreciators acquire works of art that would normally be out of their budgets. Also, there are innovative artists that offer lease and lease-to-own option for interested parties. This allows collectors to enjoy the art of their choice on the terms that best suit them.

So there are always ways to navigate around issues of affordability. Many times, this means setting aside preconceived limitations and approaching a solution with a fresh perspective. By exploring unorthodox and less popular strategies, it’s possible to make any part of the art world affordable.

hollywood glamour · style

How to Dress Like Audrey Hepburn

A few months ago, Christie’s had an enormous Audrey Hepburn memorabilia auction. In fact, I wrote about it during the early days of this blog. The auction featured over 300 items personally owned by Audrey. Given Audrey’s immense popularity, it should be no surprise that the auction generated nearly $6.5 million in sales (4.6 million GBP).

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Photo as shown on Christie’s

If you, like me, weren’t one of the lucky auction winners, take heart. Audrey was a woman of classic taste and many of clothing items sold can be easily duplicated. Here, I’ll share some of the items featured in the auction, as well as my recommendations for recreating the look.

By the way, you may notice that the items aren’t the signature pieces from her films but, rather, her own personal, off-screen wardrobe (with lots of pieces from her later years). I actually like the fact that the pieces are “everyday” chic, because they don’t come across as “costume-y”. But remember, these are Audrey’s clothes: even her “everyday” items are much more stylish than what most people wear.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite items from the auction as well as items to recreate the look. I found pieces on Boohoo and Amazon, which aren’t expensive but allows you to try a look at a low price. Enjoy!

A Black Silk Crepe Tuxedo and Associated Ivory Wool Crepe Trousers

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Get the look:

Rhea Boutique Double Breasted Tailored Tux Blazer

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This double breasted tux has the same satin lapels but it’s a fraction of the cost of the original jacket. The hem is a little below the hip bone, so it feels more relaxed than formal.

Adana Tie Waist Tailored Slim Fit Trouser

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While the trousers owned by Audrey probably had a less ornate waist, I prefer the less-expensive option. The tie waist adds visual interest when the tuxedo jacket is open or removed. The design of the legs of both trousers are very similar.


An Ivory Silk Shirt and Black Silk Skirt

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Get the look:

Molly Tailored Shirt

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This fitted blouse looks great with skirts and pants, and easily goes from the workplace to after hours events. To maximize the Audrey look, wear this with as few accessories as possible.

Savannah Chiffon Pleated Midi Skirt

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Unless you’re extremely thin and a little bit tall (like Audrey), a midi length is more flattering. The flowing design of this pleated dress echoes the movement of the original skirt. However, the texture created by the pleats keeps this skirt from feeling too visually “heavy”.


An Oatmeal Wool Trench Coat

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Get the look (click on the image to link to the coat):

This coat has a beautifully detailed shoulder and a charming collar. This could easily mimic the original by replacing the fasteners with oatmeal-colored buttons.


A White Cotton Blouse and Matching Skirt

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Get the look:

Elizabeth Boutique Ruffle Tuxedo Shirt

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The detailing along the button placket makes this a good choice for replicating Audrey’s white top. The additional ruffles on the top echo the subtle ruffles on the skirt of the original ensemble. Just remove the black tie and you’re set!

Tall Emily Boutique Tulle Mesh Midi Skirt

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This midi skirt is made for tall girls, which makes it long enough to be an almost-maxi on women of average height. Audrey’s skirt isn’t tulle but it is flowy and a touch longer than midi-length. The simplicity of the skirt works well with the textured top.