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Keno Auctions Fall Sale

Lita Solis-Cohen | October 30th, 2013

Yun Gee (Chinese-American, 1906-1963) signed this Double Self Portrait, an 11" x 16½" oil on cardboard, in Chinese script lower left and dated it “12/8/26,” signed “DO/BO/WE” in the middle right, and also signed it on the back in Chinese script and English “Self Portrait/ $40.” It sold for $42,500. The estimate in the catalog was listed as $200/400, but that changed to $10,000/20,000 when the artist was identified during the exhibition. Five phone bidders competed with Internet bidders, and the painting sold to a phone bidder. Yun Gee works were shown at the Marlborough Gallery in New York City in 2005. This painting was the discovery of the sale. Collected directly from the artist, it had been given to the consignor as a wedding gift 50 years ago, and she had no idea what she had until she sold it.

Keno Auctions, New York City

Photos courtesy Keno Auctions

Leigh Keno launched his boutique auctions at his townhouse at 127 East 69th Street in New York City, on October 30, 2013, with 86 diverse lots, fresh to market.

The sale began with a third-phase Navajo chief’s blanket, collected in the last quarter of the 19th century, which sold to the trade for $35,000 (includes buyer’s premium). The last lot sold was a self-portrait by the Chinese-American Fauve artist Yun Gee (1906-1963) that brought $42,500. In between was an E. Howard & Co. astronomical regulator clock, which sold to a collector on the phone for $162,500, and a painting of a Boston woman enjoying her morning chocolate, painted early in the 20th century by Charles Webster Hawthorne, which sold for $36,250. At Keno’s first sale in Stamford, Connecticut, in May 2010, Morning Chocolate had sold for $10,710, in the depths of the recession.

Of the 86 lots offered, 69 (about 80%) sold for a respectable total of $807,006—though well below presale estimates because Daniel Garber’s Red Barn failed to reach its too aggressive estimate of $350,000/500,000. Moreover, Willem de Kooning’s last oil painting, consigned by his nurse and touted in early press releases, was withdrawn. It had been estimated at $80,000/100,000.

Keno attracted a small crowd of bidders to the salesroom in his townhouse, but most of the bidding was on phones or on line. LiveAuctioneers provided video streaming, so viewers could see and hear Keno, the auctioneer, as they followed the bidding and bid. The sale started 15 minutes late and moved slowly. It took the first 30 minutes to sell 15 lots! There was some prolonged bidding. An oil on canvas, The Coming Storm by Edmund Darch Lewis, sold on the phone for $20,000 with competition from an absentee bidder and with bidders in the salesroom. It was part of a consignment from the Frederic Remington Art Museum, Ogdensburg, New York.

There were nine phone bidders competing for a zinc model of the Statue of Liberty, which had been found at a tag sale on Long Island, New York. It sold for $37,500. A group of three American Indian textiles that included a Hopi or Zuni wearing blanket sold for $33,750 to a Santa Fe dealer in the salesroom, and a Sioux buffalo hide robe with red, white, and yellow quillwork stripes sold in $1000 increments to a phone bidder for $9375.

For more information, contact Keno Auctions at (212) 734-2381; Web site (

Three woven blankets originally collected by John W. and Martha Summerhayes in the last quarter of the 19th century were offered in a single lot. One was a Hopi or Zuni wearing blanket of two shades of indigo, black, and red wool in subtle stripes, 73½" x 37", with some wear. Another was a Navajo rug from the Ganado area in Arizona with three interlocking serrated diamonds, 68" x 48". The third was a Navajo Germantown single saddle blanket or baby wrap of faded red, black, blue, and white wool in chevron motifs, 25½" x 31". The lot sold for $33,750 (est. $1500/3000) to Jed Foutz of Shiprock, a gallery in Santa Fe, who was in the salesroom.

Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872-1930) painted Morning Chocolate circa 1900. The 36¼" x 36" oil on canvas is signed lower right and sold to a collector on the phone for $36,250 (est. $12,000/18,000). At Leigh Keno’s sale in Stamford, Connecticut, May 1 and 2, 2010, this painting sold for $10,710.

This Crow gun scabbard, made of hide with decorative beadwork in pink, blue, yellow, and red and white beads, circa 1880, is 42" long with 30" fringe. From the Summerhayes collection, the scabbard sold on the phone for $10,625 (est. $2000/3000).


There were nine phone bidders for this 51" high model of the Statue of Liberty, 1878-86, by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi (French, 1834-1904), and it sold on the phone for $37,500. Bartholdi’s signature and copyright number 9939G and date “August 31, 1876” are in the mold. The name of the foundry, Avoiron et Cie, as well as the code letter “A” are cold-stamped on the base. It has a weathered patina; one sheet metal ray is missing from the crown, and the upright arm is separated from the body.

This monumental wall clock by Samuel Ayers of Danville, Kentucky, 1820-30, according to family tradition, was made by Ayers as a gift for his bride when he was an apprentice to a clockmaker. It is 74" x 19¼" x 10". It sold to an on-line bidder together with a portrait miniature of the clockmaker Samuel Ayers for $12,700 (est. $2000/4000).


This circa 1870 astronomical regulator No. 46 clock by E. Howard & Co., Boston, Massachusetts, 117" x 41" x 16", has a dial diameter of 18". It is in a Renaissance Revival case, and the white-painted dial is inscribed “E. HOWARD & CO. BOSTON MASS.” The pendulum is marked 11, one of the earliest serial numbers on an E. Howard regulator. It had been purchased by an Atlanta businessman at auction in Decatur, Georgia, circa 1919. Here the clock sold on the phone for $162,500 (est. $100,000/150,000) to a private collector.

Edmund Darch Lewis (1835-1910) painted The Coming Storm in 1868. The 30" x 49 1/3" oil on canvas is signed lower right and dated 1868 and had been owned by Frederick Haskell of Chicago, who gave it to the Frederic Remington Art Museum, Ogdensburg, New York, in 1935. It sold in the room for $20,000 (est. $3000/5000).

Originally published in the February 2014 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2014 Maine Antique Digest

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