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"Restaurant" Tops Maine Auction

Hannah Pennington | October 23rd, 2013


George Grosz (1893-1959), No. 73 Restaurant, watercolor, 17" x 24", sold for $180,000 to a buyer in house. The painting is headed for the Lunder collection at the Colby College Museum of Art.


At the Fountain, a 10¼" x 14" oil on canvas by Arthur Frederick Bridgman (1847-1928), produced a frenzy of phone bidders and eventually sold to one of them for $20,400 (est. $6000/9000).


William Bradford (1823-1892), Iceberg off the Newfoundland Coast, oil on canvas, 16" x 24", sold for $38,400 to a phone bidder.


Ivan Choultse (Russian, 1877-1932), Vue sur Monte Carlo, oil on canvas, 26" x 32", sold for $33,600 to an on-line bidder.


Anthony Thieme (1888-1954), Wet Morning, oil on canvas, 30" x 36", sold for $36,000.


Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009), From Stone Island, watercolor, 17¾" x 21½", sold for $57,600.


Walt Kuhn (1877-1949), Cuban Girl, oil on canvas, 30" x 25", sold for $30,000 to a phone bidder.


Abbott Graves (1859-1936), In the Garden, oil on canvas, 24" x 20", sold for $57,600 to a phone bidder.

Barridoff Galleries, Portland, Maine

Photos courtesy Barridoff Galleries

The American and European art auction by Barridoff Galleries on October 23, 2013, was held at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the Maine College of Art (MECA) in downtown Portland, Maine. As has become the norm for these sales, there was a healthy crowd, and the overall atmosphere was jovial and light. This was especially impressive considering a Red Sox playoff game that was taking place that night. Even New England art lovers are passionate about baseball. William O’Reilly, the auctioneer who usually works these sales, opened with a joke: “For most of you, we wish Boston well this evening.”

At the start of the sale most chairs were taken, and people were standing in the hallways and leaning against any free wall space they could find. Though there were many people in attendance, it was clear that the Internet and phone bidders still played a large part in the success of the sale. Nearly every high-price artwork was sold to a bidder out of house.

Rob Elowitch, gallery co-owner with his wife, Annette, had this to say in response, “Phones and on-line bidding are becoming more and more the rule. I’m glad we still had a good audience in person. Many auctions, especially art auctions, don’t anymore.”

A watercolor by George Grosz, No. 73 Restaurant, was featured on the front of the sale’s catalog and became the highest seller of the night. It sold for $180,000 (includes buyer’s premium) to collector Peter Lunder and will be given to the Colby College Museum of Art as part of the Peter and Paula Lunder Collection. Lunder was underbid by five phone bidders.

Located in Waterville, Maine, Colby College is considered a “little Ivy League” college along with Bowdoin and Bates in Maine and a number of New England “little Ivies.” According to the Colby College Web site Colby’s art museum was founded in 1959. “In 1999, with a lead gift from Peter and Paula Lunder, a new wing opened for the exhibition of Colby’s growing collection of American art…In 2007, Peter and Paula Lunder, longtime benefactors of the Museum, promised their outstanding collection to Colby College. The gift included more than 500 works of art.”

An article by Laura Beach in The Magazine Antiques (May/June 2013, pp. 104-15) tells more about the Lunders and their generosity. “A 1956 Colby graduate and member of the museum’s board of governors, Peter Lunder succeeded his uncle Harold Alfond as president of the Dexter Shoe Company. The family sold the business to Berkshire Hathaway in 1993.” The Lunders are described as personally modest and passionate about Maine and Waterville, where they raised their children and where Paula began volunteering at Colby’s art museum and “really got a sense of what was going on. What impressed me most, truthfully, was the passionate engagement of students and professors.” By the 1990’s “the Lunders had committed to underwriting the cost of a new wing, completed in 1999. They promised their entire collection to Colby in 2007 [as mentioned above]. With an accompanying gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation” they provided the new Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion, which opened in July 2013 to rave reviews.

When Rob Elowitch learned that Peter Lunder was the winner of No. 73 Restaurant, he had nothing but joy to express. “I am thrilled beyond compare. This means so much to us. We were also the source of Lunder’s first important art purchases many, many years ago. About ten pieces are on display in the museum he basically built that came from us, a few of them of real significance, but this one I am most proud of. Peter didn’t know about it until I called him and spoke with Colby just four days before the sale! Colby must have told him what a great addition this would make to the collection,” he said.

Other notable sales included a watercolor by Andrew Wyeth, From Stone Island. It sold for $57,600 (est. $70,000/90,000). The oil on canvas In the Garden by Abbott Graves sold for $57,600 to a phone bidder. William Bradford’s Iceberg off the Newfoundland Coast, oil on canvas, brought $38,400 and was also sold to a phone bidder. Another oil on canvas, Wet Morning by Anthony Thieme, brought $36,000.

For more information, contact Annette and Rob Elowitch at (207) 772-5011, or via the Web site (www.barridoff.com).


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

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