Important Imperial Russian Silver Box Hits Auction Block for the Second Time
On April 11, William J. Jenack Estate Appraisers and Auctioneers will hold an auction featuring an important Imperial Russian silver box, among other antiques and fine art.
The Russian silver and enamel covered box with a gilt interior has an enameled scene of an 1883 painting, "A Boyar Wedding Feast," by Konstantin Makovsky, signed I.P. Khlebnikov, and measures 1½ by 2½ by 35/8 inches.
Besides being a beautiful work of hand craftsmanship, the silver box is also interesting because of the circumstances surrounding its sale a year and a half ago. In fact, this is the second time William J. Jenack will be selling the silver box because the winning bidder the first time around refused to pay for his purchase.
Indeed, in September 2008, the box was sold at a William J. Jenack auction to a phone bidder for $400,000, which was the result of a heated competition that involved several members of the live audience and half a dozen phone bidders from around the country.
The box, which then had an estimate of $4,000 to $6,000, attracted a great deal of pre-sale attention. "Needless to say, no one anticipated the response that the box achieved," says William J. Jenack, auctioneer and owner of William J. Jenack Estate Appraisers and Auctioneers. "The comparables in the marketplace at that time, never reflected numbers that we were able to accomplish at that time."
Before the box even went up for auction, the auction house received countless calls from interested buyers around the country. "We had people submitting offers to purchase the box before the auction," says Jenack. "Some of the offers were so large---in the $70,000 to $90,000 range---that we realized our pre-sale estimate was way off the mark."
During the 2008 auction, Jenack noticed many people in the audience he did not recognize. The bidding opened at $40,000 and the bidding bounced around the audience until it reached $100,000 when phone bidders entered the competition. "The people in the audience gave up at $150,000 and the phone bidders carried the bidding to $400,000," recalls Jenack.
The silver box was sold for $400,000 (not including a buyers premium of 15% and any applicable taxes) to a phone bidder, who was a Long Island, N.Y.-based dealer who specializes in Imperial Russian works of art.
"The buyer later contacted us to see how much the amount would come to," says Jenack. "We provided him with that information and sent him an invoice." Subsequently, the dealer defaulted on the purchase, and litigation ensued.
In early March, a New York Supreme Court Justice awarded damages against the defaulting purchaser of more than $497,398, representing the successful bid, taxes and buyer's premium. The decision is currently the subject of an appeal in New York State courts.
"Now we have to sell the box again," says Jenack. "Whatever it brings will be deducted from the total that the dealer owes us."
The box is important because it was made by Khlebnikov, who was a craftsman who worked for the House of Fabergé, the jewelry firm in Imperial Russia that designed elaborate jewelry, silver and the famous Easter eggs for the Russian Tsars. Khlebnikov is known to have created objects on his own, such as this piece, without the Fabergé seal of approval. The Khlebnikov box has a pre-sale estimate of $100,000 to $400,000.
The April 11th auction will also highlight Period American, French & Chinese furniture; Chinese & African works of art; American & Continental paintings & prints including signed works after Nikolai Egorovich Sverchkov, Milton Avery, Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky, Bruno del Favero, Rolph Scarlett, Florence Kroeger, Charles Zacharie Landelle; animation art; fine & costume jewelry; small collection of stamps including Duck stamps; door stops; art pottery; Victorian porcelains; Vatican Papal Grand Cross Set of Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem; fossils including a fine ammonite (15 ½ x 18"-approx. 60 lbs) and decorative accessories.
Previews will be held at the William J. Jenack auction facility located at 62 Kings Highway Bypass, Chester NY 10918 on April 7th from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm; April 8th from 2:00 pm to 5:45 pm; April 9th and 10th from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm; and on the day of sale from 9:00 am to 10:45 am. For further information contact (845)469-9095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The catalogue for the sale will be available on-line Friday, April 2nd.
The auction, which will be held live in William J. Jenack gallery, will also be held simultaneously online at www.liveauctioneers.com. It will take place on Sunday, April 11 beginning at 11:00 am. The William J. Jenack website is www.jenack.com.