Sotheby's Sale of the Collection of Patricia Kluge Totals $15.2 million
Yesterday, Sotheby's, on behalf of billionaire Patricia Kluge, concluded the two-day auction of the contents of Kluge's home, Albemarle House. The sale, which totaled $15.1 million, exceeded pre-sale expectations of $9 million to $14 million.
Collectors, interior designers, and dealers from all over the world participated in the two-day auction. The auction followed the week-long exhibition at Albemarle House, Kluge's 45-room English country manor. The sale was 88.5% sold by lot with 61.5% of the sold lots achieving prices above their high estimates. The $15.2 million achieved brought Sotheby's overall total for sales of property from Kluge's collection (including sixteen pieces of jewelry sold on April 20, 2010) to $20.2 million.
The highlight of the historic sale---the first on-site house sale conducted by Sotheby's in North America in over 20 years--was a magnificent Chinese Imperial Clock (lot 345). The clock, seen above, sold for a jaw-dropping $3.8 million. Created by the Guangzhou Workshops during the Qing Dynasty (Quianlong Period), it sold for more than three times the high estimate of $1 million. It was the third highest price achieved for a clock of its type. Competition was fierce for the Imperial treasure, with five different clients battling over the telephones. Sotheby's auctioneer Lisa Hubbard opened the bidding at $350,000 and four clients quickly entered the fray. A new bidder jumped into the competition with a bid of $1.2 million, and it was that client who, more than six minutes later, cast the winning bid. Extended applause erupted from the packed salesroom when the hammer was finally brought down. The purchaser was a Chinese private collector.
Gallery: The Collection of Patricia Kluge
In addition to the clock, a number of spectacular prices were achieved during the first day of the auction, including a Pair of Classical Landscapes by Hubert Robert, which brought $434,500 (lot 99, est. $200,000 to $300,000); a Set of Six Holland & Holland Wildfowl and Wader Guns, which achieved $350,500 (lot 62, est. $330,000 to $500,000); a Fabergé Silver Centerpiece, which totaled $206,500 (lot 196, est. $40,000 to $60,000); and an Important George III Mahogany Commode attributed to Thomas Chippendale, which sold for $338,500 (lot 67, est. $400,000 to $600,000).
Works across a number of different categories also achieved prices well in excess of their estimates: An Ivory Silvered and Gilt-Bronze-Mounted Mother-of-Pearl, Inlaid Alabaster and Onyx Chess Set, probably Italian, circa 1900, sold for $98,500, soaring past the high estimate of $10,000 (lot 280, est. $7,000 to $10,000); a set of The Lord of the Rings (Trilogy) Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, J.R. Tolkien, London, 1954, brought $17,500 (lot 337, est. $4,000 to $6,000); a Group of Ten English Silver Birds, Asprey, London, 1987 sold for $74,500, (lot 201, est. $5,000 to $8,000); a Pair of Ormolu-Mounted Meissen Porcelain Figures of Seated Pug Dogs sold for $86,500 (lot 121, est. $25,000 to $35,000) and a Fragmentary Bronze Portrait Head of the Emperor Augustus, or a member of the Julio-Claudian Family, Roman Imperial, circa early 1st Century AD, sold for $188,500 (lot 344, est. $100,000 to $150,000).
Leading off the third session of the auction was a Fine and Rare George III Polychrome-Japanned and Mahogany Domed Tester Bedstead, circa 1783, which was pursued by four different bidders, finally selling to a client over the phone for $86,500 (lot 468, est. $30,000 to $50,000). A striking Louis XVI Giltwood Sunburst Clock, circa 1780 was another highlight of the day - more than doubling the high estimate of $10,000 to sell for $27,500 (lot 508). Items from the "Bamboo Bedroom" inspired competition from multiple bidders – A Pair of Faux Bamboo Beds and a Bedside Table sold for $20,000 after a battle between six different potential buyers, soaring above expectations (lot 587, est. $800 to $1,200).
The fourth and final section was led by a selection of jewels and designer gowns including an 18 Karat Gold, Coral and Mabé Pearl Necklace, Paloma Picasso for Tiffany & Co., 1981 which exceeded a high estimate of $9,000 to sell for $43,750 (lot 908), a Pair of 18 Karat Gold, Cultured Pearl and Diamond Pendant-Earclips which brought $30,000 (lot 902, est. $7,500 to $10,000), and an 18 Karat Gold, Cultured Pearl and Diamond Necklace which sold for $27,500 (lot 903, est. $12,000 to $15,000). Of the designer gowns offered, the most sought-after was a Givenchy Black Pleated Gown which was the subject of a battle between two phone bidders, finally selling for $4,375 (lot 883, est. $400 to $600).
The impressive auction catalog is still available for purchase for $73.
Ms. Kluge is the former wife of mogul John Kluge, founder of Metromedia Inc., which pioneered independent TV stations operations through the 1960's and 1970's. Kluge became one of the richest Americans after he sold his company to Rupert Murdoch during the mid-1980's for nearly $2 billion. Kluge made a second fortune in telecommunications and he was also a major owner of Orion Pictures. The Kluge's divorced nearly 20 years ago.
Patricia Kluge, who is remarried, is now pursuing a life as a winemaker and philanthropist. She decided it was time to change her lifestyle. As such, she felt it was time to part with both Albemarle, the enormous estate in Charlottesville, Virginia she called home, and its contents. The Sotheby's auction of Ms. Kluge's world-class jewelry collection in April, was also impressive. Sotheby's sold the Kluge's jewelry during its Magnificent Jewels sale, with many pieces selling for above pre-sale estimates. For example, an impressive pair of platinum and diamond pendant ear clips, set with almost 64 carats of pear-shaped diamonds, sold for just over $1 million, including the buyer's premium (the estimate was $600,000 to $800,000). The collection well-represented Kluge's sophisticated appreciation of workmanship and her refined taste.
Gallery: Patricia Kluge's Magnificent Jewels
If you fell in love with the 23,538-square-feet home (and its eight-bedrooms and 13 baths) while touring it during the preview, you are in luck. Sotheby's International Realty has the listing for the famous home and its price was recently reduced to $48 million. The 300-acre estate was originally listed for $100 million in October 2009.