Haute couture takes center stage at Nadeau's on Saturday, May 14

Haute couture This stunning evening dress is one of many Christian Dior dresses being sold May 14.  It was owned and worn by a prominent New York socialite. Photo: Nadeau's Auction Gallery

A prominent New York City socialite (we don't know who) has passed away, leaving behind an astounding couture collection with an estimated retail value of $2 million. These items – which include dresses and gowns, shoes, purses, handbags and accessories – will come up for bid on Saturday, May 14th, at Nadeau's Auction Gallery in Windsor, Connecticut. The designer names will be a who's who from the world of high fashion: Chanel, Christian Dior, Arnold Scaasi, Mary McFadden, Givenchy, Gianni Versace, Adolfo, Ungaro, Balmain, Bill Blass and others.

Also sold will be pieces by Gucci, Oscar de la Renta, Burberry, Marc Jacobs, St. John, Escada, Moschino, Pierre Cardin, Maximillian, Valentino, Akris, Ballantyne, Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Rena Lange, Carolina Herrera and Nina Ricci. “Many of these clothing pieces and other items have only been worn once, and many were never worn at all and still have the original tag,” said Ed Nadeau of Nadeau’s Auction Gallery. “This auction will offer a rare and exciting glimpse into the closet of an elite, fashion-minded New York socialite.”
Sculpture by Zhan Wang could hit $9 000, or maybe $3 million

Sculpture by Zhan Wang This 2002 stainless steel sculpture is by Chinese sculptor Zhan Wang (b. 1962), titled Artificial Rock #53, will be sold May 15, but for how much? Photo: Louis J. Dianni, LLC

Sometimes it's hard to assign an artwork a sensible pre-auction estimate. There are so many variables to consider, and that often leads to educated guesswork on the part of the cataloger or auction house. Case in point: a stainless steel sculpture by the Chinese sculptor Zhan Wang (b. 1962) titled Artificial Rock #53. Created in 2002, the work is able to be displayed in more than one orientation. It was purchased at a New York gallery in 2004 for $9 000 (the invoice is included in the lot), but prices for Wang’s sculptures have exceeded $3 million for larger works.

The sculpture is part of an internet, phone and absentee bid auction being held on Sunday, May 15th, by Louis J. Dianni, LLC, of Sunrise, Florida. Dianni has gone decidedly conservative on its pre-sale estimate, pegging it at $10 000-$20 000. The actual selling price is anyone's guess, but one thing is certain: the winning bidder will own a valuable artwork. Since 1993, Zhan Wang's creations have been showcased in over 125 exhibits, 24 of which were solo exhibitions. Today, he is highly sought after by collectors. We'll report on the hammer price in a future report.
Andrew Wyeth's hands, in bronze and on canvas, will be sold May 18

Andrew Wyeth's hands Photo caption: Some might question whether this artwork constitutes a self-portrait, but when the artist is Andrew Wyeth, just the hands and nothing more are apparently enough. Photo: Bonhams

What Bonhams is describing as “a poignant self-portrait by one of America's greatest and most beloved 20th century artists” (they're referring to Andrew Wyeth) will be sold at Bonham's American Art Sale on Wednesday, May 18th, in New York City. The painting, titled Breakup, depicts a pair of hands seemingly emerging from a large ice floe. It was inspired by dramatic weather during the winter of 1999, in the region of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, where the artist lived and worked all of his life. The 1994 work, signed by Wyeth, is expected to bring $1.5 million-$2.5 million.

But wait – there's more. The hands depicted in the painting were Wyeth’s own, copied from bronze casts commission by his wife, Betsy James Wyeth, and modeled by his orthopaedic surgeon. A bronze set of the hands will be offered with the lot, originally gifted to the present owner by the artist’s wife. The meaning of Breakup has been the subject of a number of different interpretations. Wyeth was an artist who favored communication through symbols and metaphors. Several other works by Wyeth, as well as paintings by his father Newell and son Jamie, will also be in the auction.

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