Following Wednesday’s record-setting auction in New York, in which Christie’s International sold $853 million worth of contemporary art by the likes of Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and Willem de Kooning, our attention has been focused on the world of bidding. Auction houses provide once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to acquire original art, rare objects, first editions, and one-of-a-kind pieces, and, as Wednesday night proved, with the right strategy, eager collectors (like those shown above at an auction held by TSG Chicago and Palm Beach’s Leslie Hindman Auctioneers) who have their eye on the prize can go home with a museum-worthy piece in their private collection.
While landing a coveted piece is an exciting prospect, it can be intimidating for first-time bidders to enter the auction arena. Therefore, we asked Leslie Hindman of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers (shown above) to walk us through what an auction novice should know before picking up a paddle. From fine jewelry to French furniture, the estate of Lily Pulitzer to the Gary Pepper collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia, Leslie Hindman has handled some of the most high-profile and highly publicized auctions since the company’s founding in 1982, so first-timers are definitely in good hands.
5 Tips for an Auction Novice from Leslie Hindman
1) Explore the auction world. Auctions are great for finding distinct items, but first you need to discover what you really like—paintings, furniture, jewelry or other collectibles. Invest time learning about these things and then buy what suits your taste. The first rule of collecting is to only buy what you love, because you can never be guaranteed it will appreciate in value.
2) Do your research. The internet has made it extremely easy to follow the art market, and thanks to online auction record databases like bidsquare.com, artnet.com, askart.com, artprice.com, and artinfo.com, collectors can easily and efficiently track the market. You should also take your research offline by speaking with and asking the opinions of auction house experts.
3) Request condition reports. Most auction items are sold “as-is.” To be fully aware of the item’s current state, request condition reports from the auction house and, if possible, visit the auction exhibition before it’s time to bid (many auction houses display upcoming auction items the week prior to the auction). If an in-person examination is not possible, a discussion with a specialist is an excellent tool, and you should request additional images of pieces from several angles, including any significant stamps or signatures.
4) Get ready to bid. When you decide to bid on an item, be sure to understand the conditions of sale and buyer’s premium, and figure this into what you are ultimately willing to pay. If possible, sit in on another auction beforehand and observe the process—it’s important to see that lots are sold quickly and a quick decision is required. Be aware of the many ways to bid: you can attend the auction in person, register for a telephone bid, leave an absentee bid, or bid online. And register in advance to avoid potential last-minute complications.
5) Know your limit. Prevent yourself from getting carried away in the excitement and competition! Know the highest price you’re willing to pay and stick to it unless you really love the item. Sometimes it’s worth making an exception and going a few bids higher than you had intended for something truly special.
In case anyone is still hesitant after reading Hindman’s advice, we’ve picked a few of our favorite pieces from the catalog for the upcoming Leslie Hindman fine jewelry auction, which will be held on December 7th, as further enticement. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to place your bids!
For those who love to sparkle
1. Lot 287: An Important Platinum and Pear Shape Diamond Ring, retailed by Richters, containing one pear shape modified brilliant cut diamond weighing approximately 10.04 carats and two pear shape diamonds weighing approximately 1.73 carats total.
2. Lot 391: A Platinum, Yellow Gold, Diamond and Emerald Bracelet, composed of alternating intertwined rows of emeralds and diamonds on the diagonal, containing 90 marquise shape brilliant cut diamonds weighing approximately 12.75 carats total, eight round brilliant cut diamonds weighing approximately 2.00 carats total and 104 round mixed cut emeralds weighing approximately 12.48 carats total.
3. Lot 64: An Edwardian Platinum Topped Gold, Ruby and Diamond Pendant/Brooch, consisting of a platinum openwork design overlaid on an intricate gold honeycomb motif ground, containing one old European cut diamond weighing approximately 0.16 carat, 17 calibre cut rubies weighing approximately 0.34 carat total and 107 old mine, old European and single cut diamonds weighing approximately 4.67 carats total, hinged bail allows wear as pendant.
4. Lot 109: A Graduated Triple Strand Natural Pearl Necklace, consisting of three graduated strands containing 161 pearls measuring approximately 4.90-7.75 mm in diameter strung knotted with a yellow gold circular clasp containing four pearls (origin not tested) and five round cabochon cut emeralds.
5. Lot 110: An 18 Karat Gold, Emerald and Diamond Ring, containing one square step cut emerald weighing approximately 2.20 carats and two old European cut diamonds weighing approximately 2.34 carats and 2.43 carats respectively.
6. Lot 72: A Fine Platinum, Sapphire, Diamond and Emerald Pendant/Brooch, Tiffany & Co., Circa 1912, of lozenge form, centered around an oval cabochon cut sapphire measuring approximately 7.50 x 6.40 x 3.97 mm within a bezel with millegrain edgework surrounded by an intricate openwork foliate motif containing four shield cut emeralds and numerous old European cut diamonds weighing approximately 0.80 carat total, the inner border channel set with alternating rectangular calibre cut sapphires and emeralds, the outer fringe containing four old European cut diamonds at the compass points weighing approximately 0.48 carat total and 48 old European cut diamonds weighing approximately 0.33 carat total, double gallery, detachable brooch fitting, collapsible bail allows wear as pendant, together with a platinum chain. Hand inscribed: TIFFANY & Co.
7. Lot 141: A Pair of Edwardian Yellow Gold, Platinum, Emerald and Diamond Earrings, containing four octagonal step cut emeralds weighing approximately 2.28 carats total within gold bezel settings suspending and surrounded by fleur-de-lys motif platinum work containing numerous old mine cut and single cut diamonds weighing approximately 0.30 carat total, the bases supporting two millegrain edged bezel set elongated pear shape diamonds weighing approximately 0.66 carat total.
8. Lot 48: An Art Deco Platinum and Diamond Ring, Marcus & Co., containing one old European cut diamond weighing approximately 1.55 carats, one old European cut diamond weighing approximately 1.51 carats, and 34 round single cut diamonds weighing approximately 0.40 carat total within an openwork setting with double horizontal central design and intricate filigree double gallery.
For those who Go for the gold
1. Lot 302: A Yellow Gold and Diamond Bib Necklace, consisting of 20 beaded strands of graduated lengths punctuated at regular intervals with 87 round brilliant cut diamonds weighing approximately 1.83 carats total.
2. Lot 699: A Pair of 18 Karat Yellow Gold and Diamond Hoop Earrings, containing 132 round brilliant cut diamonds weighing approximately 0.80 carat total.
3. Lot 302: A Victorian Yellow and Rose Gold Slide Longchain, consisting of a yellow gold woven necklace with a rose gold slide, rose gold beads and woven tassels.
4. Lot 282: An 18 Karat Yellow Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Emerald and Polychrome Enamel Tiger Bracelet, David Webb, Circa 1965, depicting a stylized tiger biting its tail, consisting of a finely articulated graduated link design with white and black enamel detail extending from the looped tail to the sculpted head with round cabochon cut emerald eyes and rope texture neck accented with 15 round brilliant cut diamonds weighing approximately 1.00 carat total.
5. Lot 940: A Pair of Yellow Gold, Polychrome Enamel, Synthetic Ruby, Diamond and Cultured Pearl Earrings, in a Mughal style, containing lasque cut diamonds, cultured pearls, synthetic cut rubies and polychrome enamel in foliate motifs, reverse side depicting a floral and fish motif in polychrome enamel.
6. Lot 290: An 18 Karat Yellow Gold Necklace, Lalaounis, in an architectural revival motif, the front composed of a triple foxtail link chain design strung with textured tubes and gathered by a round caps with leaf texture fluting, the front supporting nine graduated pendants in hammered and brushed textures with millegrain edgework measuring approximately 22.60-26.00 mm in diameter, to the single foxtail link backchain and wirework hook-and-eye closure.
7. Lot 575: An 18 Karat Yellow Gold, Cultured Pearl and Diamond Portrait Miniature Pendant/Brooch, Italian,
consisting of a central portrait miniature depicting a lady in period dress within a surround of 39 pearls measuring approximately 3.00 mm in diameter, brooch measuring approximately 44.00 x 37.00 mm, collapsible bail allowing wear as pendant.
8. Lot 675: A 14 Karat Gold, Mother-of-Pearl and Seed Pearl Dress Set, consisting of a pair of cufflinks with mother-of-pearl centers and four round seed pearls measuring approximately 2.25-2.34 mm in diameter and three dress buttons with mother-of-pearl centers and three round seed pearls measuring approximately 2.25-2.34 mm in diameter.
9. Lot 24: An Etruscan Revival Yellow Gold, Enamel and Diamond Demi Parure, Fontenay, consisting of an oval brooch centered around a polychrome enamel plaque depicting a seminude maiden in flowing white and pink raiment holding a serpent and a golden dish in her hands amidst a wooded scene, the plaque surrounded by a row containing numerous rose cut diamonds and a beaded border above the base accented with applied wirework and textured disks, together with a matching pair of drop earrings, the plaques depicting putti carrying vessels amidst rose cut diamond, applied wirework and textured gold surrounds.
10. Lot 87: A Yellow Gold and Essex Crystal Fox Brooch, J. E. Caldwell, consisting of a round cabochon cut rock crystal measuring approximately 27.00 mm in diameter carved on the reverse and hand painted in a realistic fox head motif against the mother-of-pearl backing, within a fluted polished gold surround.
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers // Chicago, IL // 312.280.1212