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Spring sale March 29-31 2022, results

If this spring auction had to be summed up in two adjectives, the best one would be ‘unpredictably successful’, in that order. The most eagerly awaited lots remained unsold but there were plenty of surprises in the various Modern, Classic and Paper sessions. Below report with hammer prices (excl. commission 22/ 25 or 28%).

The results achieved for a series of antique furniture items that had to be sold by order of the Public Prosecutor’s Office within the framework of a judicial investigation also did not go unnoticed. Thus, an early 18th century Queen Anne cheek armchair (lot 649) fetched € 5000, a ‘bachelor’s chest’ (lot 651) € 11000 and a French buffet with an upright that has been handed down to us with traces of old polychromy (lot 654) € 10000. A long trestle table (lot 658) changed hands for € 6500 and a double sided desk from ca. 1720, also from Axel Vervoordt, surprised just about every one present, online and in the hall, and was hammered down to a round € 100,000 (lot 650).

A copper panel by Peter I Verhulst (Dorpskermis, lot 590) did indeed tempt a collector at € 24,000, but for the other landscapes by 17th century contemporaries, the bids did not materialise. An unexpected turn of events, however, was taken by a canvas by a 19th century artist, who has so far remained anonymous. The ‘model in studio’, painted from an exceptional standpoint, estimated at € 800/1200, was fought for up to € 18000 (lot 760). A typical Verboeckhoven (lot 684) did not disappoint either and was awarded € 13000.

A striking disappointment in the Moderns session was the 1922 ‘Opus 31′ by one of the strong holders of the Belgian avant-garde, Victor Servranckx (lot 385). However, a 1995 “Ovalie” by LA artist Kenny Scharf fetched € 22000 (lot 415) and Victor Vasarely’s 1948 work painted on stone did meet expectations (lot 386, res.: € 14000).

A polygonal bar cabinet (lot 475, res.: € 10500), attributable to Ico and Luisa Parisi, was also easily purchased, as were other design pieces such as a table by Christian Krekels (lot 526, res.: € 8000). Sam Dillemans’ self-portrait (lot 417) proved to be worth as much as a large canvas by Jan Cobbaert (lot 392, res.: € 8000) and from the small collection of works by Felix De Boeck, ‘Zelfgave’ (lot 400) proved to be the most valuable (res.: € 3800).

At the last session, that of 30 March, 383 lots of ‘paper’ were offered, ranging from valuable old books, modern prints and drawings to contemporary editions, from Ptolemy to Rinus Van de Velde.

A beautiful atlas of the Greek astrologer was offered, a Venetian edition of 1599 (lot 1014), which sold on the telephone to a French customer for € 5200.

What was striking was that, from the very first lot, the bidding and buying was good and consistent, both in the hall and online and on the phone. For example, the drawing by the Japanese grandmaster Hokusai (lot 1034) was sold online to a foreign customer for € 15000.

After the first old section, we immediately dived into the 20th century with numerous rarer art books and publications, including the inevitable Marcel Broodthaers. A set of his ‘Lettres Ouvertes’ (lot 1082) was chased to € 2600. A little later it was the turn of the duo ‘Bezette Stad’ (lot 1092) and ‘La Fin du Monde filmée par l’Ange N.-D.’ (lot 1093), both unexpected (lot 1093), both indestructible classics, as it turned out, as Van Ostaijen again effortlessly fetched € 1300 while Cendrars’ masterpiece sold for a fair € 2000.

The fascinating chapter of interbellum graphics was broached with a small selection of Ensor prints (lots 1118 – 1124), with results ranging from € 1100 to € 4600, the latter for his second plate of ‘La Cathédrale’ (lot 1124).

Amongst the drawings from the same period, it was the Dutch artist Pieter Van der Hem (lots 1151-52) who claimed all the attention with top results of € 3500 and € 9000, closely followed by our own Jos Leonard (lot 1176) with € 4000 for a rare abstract drawing from the former Verbaet collection.

It was clear in advance that the focus of the auction would be on post-war and contemporary art, and so it happened. A small occasional drawing by the Catalan master Joan Miró (lot 1190) in a catalogue of his work from 1958 fetched € 3500, while a rare print by his compatriot Alexander Calder (lot 1243) found a new buyer at € 5500.

A beautiful 1978 drawing by Christian Dotremont was offered under lot 1202. Days before the auction, the interest in this piece was already evident from the prebids that were placed. Yet it was not until the telephone that the dispute was settled and the hammer fell after a fierce battle at € 34000. The same honour almost fell to Rinus Van de Velde (lot 1227), as his 2015 drawing ‘You will never be lonely, I promise’ knocked down an equally impressive €22000 with a buyer on the phone.