Friday, May 9, 2008

Bonhams African and Oceanic Auction - May 15, 2008

Today I visited Bonhams at their new New York location. Located in the IBM building, the auction house occupies the old Dahesh Museum space. Clearly Bonhams is committed to growing their US operations by taking such a highly visible and expensive space.

The auction consists of 300 lots. A number of pieces are from the Bohlen collection. The Bohlens (Bob Bohlen and his wife Lillian) spent the last few years aggresively building an African collection with the help of Michael Kan. They are now disposing of their collection, largely through Bonhams and Sotheby's. I had the pleasure of visiting the collection a few years ago. Most of their southern African pieces are being sold at Bonhams, including an attractive Zulu meat platter (lot 791), a figurative headrest (described as Zulu but probably Tsonga-Shangaan - lot 797) and a 3-tined snuff container (lot 798). I felt that the estimates are a little ambitious for these items.

Overall, I found the quality better than the previous Bonhams New York auction and it will be interesting to see how the sale does.