Auction brings in more than predicted

Haussner's: The two-day Sotheby's sale of the restaurant's art collection nets $11.3 million.

November 04, 1999|By JACQUES KELLY | JACQUES KELLY,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- Dealers and collectors gobbled up sculptures, busts of Roman emperors and porcelains yesterday on the second day of the Haussner's restaurant auction, pushing the receipts from the sale to more than $11 million.

Two hours of vigorous bidding at Sotheby's auction rooms netted $1.2 million for the 114 lots sold -- on top of $10.1 million spent Tuesday for paintings from the landmark Highlandtown restaurant.

Pre-sale estimates had placed the value of the collection at around $7 million.

"They did very well," said dealer Robert Bahssin of Larchmont, N.Y. "They certainly made more money here in one day than they did in their restaurant."

Earlier in the afternoon, he paid more than $6,000 for a bronze figure of a boy playing with a rabbit by Jonathan Hart.

In addition to about 100 people at the sale, auctioneers fielded telephone bids from European and Asian dealers and collectors.

The high price of the afternoon went for a pair of gilt candelabra in the style of the French King Louis XV. The machine-gun-like bidding stopped at $74,000.

"These are the collectors and dealers who really knew what they wanted to buy. It was a fabulous day," said Kimberley George Brune, granddaughter of William and Frances Haussner, the restaurateurs who amassed the art collection. She sat quietly throughout the sale and occasionally left the room to place a call back to Baltimore.

"Today was fantastic," said Michael Borghi, a Manhattan art dealer. "The bidding was fast and furious. It is not often that a collection like this hits the market."

Bidders paid little attention to the damaged condition of some pieces. A bronze sculpture of four riders mounted on horseback, dated 1884, was missing several horsemen's hands.

Nevertheless, it brought $40,250 as five bidders competed against each other to own the work by E.M. Lanceray.

A pair of Vienna-style vases, one with its top missing, brought more than $7,000.

Several pieces returned to Baltimore. Restaurateur Ted Julio, owner of Della Notte Ristorante in Little Italy, bought three marble busts of Roman figures, including Germanicus and Octavius.

A pair of marble busts of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain commanded competitive bidding.

When bidders' paddles stopped darting into the air, auctioneer Christina Prescott-Walker said "sold" at $46,000.

The marble head of Emperor Nero sold for $7,000. Caligula in marble went for $16,000. Alexander the Great fetched $28,750.

A 1922 bronze figure of George Washington on horseback by Henry Merwin Shrady was hammered down for $11,000 in 52 seconds of bidding.

Baltimore antiques dealer James Judd sat in the audience with his wife Barbara. "I knew this collection would go high," Judd said. "There was so much curiosity about it within the arts community."

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