What's It Worth? That Old Thing In The Corner

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While we have several professionals who do home and corporate visits, often traveling statewide and nationally, I was intrigued when a woman from Connecticut called a few weeks ago to settle a family estate here in Tampa Bay. The 1940s Tampa Bay mansion was being sold and they needed to get rid of the contents of the 16 rooms. I went on this house call myself, as she had mentioned they had silver, antique books, art glass and paintings. When I arrived, the heirs were accommodating and friendly and let me look at almost everything. Sadly, most of the items were what we call in the business “brown antiques.” Popular in the 1970s–1990s, they are things like brown furniture and cow paintings and other items from that period that are of little value today. The heir’s relatives had very good taste in their day and what I would have given to see them when they were popular! I did buy a small painting for $1,000 and a few knick-knacks. When I was leaving, I spotted a small seascape painted on a cigar box lid sitting in a corner. I immediately recognized it as a Childe Hassam, one of America’s most famous impressionists, who worked in the Hamptons to Maine. It was in disrepair and quite soiled, but original. I asked my host why it was in the corner. She replied, “I thought it was pretty; so I’m taking it back North and putting it on a wall.” I told her I could sell it at auction and gave a modest auction estimate of $20,000 to $30,000; and that if I did my job right, it might even be more. Entitled Isles of Shoals, it is a stunning painting of a sunrise and we were able to achieve a price of just under $50,000 in our auction last week. By the way, the demantoid garnet and diamond encrusted bug/beetle brooch (which we called a B-roach, left) from last Sunday’s column sold for $7,500 at auction. We had given the seller a modest auction estimate of $3,000-$5,000, so he was quite pleased as well. Need transparency when selling? Why not deal with Tampa Bay’s most successful and robust auction house, Hess Fine Auctions? Three former Sothebys.com associates and two art historians on staff. Call or email us if you want to deal with Tampa Bay’s leading auctioneer. We have sold the contents of museums and collections for USF. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Hess Fine Art - Buying and Selling since 1984. Art, Jewelry, Watches, and Antiques.

Hess Fine Art, 1131 4th St. N, St. Petersburg FL 33701.

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