Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Time for Martignette is now! Elvgren, Vargas, Leyendecker and Rockwell ready for the block

July 14, 2009
Posted by Noah

Try as I might, I just can't make myself sick of The Charles Martignette Estate. I've written about the incredible 4300 piece collection, and been back and forth to our Slocum Street location a few miles from Heritage HQ here on Maple Avenue in Dallas, and I simply have not tired of seeing these incredible canvases. The first auction from the collection - a mere smidge of the total at around 400 pieces - will go on the block tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. Dallas time. The auction floor, literal and virtual, should be packed, and the bidding should be intense. Most of these pieces have never been offered on the open market before and I, for one, expect a free-for-all.

Have I mentioned how much I love this stuff? And to further sweeten the pot -as if it could be any sweeter than seeing Elvgrens, Vargas, Rockwells, Leyendeckers, Cornwells, Bolles and Morans up close and personal - and as a compliment to the coverage the collection and tomorrow's auction have already gotten in the antiques, art and auction press, the Associated Press Dallas's Jamie Stengle wrote an excellent article currently making its way to thousands of outlets around the world. It's a good piece that explores Martignette's "quirkiness" as she put it, but also his simply amazing collection.

Here's a link to the article, and a taste of what she wrote: "Charles Martignette's love of illustration art had largely gone unseen, an incredible collection tucked away in storage rooms and a sprawling warehouse before his death. But as auctioneers prepare for an expected $20 million sale, thousands of pieces of art — from scantily clad pinup girls to wholesome works by Norman Rockwell — will come out of the dust.

"Martignette's roughly 4,300 pieces of art will be up for bidding during a series of auctions at Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas beginning Wednesday, just more than a year after he died at age 57. Auctions will continue over the next two years with some pieces expected to draw tens of thousands of dollars each.

"He was at the very forefront of collecting this type of material. He was very quirky, very eccentric, but he was also very clever. What he ended up with was the very best examples," said Edward Jaster, Heritage's vice president.

Thanks Jamie!

If you still haven't had a chance to see the art yet, I do heartily recommend that you follow this link to the auction and spend some time familiarizing yourself with the work; you'll be seeing a lot more of it in the future, and the value will only rise. There will never be another collection like this, or a provenance as unimpeachable.

I mean, think about it: The collection is worth $20 million. Can you even begin to imagine how many pieces of art that is? Or how much space it took to store it?... It's mind-boggling to say the least, and a lot of fun to hear from the folks here at Heritage who were among those who waded in to his warehouses after his death. The boxes and such were, literally, piled to the ceiling, packed like sardines. Not even Martignette knew anymore what exactly was in there. He may be dead now, but his legacy will be lasting and important.

Last but not least, as we wait for the auction tomorrow, I want to say goodbye to the painting above here, James Avati's masterpiece for the cover of Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye Berlin, the book that became the musical and the movie Cabaret. It is the one piece, above every single one, that I covet the most and would do anything for. Had I an extra $10K or so sitting around, or if my longed-for suitcase of money shows up, then there would be no contest for it. The bidding is already above $6,000, so I'm obviously not the only one to recognize the genius of this painting and thus, alas, it will not be so, unless a sympathetic blog reader decides I am worth getting such a gift. And I am...I am...

I love this painting for a lot of reasons, none of which I have room to write about here. Suffice it to say, she's beautiful and looks like a cool lady and a ton of fun. Had I a time machine, I would go back to 1950s Berlin and find her, and make her mine, which I have about as much chance of doing as I do of being able to buy this painting tomorrow. A bloger can dream, though, can't he?

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-Noah Fleisher

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