Malcolm S. Forbes Collection highlights $1 million decorative arts auction

DALLAS, TX – More than 100 extraordinary objects formerly displayed in the Forbes Galleries in New York City drew frenzied bidding from around the globe to help Heritage Auctions reach a total of more than $1 million in its June 1 Signature® Decorative Arts & Design and Gentleman Collector Auctions at the company’s Design District Annex in Dallas. All prices mentioned below include 19.5 percent buyer’s premium.
“The Forbes property was 100 percent sold,” said Nicholas Dawes, Vice President of Special Collections at Heritage, “and most lots went well within or above estimate.” Malcolm Forbes titled this main collection “Mortality through Immortality,” a variety of objects commemorating and celebrating long-gone – and long-forgotten – heroes from distant historic, military and civic endeavors and events. 
“It was his personal time machine,” said Dawes, “able to transport you to a precise moment in history through tangible contact.”
Further highlights from the Forbes Collection include:  

  • A George  III silver trophy cup and cover, one of several in the Forbes Collection and the opening lot, set the tone by taking $4,481.
  • Strong interest from chess, political and historical memorabilia collectors took a 1897 chess piece, made from a section of transatlantic telegraph cable to commemorate a match played between the US House of Representatives and the British Parliament, to a final bid of $7,170.
  • Among the compelling Forbes WWI artifacts, this British silver commemorative statuette stood out at $1,374.
  • The top lot of the Forbes Collection was this extraordinary aluminum relic of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster, made into a bar stool, which took $14,340 after a powerful bidding battle.
  • Among the lots from other consignors, a “Bulldog” cane opened the bidding on a large collection, and sold for $1,315 after receiving more than a dozen bids.
  •  Vintage motoring mascots proved extremely popular, beginning with arare 1925 model by Georges Poitvin, which found a new owner at $7,170. 

The collection was split between two auctions, held back-to-back during the day, with most offered in the “Gentleman Collector” afternoon event, which featured diverse property from several other American and European private collections, including a fine group of vintage walking canes, an important collection of motoring mascots, exquisite French boxes, ocean liner memorabilia and a fascinating group of period decorative objects related to the sport of golf.

This Karl Müller-designed and signed Union Porcelain Works Centennial Vase, manufactured in Greenpoint, NY, circa 1876-1885, sold for $47,800. The only other known signed example is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A Karl Müller-designed and signed Union Porcelain Works Centennial Vase, manufactured in Greenpoint, NY, circa 1876-1885, sold for $47,800. “The result on this vase is spectacular by any account,” said Tim Rigdon, Director of Decorative Arts at Heritage. “There are likely only about 16 of these vases known and we’ve seen none in better condition. Add impeccable provenance and history and it’s easy to see why an advanced collector thought enough of this piece to pay $47,800.”
The baluster-form Centennial Vase with sculpted North American bison head handles, portrait medallion of George Washington to either side, and a series of relief plaques at the base depicting scenes of America’s history during its first century, was created for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.
“The design of this vase is based on a pair of earlier vases and measures 10 inches shorter than the original design,” added Rigdon. “This vase is one of a pair – the other example of which sold for $28,680 in Heritage’s May 21 Grand Format Americana & Political Memorabilia Auction – but is of particular significance as it’s incised with the designer’s signature under the shoulder of the relief of Washington.”
The only other known signed example is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it has been suggested that the inscription, combined with hand detailing seen in this example and its mate, indicates Muller’s personal hand.
Further highlights include, but are not limited to:

  • Several gem, mineral and precious metal floral studies by Cartier resulted in strong sales. Two separate studies led the way with a lot of two hardstone, gold and rock crystal floral studies of Raspberry and Blackberry plants bringing $3,107, a mark that was matched by a trio of three hardstone, gold and rock crystal studies of  Strawberry, Jacob’s Ladder and Dutchman’s Breeches plants. A single hardstone, gold and rock crystal floral study of a Lily plant provided significant bidding fireworks as it rose to finish the day at $2,629.
  • A pair of Diego Giacometti Bronze Chien et Faucon Lamps: Paris, France, circa 1965. Unmarked. The lamps, purchased in the early 1970s from a Palm Beach estate, are accompanied by a certificate of authentication issued by Denis Vincenot on January 21, 2011. Realized: $38,850.  
  • A French Gilt Wood and marble Pier Table with Gilt Bronze Mounts: Unknown maker, probably Paris, France, circa 1840. Unmarked. Realized: $38,838.
  • Tiffany Studios Leaded Glass and Gilt Bronze Lamp: Tiffany Studios, Corona, NY, circa 1915. Realized: $15,535.
  • A Patinated Bronze and Stained Glass Pendent Lamp from a fixture from the National Farmer’s Bank, Owatonna, by Louis H. Sullivan and George Grant Elmslie, circa 1908: Manufactured by Winslow Brothers Company, Chicago, Illinois. This piece was originally one of four pendents hanging from a series of fixtures mounted above the teller’s station of Louis Sullivan’s acclaimed masterpiece, the National Farmer’s Bank of Owatonna, MN. The pendent was removed from the bank in the 1940 renovation. Realized: $13,145.
  • George Nakashima Cherry Credenza with burlap cloth lined doors: Manufactured at the Nakashima workshop in New Hope, PA, circa 1970. Marks: in pencil to back MCFADDEN, #3179. Realized: $11,353.


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