: views from the Hill

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Amanda and Dessa done good.

I mentioned that we'd been to a nosh do at Bonhams and Butterfields last Friday.

Good nosh. Good wine. Dessa Goddard, Director, Asian Art, gave her talk walking through some of the more important pieces that were coming up for auction on Tuesday.

The nosh was a treat, the wine drinkable, and Dessa was obviously very much excited about some of the items coming up for auction.

Her pride and joy was an 18" diameter copper-red design Ming dynasty dish that Amanda Miller, specialist, Chinese and Japanese decorative arts, had come across when she'd gone off to a San Francisco home to do an appraisal.

Amanda had come back from the appraisal visit with multiple photos of the dish Is this what I think it is? Dessa said she was standing on the family's front doorstep bright and early the next morning because she could not believe ...

Some dish! An Important Dish! An Important Ming Dynasty Dish! "A rare and important underglaze copper red decorated dish, Hongwu Period."

We heard all about the dish. We were shown pictures and closeups from this angle and that. Top and bottom.

The dish was the belle of the Fall Asian Art auction. Dessa had been to Hong Kong and New York, showing it off. She'd been to London showing it off and getting some renowned someone to write the catalog copy.

Dessa showed it off on Friday evening, holding it while we all took turns getting a closeup look at a dish estimated to sell for $1-2m, yes, million. After we were through, Dessa carefully put the dish on its pedestal and set a plexiglass box on top of it.

A few minutes later, Dessa physically flinched when someone sat on a perch nearby. Too close. Too close. Far too close. A nudge to the pedestal might topple the dish. Dish smashed. B&B's commission down the tubes. ...

"Please," Dessa said. "Don't sit there."

The family to whom the dish belonged had kept it filled with fruit on a sideboard and brought it out to use when they were having a cracked crab feed. Elinor Majors Carlisle, who had bought the dish in China in the twenties, was an entrepreneur back when female entrepreneurs were almost unheard of, a well-known Berkeley suffragette whose father founded the Pony Express.

Best of all worlds there were three very interested bidders on Tuesday. When the hammer fell, Giuseppe Eskenazi, a London Asian Art dealer, had the winning bid: $5.7 million.


The Telegraph version of events and others from Google.

No comments: