Monday, October 30, 2006

UK Nuclear bunker for auction

A nuclear bunker is up for sale at a disused airfield in Pembrokeshire.

The concrete building with metre-thick walls and steel shutters was built as an RAF communication base in the early 1990s at Templeton, near Tenby.

Auctioneers have put a guide price of £50,000 to £75,000 on the bunker, which will go under the hammer in December.

But they believe the above-ground building will be of interest to someone looking for secure storage, rather than as a home or office.

London-based auctioneers Andrews Robertson are selling the bunker on behalf of the Defence Estates, which is responsible for Ministry of Defence property and land.

Auctioneer Jeremy Lamb said: “There were around 10 to 15 built in the early 1990s by the RAF as communication centres.

“They have been selling them off over a number of years. We have sold some before - most recently south of Oxford

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Arthur James Galleries of Delray Beach, FL chosen over Sotheby’s and Christie’s to handle the sale of art from the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach

Arthur James Galleries of Delray Beach, FL has announced an important two day sale to be conducted in its gallery room on November 14 and 15. Auction owner George Martin said, “This is going to be an exciting sale.” With almost 500 lots crossing the block in the mid week event, the focus will be on the 72 lots from the fabulous Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach. The elegant waterfront resort has been acquired by new owners who are renovating the property in a contemporary motif to the tune of $45 million. A large selection of the original 19th century artwork and decorative art that previously graced the magnificent buildings will be offered for sale. The inventory from the Ritz-Carlton is composed of 42 paintings and 30 decorative arts items including three of the massive marble fireplaces formerly seen in the Ritz.
Featured art will include works by Charles Thomas Bale, English, most active from 1868 to 1875, Ferdinand Victor Leon Roybet, French 1840-1920, Charles Stuart, English, who flourished 1854 – 1868, Sir Godfrey Kneller, English 1646-1723, Edith Scannell, English, active 1870-1921, all estimated in the $5,000 - $10,000 range and a number of other French, Belgian, Italian and Hungarian artists of equal quality.
In addition there will be 110 lots offered that comprise a portion of the second half of the living estate sale of Mrs. Ursula Otto of Palm Beach. The widow of the German Swiss industrialist sold her 22,000 square foot Palm Beach mansion in 1996 and acquired smaller quarters. This portion of the sale will feature items such as an important 18th century Georgian mahogany dining table, conservatively estimated at $10,000 - $20,000, a collection of 18th century Georgian silver, a Georgian mahogany sideboard estimated at $4,000 - $6,000 and a set of ten William IV mahogany dining chairs estimated at $4,000 - $6,000.
The balance of the sale will consist of high quality art, decorative art items and antique furniture from a number of private consignors.
Arthur James Galleries has been at the same location, 615 East Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, since opening in 1958. It conducts only ten sales each year with a major sale every other month. This sale certainly qualifies as such. While long time Arthur James Galleries customers have come to rely and trust the condition reports on sale items issued by the Gallery in placing their absentee order and phone bids, seating for around 150 bidders is provided on sale day. Seating can be reserved in advance with preference given to out of town visitors wishing to bid in person.
Preview of this extraordinary event will be Friday through Sunday, November 10-12, 10:00AM – 6:00PM. The Gallery will be closed Monday 13 to finish preparations for the sale. For more information call (561) 278-2373 or visit the website at

Scannell - “Looking at a Ladybug”. Signed Edith Scannell l/l. Oil on Canvas Laid Down on Board. Measuring 48” by 28 ¾”. Provenance: Royal Art Gallery, New Orleans
Estimate: $7,000/10,000.

Kneller - Portrait of Lady Anne Montague Seated”. Signed G. Kneller-Fecit and dated 1689 l/r. Also signed, dated and inscribed “The Reight Honarbl Lady Mountague” on the reverse. Oil on Canvas. Measuring 50” by 40”. Provenance: Sotheby’s, London, Feb. 28, 1990, sold as Lot 224.
Dixon & Dixon, New Orleans
Estimate: $5,000/8,000

Stuart - “Grapes, Pineapple, Plums, Apple, Jug and a Gourd on a Straw Covered Ledge”. Signed Charles Stuart and dated 1866 l/l. Oil on Canvas. Measuring 25 ¼” by 30 ¼”.
Estimate: $5,000/8,000

Roybet - “Portrait of Mme. Clemenceauvin (Nee Plumber) in a Sixteenth Century Costume”. Signed F. Roybet l/r. Oil on Panel. Measuring 44” by 44”.
Provenance: Sotheby’s, Feb. 28, 1990, sold as Lot 201
Kurt E. Schon, New Orleans
Estimate: $7,000/10,000

Bale - “Still life, Grapes, Apples, Pear in a Basket with a Jug and Fowl on a Table”. Signed C.T. Bale and dated 1888 l/l. Oil on Canvas. Measuring 28 ¼” by 36 ¼”.
Provenance: Dixon & Dixon, New Orleans
Estimate: $5,000/8,000


Famous estates provide collectors’ treasures at Matheson’s AA Auction in Melbourne, FL.

Mathesons’ AA Auction owners Lloyd and Jan Matheson of Melbourne, FL had touted their upcoming September 30-October 1 sale as the one to attend to get some of what serious collectors collected. The sale featured inventory from the collections of Phoebe Morris, the grand dame of charity balls in Miami, fashion designer Bob Bugnand who designed outfits for Elizabeth Parke Firestone and Jacqueline Kennedy, Hanna Hale, an artist and sculptor from Woodstock, NY and items from the former home of rock diva Cher.

Ship – A half model of the SS Barrowmore, 107in long in a mirrored case, sold for $10,925.

The two day sale featured 890 lots and Auction Manager Carey Lucas said, “It was the most fantastic sale I have ever seen. Unbelievable.” She said it will take her two weeks to do all the paperwork and make all the shipping arrangements. It could easily take that long because she will have to ship items around the world to the many out of town and foreign bidders who were successful buyers. The Mathesons’ facility had two hundred bidders and standing room only in the room each day and ten phone lines in operation with as many as seven in use at one time. Lloyd Matheson called the entire mammoth sale which ended after the 9½ hour session on Sunday.

Mirror – An early 19th century Venetian mirror closed in the room at $7,474.

Art was one of the big attractions. The top lot of the sale was a maritime coastal scene by Holland born Anthony Thieme (1888-1954) who emigrated to the United Sates in the 1920s with studios in Rockport, MA and St. Augustine, FL. The 30 X 36in O/C of small fishing vessels at anchor sold within estimate to a private collector in the room for $22,425 including the fifteen percent buyer’s premium. A pastoral scene, O/C 18½ X 31in, of a flock of sheep, the shepherd and his trusty dog by Belgian artist Cornelius van Leemputen (1841-1902) sold for $7,763 and a 54 X 40 inch painting in the Cuzco School style of Peru went to Washington, DC for $6,900. A pair of oil on board works by American Henry Faulkner (1922-1981) fit into the market nicely. A scene of a garden pathway sold for $5,750 and a religious figure made $4,312. Two small works by American David Burliuk (1882-1967), both oil on board, sold to a bidder in Moscow for $3,163 and $2,875.

Thieme – This nautical scene by Anthony Thieme was top lot of the sale $22,425.

As in most well stocked auctions Mathesons’ had a few surprises. A signed Bergman Orientalist bronze lamp, estimated at $8,000 sold on the phone to a buyer in Germany, closing at $13,225. A half ship’s model of the SS Barrowmore of Liverpool was ensconced in a mirrored case giving the impression of a full ship. The 107in long model sold to a West Coast Florida buyer with a bid of $10,925 and another model, the SS Santa Rosa, built by Laird Brothers of the Birkenhead Iron Works, also stayed in Florida, going to an East Coast Florida collector for $5,750.
An elaborate large early 19th century Venetian mirror from the Bob Bugnand collection, 66H X 47in W, sold to a Florida dealer for $7,474 and a marble top 18th century kingwood French commode with ormolu mounts made the same price.

Tapestry – This 18th century Belgian tapestry, the first lot to cross the block, opened the sale on a good note at $8,050.

From Cher’s former mansion came a 52in high carved wooden oriental warrior figure, $5,175, a red lacquered 53in tall standing Buddha, $4,313 and a 14th century Thai bronze Buddha, 60in tall, $4,025.
When it was finally over Lloyd Matheson said, “People at this sale were interested in buying investment quality items.”
For more information call (321) 768-6668 or visit the website at

Calder – A woven tapestry designed by Alexander Calder in 1975 brought $7,130.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A rural auction sale is always more than just a sale

The Prairie Star
By ERIN SLIVKA, Columnist
Tuesday, October 10, 2006 3:33 PM MDT

Of the many qualities that set country folks apart from city dwellers, their behavior at auction sales must be among the most distinguishable. While I have never actually been to a big-city auction, I have seen them on television and have read descriptive accounts of the events. Apparently they often include wine sipping and cheese nibbling prior to the main event. Then the bidders quietly assemble in pretty rows of seats and grasp delicate paddles adorned with perfectly printed numerals. When they wish to place a bid, they quietly raise their paddle until they are acknowledged by the jacket-and-tie-sporting auctioneer.

Country auctions are another matter altogether, with the first noticeable difference being that they are held outside where bidders are treated to snow, rain, scorching heat, or gales of wind, depending on the season. Weather rarely daunts the crowd of friends, family, neighbors, and those other folks drawn to the event by a sale bill advertising a particular piece of equipment. About the only difference the weather makes is in wardrobe and beverages. In the heat, the crowd is a sea of straw hats holding lemonade or beer. In cold conditions, scotch caps bob throughout the assembly of people holding steaming coffee in gloved hands.

The method of bidding is much different in a country auction as well. Most seasoned auction goers tuck their number, written with a Sharpie on a piece of tagboard, into the unsnapped pocket of their western shirt. When it comes time to bid, only novices wave their number up high in the air. The veterans of the country auction each have their own way of bidding, ranging from the raising of a finger off the Styrofoam coffee cup in their hand to the barely discernable nod of the head.

Auctioneers in the country have, in my opinion, a much more difficult job than city auctioneers. While the country auctioneer might have a less expensive wardrobe to worry about, he is tasked with trying to remember nearly every rancher’s name in a multiple-county area since he will usually announce the winning bidder by name, not number. He must know the value of every piece of farm equipment manufactured in the last 100 years so as to start the bidding at an appropriate value. He must also know the current state of the livestock and grain markets. If farmers are feeling pinched, he goes up in $10 increments. If they are on the verge of selling $1.20 calves, his increments may stretch out a bit.

Almost as crucial as the auctioneer are those who are assisting in the auction. Among them must be someone mechanically talented enough to coax an ancient tractor to start and run long enough to get a bid. In addition, those capable assistants must help the auctioneer group and order items in such a way that people come early and stay late.

Perhaps most distressing to the farm wife is the way in which these folks put a perfectly functional grease gun in a box of assorted gleanings from the shop drawers, most of which are useless. The thrifty farmer cannot resist the idea of a $5 grease gun, so the box of goodies goes home to join the assorted junk in the drawers of its new home. I am convinced that some of these boxes of goodies just sit in a corner until they are auctioned off again in 20 years.

I am also convinced that some of the buyers at the auction sales are bidding more on principle than on need. It is as if they are actually bidding farewell to a neighbor and colleague by supporting their auction.

There is a certain sadness that permeates an auction sale. It is the definitive end of someone’s life in agriculture, and many times, it is one more tally mark that indicates the dwindling number of families in an area. The land and equipment is swallowed up by neighbors who must expand to continue to make a living.

Despite the sometimes distressing reasons for the auction sale, there is always the sense of community, and it remains one of the only events that might draw as big a crowd as the weekend football game. That sense of community is perhaps the very reason that we don’t live in the city and hold our auctions indoors like the city folks do.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Go East Young Man!

The year is 2020, and I have just returned from a sunny semi-tropical resort located on the Bering Straits of Alaska. Upon returning home I check my ether mail and schedule, while my holographic secretary informs me that I will be flying out to China next week for a series of Industrial Auctions. I turn; throwing my duffle bag towards the couch, and inadvertently through the computer generated three dimensional image. �Was that really necessary?� she states with a tempting smile. I ponder for a moment, contemplating the opportunity ahead of me, and remembering a time in the recent past when this opportunity would never have been possible. �Capitalism in the People's Republic of China�, I say. It's a wonderful world we live in!

In the year 2000 the median age for American citizens was 55. America is continuing its advancement in becoming a graying nation. The last baby boom ended in 1965, as America launched its Medicare program, as well as the Gemini 5 Spacecraft. Our glory days are now waning, and the dawning of the age of Aquarius has now set. We continue in our transition from a nation once known for its manufacturing and idealistic young people, now evolving into a nation of blue hairs dependent upon service industries in supporting the new economy. Although we may continue as a super power it is inevitable that our position on top as a young nation, and the crown of laurels we enjoy and now wear, will eventually be passed down as our nation matures, temples graying, and the next generation of super powers emerges.

Enter China! We import more cement, steel, and other materials than ever before. Imports of Chinese cement to the US have lessened dramatically in recent months, as China is now keeping and using most of the cement they manufacture for their current building boom. If there was ever a time to consider future opportunities abroad that time is now!

Have any of you auctioneers recently received requests from foreign businesses soliciting your auctioneer services? By the way, I am not talking about those internet offers being extended from a Natural Resources Minister in Zimbabwe, A Zulu Tribal King, or a Russian bride who seek to deposit money into a willing and gullible American's bank account. I have personally received many legitimate offers from abroad. I am also a contractor for a few auction companies that provide auction services to the international market. For some of you this may be disquieting, but I am not really sure why.

Opportunity is what you make of it. Seizing opportunities is what makes the smart business man successful. China is still in its industrial infancy, but they are transitioning, developing, and growing like all countries are. Sure they are not perfect, but what young child is without the tutelage of a mentor?

Enter the Auction Industry! China has no real Auction Industry to speak of. With all of their factories in the process of retooling, and the many exports coming into this country, they will need and require the services of willing auctioneers. Who would China look to for help in assisting them? Of course their Anglo cousins to the West. Think about it! How many of you have ever received offer upon offer to buy Chinese containers (furniture, paintings, Tiffany & Galle` repro glass, etc.) loaded to the brim?

The opportunity is now. Plan for it! Expect it! Make a million, and invite me to help you. A man's vision is only limited by how far he sees. China will offer auctioneers a bright future. Go East young man.

Tom DiNardo is co-owner of DiNardo & Lord Auctioneers of Anacortes, WA. Tom is an Auctioneer, Appraiser, and Writer.

To contact Tom, visit

(c) 2004 Tom DiNardo - All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Auction chants echo only in memory now

Cox News Service
Tuesday, December 27, 2005

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The great tobacco auctioneers — men named Bum Bum Leggettes and Redcap McLaughlin and Dancin' Jakey Taylor (who jigged as he took bids) and Smokey Joe Burnette (who led buyers in Southern gospel) and Speed Riggs (fastest mouth east of the Mississippi) — they're all gone.

Their run-on chants — a rhythmic hybrid of singing, preaching and speaking in tongues, performed at Looney Tunes speed — have been replaced by the soundless button-mashing of hand-held computers. The auctioneer and the tobacco buyers now stroll past fragrant gold bales lined up inside mostly empty metal warehouses and stare at their screens while bidding in silence, like grown men fixated on Game Boys.

"It's so quiet I feel like I'm in the wrong place," said Brenda Owen McLamb, 58, whose father opened the Dixie Big Burley warehouse decades ago beside the French Broad River, near downtown.

Added Don Smart, a tobacco farmer from nearby Haywood County, "It's like a funeral parlor now."

A scent of finality hangs over the handful of tobacco auctions that opened this week in the Burley Belt of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina. A seasonal tradition in the South for more than a century — often accompanied by parades and politicking and the purchase afterward of everything from pickups to braces to Christmas tricycles — the tobacco auction's future now looks bleak.

Just a decade ago, hundreds of warehouses still operated, each filled to capacity. But with smoking's decline, foreign competition and tobacco companies contracting directly with farmers, the number dwindled this year to 15. They'll run through mid-January.

Nobody's sure if any of them will reopen next season.

"I'm kind of surprised even these auctions are going on," said John Van Willigen, co-author of "Tobacco Culture: Farming Kentucky's Burley Belt." "I think it's all but over, basically."

Yet dozens of farmers and onlookers showed up for opening day this week at the last two burley warehouses still operating in Asheville, which before its hippiefication and gentrification was the tobacco center of western North Carolina.

Many farmers came out of the surrounding mountains on a cold, dreary morning to confirm, in a way, that they are still here — "to see," as Smart put it, "if there's life after death."

This year's auctions are the first without price supports and growing quotas, which have been in place since the 1930s. That system was ditched after last year's $10.1 billion federal buyout, which enriched many farmers temporarily but left them uncertain about their future.

"Things are changing, and the system as we've known it is over with. It's the end of an era," said Marty Owen, 39, manager of the Dixie Big Burley warehouse, once run by his father and grandfather. "Over a cup of coffee is a good place to reminisce about the old days, but we have to move forward."

Warren Anders, 68, is trying to adapt from two sides of this brave new world: He farms 60 acres with his four sons and runs the Planters Warehouse, across the river from Dixie Big Burley.

"I've grown tobacco all my life. Tobacco is a good word to me," he said. "It's educated all my children, bought a lot of property, paid all my bills. When I have to contract tobacco, I'll sure quit."

Yet when asked if he'd open his warehouse for auction next year, Anders allowed, "I don't know. I just don't know."

A number of farmers sat this season out, waiting to see the effect the buyout would have on prices before deciding whether tobacco farming was still worth it — or whether, as many farmers have already done, they should sell their land to real estate developers who'll use it for pricey mountain vacation homes.

Others, like David Fisher, 60, from Sylva, N.C., cut their production: He went from 30 acres to seven.

Still others kept farming whatever they could just because it's what they've always done, and what their families have always done.

"I need to do something with my land," said Randell Wilson, 38, who farms sixth-tenths of an acre in Burnsville, N.C.

Wilson, who makes his living working for a metal manufacturing company, brought to the Dixie Big Burley warehouse this year 93 pounds of burley tobacco and his 7-month-old son. He figured he'd be back again next year if the place was still open: His grandfather grew tobacco until he was 80.

"I like the atmosphere of an auction," he said.

The season's first auction was once the equivalent, for tobacco farmers, of baseball's opening day. Anybody who grew anything showed up; some stuffed their entire crop in the trunk of their car. Many arrived with their wives and children, sometimes setting babies atop their crop — or pregnant wives beside it — in hope of squeezing from some soft-hearted buyer an extra cent or two.

The atmosphere this year was more subdued at the opening hosted by Planters Warehouse. There was strong coffee and ham biscuits for early arrivals, a few speeches by farm agency representatives, a prayer. Everybody seemed happy to see everybody else — like classmates at a reunion.

Perhaps the most familiar face belonged to Chuck Jordan, a former world champion auctioneer known for his penetrating voice and clear diction. He drove from Danville, Va., to run the show, though now he tracked bids not with his voice, but with a stylus used to punch them into a computer.

"I just can't walk away from something I've done all my life," said Jordan, 62. "It's a part of me."

Many farmers have found it more difficult to make the transition. In North Carolina alone, farmers in 2003 raised less than half the tobacco they raised six years earlier. Some growers have tried to raise sod, Christmas trees, vegetables. But few crops generate the money tobacco can.

Some say more is being lost here than just a cash crop.

"While we're looking to encourage transition in the economy, we don't need to grow any more high-end second homes," said Ray Rapp, a state representative attending the opening auction. "We want to see the agricultural base preserved. It's part of what makes these communities special places to work and live. It's not just a commitment to a cash crop, but to a way of life."

The average price at the opening day's two auctions was a little above $1.50 a pound. Some farmers, like Smart, said that's about what they expected. Others wondered how they could continue to farm. For many, it was just barely enough.

Most of those who'd spent the day inside the big, drafty warehouses tried to be optimistic.

"I remember 10 years ago everybody said it looked bad," said McLamb, at the Dixie Burley warehouse. "We haven't closed our doors yet."

Drew Jubera writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution