The 2016 Scottsdale Art Auction

The Scottsdale Art Auction was founded in 2005 by Michael Frost of Bartfield Galleries in New York, Jack Morris of Morris Whiteside Galleries in South Carolina, and Brad Richardson of Legacy Galleries with locations in Arizona, Wyoming, and Montana.  It is one of the biggest fine art auctions of the year focusing on American Western and Wildlife art.

It’s a great auction every spring with some of the major artists of the Western art scene, both historical and contemporary.  I’ve always wanted to go to the Scottsdale Art Auction, and this year they offered a strong showing of Taos School artists…one of my very favorite periods of American art.  When the catalogue arrived at our offices and I saw the almost 400 lots being offered, I knew this was an auction I didn’t want to miss. 

So we loaded up and headed for Arizona!

This year’s auction was Saturday, April the 2nd, and, as with every year, the morning and afternoon sessions brought a crowd of live, telephone and Internet bidders. Every one of the 500 seats in the 10,000 square foot showroom above Legacy Gallery was taken as bidding began – and standing room in the back was full.  With 386 lots to get through, each artwork went quickly. 

 An original 48 x 48" by Kyle Polzin, "Ranch Rig" was estimated at $50,000-$75,000, was hammered down at $130,000

An original 48 x 48" by Kyle Polzin, "Ranch Rig" was estimated at $50,000-$75,000, was hammered down at $130,000

The auctioneer and the Scottsdale floor team did a superb job interacting with bidders to make sure bids were heard and taken.  There were a few misunderstandings during the first session - a bidder backed out after landing the winning bid on a work, and a phone got disconnected during the heat of a bidding war – but the auctioneer and staff handled each situation with professionalism and a touch of humor to keep the sale rolling and on time.

There were important historical works by Walter Ufer (1876-1936), several originals by Frederic Remington (1861-1909), a watercolor by C.M. Russell (1864-1926), and great offerings by Victor Higgins (1884-1949), O.E. Berninghaus (1874-1952), and E.I. Couse (1866- 936). 

 

There were also nice pieces from well-known contemporary artists in the genre like G. Harvey (b. 1933), Martin Grelle (b. 1954), William Acheff (b. 1947) Ed Mell (b. 1942) the currently popular and highly sought-after Kyle Polzin (b. 1974), among others.

 Collectors chat and peruse art at the cocktail party the night before the auction

Collectors chat and peruse art at the cocktail party the night before the auction

 A collector studies a Joe Beeler (1931-2006) oil on canvas estimated at $4,000-$6,000

A collector studies a Joe Beeler (1931-2006) oil on canvas estimated at $4,000-$6,000

These auctions are a ton of fun to attend.  There is the cocktail party the night before where you can peruse and talk art with experts and other collectors while enjoying complementary hors d'oeuvres and drinks.

I had the opportunity to talk with Michael Frost, one of the founders of Scottsdale Art Auction and an authority on Western American Masters, and he was as personable as he was knowledgeable.   I’d corresponded with Frost over the years for his professional consult on items we were appraising, so it was great to shake his hand and meet face to face to talk the art market.

 

Auctions are a good resource for collectors to acquire art, often times at prices lower than the gallery market.  When approaching the secondary market, both buyers and sellers need to be confident in the auction house they are working with.

The Scottsdale Art Auction is an event art enthusiasts and collectors can utilize with ease of mind – whether they are buying or selling, both consignors and purchasers are in great hands with the capable and experienced people at the Scottsdale Art Auction.

 Walter Ufer, "Drilling Homewards" Oil on canvas, 20 x 25" Estimated $500,000-$700,000

Walter Ufer, "Drilling Homewards" Oil on canvas, 20 x 25" Estimated $500,000-$700,000

This year, Scottsdale did it again.  They held an amazing auction with quality artwork presented and sold to their collectors with professionalism, expertise and proficiency.  

We highly recommend this auction house, if you are looking to purchase or sell any American Western Art – check them out!

Stay tuned! Sales results for the auction have not been released yet (they had a $13 million dollar sale in 2015), but when the results are out we will post another blog on the final outcomes. 

-M.P. Callender