Article in Handelsblatt saying the Hicham Aboutaam of Phoenix Ancient Art was the underbidder on the Greek Cycladic idol at Christie’s for $16.9 million

 on Barbara Kutscher

 

Die Büste von Kaiser Hadrians Lustknabe “Antnioos” kam für 23,8 Mio. Dollar unter den Hammer.

NEW YORK. Zehn Minuten lang stritten sich zwei hochrangige Agenten am Telefon bei Christie?s um eine über 4 000 Jahre alte kykladische Marmorfigur. Kurz vor dem Zuschlag meldete sich noch einmal der New Yorker Händler Hicham Aboutaam von Phoenix Ancient Art, aber bei erstaunlichen 16,9 Millionen Dollar ging die fast 30 Zentimeter hohe Figur doch an den anonymen Telefonbieter. Er sei wahrscheinlich europäisch, munkelt die Branche. Es war der erste Auktionsauftritt des außergewöhnlich fein gearbeiteten Idols von der Hand des sogenannten “Schuster Meisters”, benannt nach der Sammlerin Marion Schuster aus Lausanne.

Auch das Getty Museum besitzt eine ihm zugeschriebene Figur, aber diese hier war besser, in einem Stück erhalten und mit der heute geschätzten, kaum gereinigten Oberfläche. Die nicht zimperliche Taxe von drei bis fünf Millionen Dollar orientierte sich am Kaufpreis, den der New Yorker Finanzier Michael Steinhardt, jetzt der Einlieferer, gezahlt hatte. Kennern war klar, dass die Figur heute leicht über zehn Millionen Dollar bringen würde. Neue Käufer, die bislang vor allem Moderne oder Zeitgenossen sammelten, treiben derzeit Preise für Antiken hoch.

Gemeinsam hämmerten Christie?s und Sotheby?s am 8. und 9.12. äußerst starke 80 Millionen Dollar (für 368 Zuschläge) für Antike Kunst ein. Sotheby?s 46 Millionen Dollar (für 105 Lose) reichten fast an das Ausnahmejahr 2007 heran. Beide Häuser punkteten vor allem mit bekannten Nachlässen, Sotheby?s glänzte mit 38 Losen aus dem Besitz des 2009 verstorbenen Unternehmers und Mäzen Clarence Day aus Memphis. Seine Sammlung galt als eine der zehn besten des Landes.

Ein nicht in erster Linie auf Antiken spezialisierter europäischer Käufer, so ein Eingeweihter, zahlte 23,8 (Taxe zwei bis drei) Millionen Dollar für die Büste des schönen Knaben Antinoos (um 130 n. Chr.). Sie beeindruckte durch den Vorbesitz Louis de Clercqs, dessen Sammlung heute weitgehend im Louvre steht. Hinzu kommt die einzigartige Inschrift “Antinoos” auf dem Sockel.

Christie?s nahm (für 263 Lose) 34,09 Millionen Dollar ein, hier übertrafen sechs Objekte aus dem Nachlass des kalifornischen Computerpioniers Max Palevsky ihre Taxen um ein Vielfaches.

Die Palevsky-Lose wurden von einer in ein langes Gewand gekleideten römischen weiblichen Statue (1. bis 2. Jh. n. Chr.) angeführt, die den klassischen griechischen Stil von vor einigen Jahrhunderten imitiert. Für diese wunderbare Figur zahlte ein privater Sammler 962 500 (250 000 bis 350 000) Dollar. Das römische Marmorporträt von Sokrates (um 1. Jh. n. Chr.) hatte Palevsky 2001 noch 87 000 Dollar gekostet, jetzt kletterte es auf 458 500 (80 000 bis 120 000) Dollar, eine offenbar typische Preisentwicklung.

Händler sehen in den nun häufig viel zu niedrig angesetzten Taxen, dass die Wertsteigerung von den Auktionshäusern noch nicht verarbeitet wurde.

Neolithic to Nebuchadnezzar

Phoenix Ancient Art:  Winged griffin flanking a sacred tree, Phoenician, ca. 8th century B.C., ivory, H 10.6 cm 

 “As for the fascination, in addition to aesthetics it has great deal to do with the perception that Near Eastern art is very, very old, older in fact than every other form of art.  This belief, according to Hicham Aboutaam, co-owner of‘ Phoenix Ancient Art in New York and Geneva, exists because most of the sites from the ancient Near East that we know of today were referred to in the Old Testament—Ur, Sumer, Babylon, Nineveh, not to mention kings such as Nebuchadnezzar. Because the Old Testament is so very old, we consider art from that period as very old as well.’ Aboutaam points out that this perception that is not, in fact, correct. Cycladic art is older, and Egyptian culture older still.”

Amy Page, “Neolithic to Nebuchadnazzer,” Art & Antiques, November, 2010

Cycladic Reclining Female Figure

This beautiful Cycadic figure of a reclining female was  once owned by Ali and Hicham Aboutaam, the co-owners  of Phoenix Ancient Art,  One of only twelve known by an artist called the “Schuster Master,” named for a collector who owned this idol, it is the only complete work by the artist that has survived.  Now owned by a private collector, it is going on the auction block at Christie’s New York on 9 December, where it is estimated to bring $3 million to $5 million.  The price paid could be a new auction record for a Cycladic figure.

Bastet the Goddess at Phoenix Ancient Art

Brothers Ali Aboutaam and Hicham Aboutaam co-own Phoenix Ancient Art, a collection of beautiful and rare antiques. Amongst their selection is an ancient Egyptian amulet in the shape of the goddess Bastet from the 3rd Intermediary Period, circa 8th-7th Century B.C. Standing almost 6 cm tall, this figurine is very delicate. Despite its fragility, the amulet is in amazing condition; it is completely intact, and still retains its original bright blue color. The figure is shaped as the human body of a thin woman with a feline head.

Bastet is the more gentle personification of the dangerous goddess Sekhmet, who appears as both a cat and a lion in Egyptian tradition. Figurines of Sekhmet have the rounded ears of a lion, while those of Bastet feature the pointed ears of a cat.

Bastet was believed to be the patron of the doctors, and protector of women and children during childbirth.

Antique Helmet Sells for Vast Sum

Antiques certainly never go out of style.  In recent news, a detailed Roman parade helmet sold at Christie’s auction house in London for 2.28 million pounds ($3.6 million). Estimates had been set at 200,000 to 300,000 pounds.

Christie’s described the helmet as an “extraordinary example of Roman metalwork at its zenith” and dated it to the late 1st or 2nd century A.D.  The helmet has been named the Crosby Garrett Helmet for the village where it was found, near the Scottish border.

Certainly, this is one exciting example of how precious and valuable antiques are to many people today.  Companies like Phoenix Ancient Art with Hicham Aboutaam and Ali Aboutaam understand the value of an item of this sort, and antique appreciation is growing in the general population as well.

Eclectic Mix at the Biennale des Antiquaries

In a recent article by Simon Hewitt titled “Defining Chic” in  Art & Auction Magazine, Mr. Hewitt gave a detailed overview of the Biennale des Antiquaries that took place at the Grand Palais in Paris from September 15-22.  This year’s  event pared down the number of exhibitors  from 94 to 87,  and included 13 new exhbiitors.

He described the broad  mix of material at the fair:  “The Biennale is nothing if not eclectic. Highlights range from a 3rd- to 2nd-century B.C. Hellenistic bronze equestrian figure of Alexander the Great at Phoenix Ancient Art, of Geneva and New York, to “Renaissance of Yiddish Culture,” a show of Kiev-based artists at the booth of the Paris and Tel Aviv gallery Le Minotaure.”

Phoenix Ancient Art in New York

Phoenix Ancient Art will be participating this coming October in the annual International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show.  Organized by Haughton International Fairs, it  is the longest running of its shows in New York city and  a prestigious event for anyone interested  in antiques.  The fair is recognized throughout the world as a “premier showcase for exceptional quality works of art from antiquity to the present day.”   To be featured at this event is a mark of honor for antique dealers such as Hicham and Ali Aboutaam from Phoenix Ancient Art.

Phoenix Ancient Art Unveiling Statue of Leto Holding Apollo & Artemis

Phoenix Ancient Art, a premier gallery specializing in Classical Antiquities and owned by brothers Hicham Aboutaam and Ali Aboutaam, will exhibit in the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris.  This magnificent event will take place at the Grand Palais from September 15-22, 2010 and will display the finest works of art on the market today.

Phoenix Ancient Art will unveil masterworks including a Statue of Leto Holding Apollo and Artemis.  This statue from the Roman Imperial Period,  2nd century A.D..  stands 98 centimeters high and is is carved in the round from a single piece of fine-grained marble.  The group is almost completely intact and it resembles a Greek original dating from the 5th century B.C.

Hicham Aboutaam and South Arabian Art History

The South Arabian people (more commonly known as the Sabaeans), resided in the south west portion of the Arabian Peninsula , the place we know today as Yemen.    They have been  linked to the biblical kingdom of Sheba.  Ma’rib, the capital of the ancient Sabaean Kingdom,  was conquered in the late 3rd century by the Himyarites.  There were various different regional kingdoms belonging to the Sabaeans throughout ancient Yemen and all were active in the spice trade, with a special emphasis on myrrh and frankincense.   The best known South Arabian art is their distinctive sculpture. .  They were very often carved in alabaster, and some of these are sold by Hicham Aboutaam at Phoenix Ancient Art.  Currently on sale in this collection is a South Arabian Stone Head for $8,500.

Understanding Greek Culture Through Antiques

One way of understanding ancient Greek culture and history  is by taking a look at the artwork from the time.  Pottery from ancient Greece has helped many people form a basic understanding  of the place, people and culture.  Indeed, it has been said that such pottery “paints a portrait of the world of ancient Greece.”  At Phoenix Ancient Art, Hicham Aboutaam has a few impressive pieces from this time on sale,  including a core-formed glass Amphoriskos priced at $6,500,  which probably at the time contained some kind of perfume.  From this piece one can learn a bit about the history of antiques in general, since the practice of using  finely produced glass vessels for valuable commodities  started in the late Bronze Age and was later revived in Mesopotamia in the early Iron Age.