Record-breaking folk art at Sotheby’s

Editorial Staff Art

Sotheby’s set a record on Saturday, January 25, with the sale of the Ralph O. Esmerian Collection of Folk Art. The 228 lots reached a total of $12,955,943 eclipsing the previous record set by Sotheby’s in 1994 with the sale of the Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little Collection.

Saturday’s top lot was the 1923 figure of Santa Claus by the Brooklyn-born artist Samuel Anderson Robb, which sold for $875,000, more than three times the pre-sale estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. A rare carved pine pheasant hen weathervane once in the collection of the influential folk art dealer Edith Gregor Halpert achieved $449,000; and Ruth Whittier Shute and Samuel Addison Shute’s c. 1832 portrait of Jeremiah H. Emerson of Nashua, New Hampshire, realized $665,000. The c.1816 double portrait of John Bickel and Caterina Bickel from Jonestown in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, painted by Jacob Maentel reached $401,000.

Santa Claus by Samuel Anderson Robb, New York, c. 1923. Sotheby’s New York.