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Aristophil is Back

On 01 June 2018, by Vincent Noce

Seven auctions are scheduled at Drouot in June to continue the dispersion of the considerable legacy resulting from the Aristophil company's bankruptcy when its directors were convicted of fraud. 

Aristophil is Back
“Petau” Book of hours according to the rite of Rome, France, Tours, c. 1495, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment, containing 16 medallions in gold monochrome with highlights attributed to Jean Poyer (active 1490-1520) and an illuminated heraldic composition (17th century) added around the first medallion (Petau family arms).
On sale on 16 June with Aguttes auction house.
Estimate: €700,000/900,000

Under the hammers of a string of auctioneers, the sales will be organised by themes, such as literature and music, to increase the prestige of pieces with collectors. Since the opening sale six months ago, we learn from Claude Aguttes that four auction houses have joined forces under the acronym OVA, (standing for "Aristophil sales operators"). On 16 March 2017, the Neuilly-sur-Seine-based auctioneer was appointed by the Paris district court to assist the receiver in coordinating the sales, after being tasked with safely housing the collection of 130,000 manuscripts and other lots (photographs, drawings and miscellaneous objects), and drawing up an inventory. Ader-Nordmann, Artcurial and Drouot-Estimations have been appointed by the court to stage the sales as well as Aguttes, on the administrator's recommendation. This panel had been previously selected through an invitation to tender by a "college of sages" consisting of Frédéric Mitterrand, Jean-Pierre Biron (his chief consultant when he was minister) and the experts Didier Griffe and Michel Maket. Their decision was based on criteria such as the company's sound standing and organisational ability to operate sales of this kind. According to Claude Aguttes, "The association will auction all the collections sold under joint ownership by Aristophil right through to the end" – a process that could involve up to 300 sales in a good half-dozen years. In his view, "it will give more visibility to outstanding works, while ensuring a steady rate of sales" to cope with the enormous size of this collection: the world's largest in private hands. 

André Breton (1896-1966), Louis Aragon (1897-1982), "Le Trésor des Jésuites",c. 1928, a Surrealist play in three tableaux and a prologue, autograph ma
André Breton (1896-1966), Louis Aragon (1897-1982), "Le Trésor des Jésuites", c. 1928, a Surrealist play in three tableaux and a prologue, autograph manuscript, typescript with numerous corrections and two photographs by Man Ray, 50 in-4 pages.
On sale on 19 June with Drouot-Estimations auction house.
Estimate: €80,000/100,000


Treasures under the hammer
With its 900 lots, the second sale should be a little calmer than the opening session (totalling €3.8 M), which was disrupted by what Claude Aguttes calls "a group of objectors": former clients protesting against "the sacrifice" of their property. Pleasant surprises came from a letter from Napoleon and Josephine, knocked down for €280,000, and a 15th century illuminated manuscript (a French translation of "Alexander the Great" by Quintus Curtius), which fetched €640,000. The manuscript of Balzac's "Ursule Mirouët" went for €900,000 to the bookseller Jean-Claude Vrain, who was paradoxically investigated for collusion in this affair. Yet again, the most promising sale is the one devoted to precious manuscripts and books from the Middle Ages and Renaissance on 16 June, expected to make over €5 million. It notably includes the " Petau" Book of Hours (see photo), named after a possible 17th century collector, illuminated by the Touraine artist Jean Poyer, who ingeniously hollowed out the centres of the pages to set off his paintings. This has an estimate of between €700,000 and €900,000. For the record, it had been bought by Aristophil for €1.8 million at the sale of the Paul-Louis Weiller collection, staged at Drouot in April 2011 by Gros-Delettrez. Aristophil had sold it to its investors for €5 million. Meanwhile, the modern literature sale with Drouot-Estimations on 19 June, with a spotlight on poetry, includes a real gem: a draft of a draft, "Maudits soupirs pour une autre fois", a too little-known masterpiece by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, which could fetch between €250,000 and €300,000. 
 

the main sales

16 June
"Origins"
Around 50 mediaeval manuscripts and incunabula are on offer in what will be the largest sale. As well as the "Petau" Book of Hours (around €800,000), they include an illuminated manuscript of a text by Petrarch, incunabula such as the writings of St Jerome, and a first edition of Montaigne's "Essais".
Estimate: €4.5/6 M 
Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Aguttes auction house.

16 June
Aviation heroes
Star lots: Saint-Exupéry's travel diary of a journey in Morocco, accompanied by drawings (€120,000/150,000), and a love letter illustrated with watercolours of the "Petit Prince" (€150,000/200,000). Meanwhile, sketches and technical documents drafted by Lindbergh to fine-tune the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane that carried him across the Atlantic in 1927, could garner €300,000/400,000.
Estimate: €2/2.7 M
Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Artcurial auction house.

18 June
Fine arts
The sale includes drawings by Boucher, Tiepolo, Piranese, Corot, Delacroix, Sisley and Ingres, Rodin's sketchbooks (around €10,000) and letters including one written by Van Gogh, illustrated with drawings, estimated at €200,000/300,000. There will also be first editions of "Jazz" by Matisse (€100,000/150,000) and the "Lettera Amorosa" by René Char (€20,000/30,000), illustrated by Braque, together with 20th-century photographic prints.
Estimate: €1.64/2.6 M
Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Aguttes auction house.

19 June
Literature
As well as the previously-mentioned autograph manuscript by Louis-Ferdinand Céline (around €300,000), there is a noteworthy poem by Rimbaud that once belonged to Verlaine (€100,000/150,000) accompanied with an unpublished poem by the latter. There are also letters between Éluard and Gala (€300,000/400,000) and a manuscript of his "Livre ouvert", illustrated with original gouaches (€150,000/200,000). Also worth noting: correspondence between Breton and Théodore Fraenkel (€100,000/120,000), consisting of more than 160 letters written over thirty-odd years.
Estimate: €2.7/3.5 M
Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Drouot-Estimations auction house.

20 June
Great composers
Scores including an excerpt from «The Marriage of Figaro» (€400,000/500,000, see photo) and a quartet by Mozart (€120,000/150,000) are followed by letters. One of these is from Beethoven to Archduke Rudolf (€100,000/120,000). Complete manuscripts include Offenbach's "Les Brigands" and Messiaen's "Des canyons aux étoiles" (around €150,000).
Estimate: €4.2/5.4 M
Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Ader Nordmann auction house.
Saturday 16 June 2018 - 14:30 (CEST) - Live
Salle 9 - Hôtel Drouot - 75009
Aguttes , Les Collections Aristophil
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