Press Releases

American Impressionist Painting Brings $245,000 at Keno Auctions Pop-Up Winter Sale with 87% Sell-Through Rate



NEW YORK: Despite a week long postponement due to winter weather, Keno Auctions’ Pop-Up auction boasted an 87% sell-through rate on Sunday, January 31st. After a brief introduction by Keno Auctions President, Leigh Keno, New York-based auctioneer Charles Antin led the auction, encouraging lively bidding on lots from excited bidders on the phone and internet.

A fresh to market American Impressionist painting from a Rhode Island Estate brought nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Richard Edward Miller’s Woman at her Vanity with Earring was in untouched condition and had been in the same family for more than a half of a century. “The painting is fresh and vibrant, as it displays the subject matter, light and color play that Richard Edward Miller was experimenting with successfully in Giverny, France from 1910 to 1915,” said Leigh Keno. “This is one of the finest works of his oeuvre, evidenced by the spirited bidding among several phone bidders and final sale result of $245,000.”

A small box incited an extremely spirited battle between phone and internet bidders, resulting in a hefty price of $18,750, nearly five times the pre-sale auction estimate. Attributed to one of the Pennsylvania Compass Artists, the painted and decorated dome-top box, at just 3 15/16 inches tall by 4 7/16 inches wide, is perhaps the most diminutive example known. It also contained a hollow painted and decorated egg with a partially illegible inscription and the date, “1841”. Aside from missing its upper tin clasp, the box is in virtually untouched condition, with darkened original varnish covering bright painted decoration. James Bard’s Towboat William Tittamer brought in $35,000. Boasting an impressive provenance that includes the New York Historical Society, the painting reveals Bard’s characteristic naïve style yet exacting attention to detail.

A historic work of art painted by Gilbert Stuart sold for the second highest price of the day at $185,000. Painted in 1795, George Washington is certainly the rarest, and perhaps the most iconic, of Stuart’s two bust-length depictions of the president. “Vaughan Type” portraits (which show the right side of Washington’s face) resulted from his first sitting with the artist in the spring of 1795; only 17 other copies by Stuart are known. (Examples of the other bust-length version, with the sitter showing the left side of his face, are dubbed “Athenaeum Type” and number about 75). Leigh Keno commented “A Vaughan Type portrait by Stuart has not been recorded in auction records for the past 35 years, and the majority of the 17 other known examples are in the collections of major institutions such as Colonial Williamsburg, the Frick, the Metropolitan Museum, the National Gallery and Winterthur. It was certainly the buy of the sale.”

In order to exercise due diligence, Keno Auctions had commissioned Jennifer Mass, Ph.D., an internationally renowned museum scientist, currently consulting Senior Scientist at the Rijksmuseum and President of Scientific Analysis of Fine Art, LLC, to compare the palette of the Keno Auctions portrait with that of the well-known Vaughan Type portrait at Winterthur (commissioned by wealthy Philadelphian William Bingham). “Keno Auctions is extremely grateful to the Winterthur Museum for allowing their portrait to be closely examined. In a detailed analysis of each painting and comparison of materials, as well as style, application of materials and techniques, Dr. Mass compiled a report of her findings. The two paintings were examined through x-ray fluorescence and cross-section photomicroscopy and the results provide, ‘DNA-like’ parallels, providing compelling forensic evidence that the present painting is by Gilbert Stuart, and in a date range of 1795-1796,” remarked Keno.

“We were certainly pleased with the results of this Auction and plan to have many more in the future. Fresh, quality merchandise and conservative estimates are a recipe for successful results. The added reach to bidders worldwide by using three bidding platforms – Invaluable, LiveAuctioneers and Bidsquare – insures that we reach the right collectors, institutions and dealers around the world,” said Leigh Keno.

Please note: All prices include buyer’s premium.

$8.4 Million George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation on View at Keno Auctions Townhouse, 127 East 69th Street, Nov. 21-26


$8.4 Million George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation on View at Keno Auctions Townhouse, 127 East 69th Street,

November 21-26th

NEW YORK: Just in time for Thanksgiving, Seth Kaller, one of the world’s leading dealers in rare historic documents, will exhibit and offer for sale George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation in conjunction with Leigh Keno, President of Keno Auctions, now through November 26.

The Thanksgiving Proclamation is priced at $8.4 million, and is the only example in private hands. The only other Washington-signed copy was acquired by the Library of Congress in 1921. The document was offered at Christie’s on November 14, 2013, where it was expected to sell for upwards of $12,000,000. Kaller represents the document’s owner, who has decided to offer the manuscript through exhibition and private sale.

Leigh Keno says: “I’m excited to be working with Seth again. His expertise was invaluable earlier this year when Keno Auctions sold a historical draft of “The Twelve Colonies by their Delegates in Congress to the Inhabitants of Great Britain” for $912,500—a record price for an American Revolutionary War Manuscript at auction.”

Says Seth Kaller: “It is a great pleasure to offer this extraordinary document establishing a uniquely American celebration.”

In the Proclamation, issued on October 3, 1789, our first president designates “Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being . . . That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for . . . the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness… for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge.”

Washington issued another Thanksgiving Proclamation six years later and Presidents Adams and Madison proclaimed their own as well. The next President to do so was Abraham Lincoln, who issued several during the Civil War. On October 3, 1863—exactly 74 years after George Washington’s Proclamation—Lincoln established the fourth Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving, setting the precedent that remains to this day.

In addition to the Thanksgiving Proclamation, other documents for sale include:

  • A rare July 1776 broadside printing of the Declaration of Independence, attributed to a printer in Exeter, New Hampshire, priced at $1.2 million.
  • The only known copy in private hands of “the greatest of early American maps,” Thomas Holme’s 1687 “Map of the Improved Part of the Province of Pennsilvania in America,” priced at $375,000.
  • A scare copy of the New York Times from November 20, 1863 with a front page printing of the Gettysburg Address, priced at 9,500.
  • A highly personal letter handwritten and signed by George Washington in 1782, priced at $98,000.

About Seth Kaller

Seth Kaller is a leading expert in acquiring, authenticating, and appraising rare historic documents. For more than 25 years, he has worked with individuals and institutions to build major collections and manage donations and museum loans. As an agent and dealer, the treasures he has acquired for clients include rare printings of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock’s letter announcing Independence, printed and handwritten working drafts of the U.S. Constitution, Abraham Lincoln’s anti-slavery manuscripts, Robert E. Lee’s proposal of surrender to Ulysses S. Grant, George Washington’s Farewell Address to the States after the Revolutionary War, Jefferson’s letters on religion and government, and many others.


About Leigh Keno

Having been interested in beautiful and rare Americana for more than forty years, since 1997 Leigh has been an appraiser on the Emmy-nominated PBS series Antiques Roadshow.   Leigh was Vice President at Christie’s, where he also was a Specialist in American Decorative Arts, prior to 1988 when he founded Leigh Keno American Antiques. Keno Auctions was founded in 2010.  He has sold and advised on an astounding variety of paintings, American furniture and folk art and is honored to have helped build some of the world’s best private and institutional collections of fine and decorative arts. In 2000 he co-authored the book Hidden Treasures. He is a Board Member of the Appraisers Association of America. In 2005, Leigh was awarded the National Humanities Medal by the President of the United States. In 2008, Leigh and his brother Leslie accompanied First Lady Laura Bush on a History Channel televised tour, The White House: Behind Closed Doors.



New18_1 York – Leigh Keno’s October 1st sale confirmed the strength of the modern and contemporary art market with sales totaling $1,200,000, exceeding the high end of the presale estimate of $650,000- $1,140,000.


“With only 48 lots offered, the sell-rate was a healthy 80 per cent,” reported Leigh Keno. Telephone bidders and two determined bidders in the room battled it out for the top lot of the sale, a Ruth Asawa sculpture that drove the bidding up to $329,000 (est. $100-200,000). Keno noted that the consignor, John W. Freeman, purchased the piece in 1954 at Asawa’s first solo exhibition at the Peridot Gallery.


Th6_1e second highest priced lot of the day was a Cindy Sherman photograph, Untitled Film Still #39 that sold for $191,000 (est. $80-120,000).  This work had been given to Herkimer College in upstate New York in 1979 and was being sold to benefit the school’s scholarship fund.  Keno noted: “We are grateful to Cindy Sherman for recently kindly signing and dating the work for us, assigning an edition number of “1/10””


38_1A Marc Chagall glazed ceramic dish created in 1953 achieved $97,500, against a presale estimate of $25-50,000. “I was not surprised at the interest because it was a unique work by Chagall and not from a series,” remarked Keno. Ceramic works from the Madoura pottery by Pablo Picasso also did well, the best being a glazed terracotta plaque, “Visage de Femme Pomone”, 1968, that brought $20,000 (est. $7-10,000).




A pair of Alexander Calder Spiral silver cufflinks brought $30,000 (est. $4-8.000) in spirited bidding. Leigh said he understood the enthusiasm for them. “These were a personal gift to the consigner, John Freeman, from Calder, who came to his 27th Birthday party at Wave Hill in the Bronx, in June, 1955,” said Keno. “Provenance doesn’t get any better than this. We were also able to publish in the catalog several photographs of Calder taken by Mr. Freeman which had been tucked away in a drawer for decades.”



Not surprising for Keno Auctions sale, there were a number of mid-20th century furniture in the auction, including a rare Gio Ponti lounge chair with original upholstery that came in over estimate at $43,750 (est. $15-30,000) and two Ponti sideboards that sold for $16,250 and $13,750, against estimates of $3-6,000.


21_1Rounding out the sale was a number of modern and contemporary paintings including: a Sam Francis monotype, which achieved $27,500 (est. $12-18,000); a James Brooks abstract from 1951 sold for $28,750 (est. $7-10,000); and a Gerhard Richter oil on canvas Vermalung, estimated at $10-20,000, was finally hammered down at $48,750.


Leigh Keno said he was very happy with the overall results. “We recently re-designed and renovated our gallery space and lighting system and I love the way that the pieces looked in a clean modern space.  The results exceeded the high estimate and we had the opportunity to work with some great objects and of course most importantly, some great people!”


NEW YORK – On January 26th, Keno Auctions of New York City sold a highly important and historically significant document entitled Letter from the Twelve United States Colonies, by their delegates in Congress to the Inhabitants of Great Britain.  After heated competition between several phone bidders in a packed salesroom, the gavel dropped at $912,500 (including Buyer’s Premium), well above its presale auction estimate of $100,000 to $400,000.

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Keno Auctions is honored to announce the upcoming sale of a long-missing manuscript related to America’s independence. Discovered in the archives of the Morris-Jumel Mansion, a New York City museum, the manuscript is a final, urgent plea for reconciliation by the Continental Congress directly to the people of Great Britain. The intention was for the manuscript to be printed and disseminated in Britain in the hopes of gaining popular support, thus persuading the King and his Ministry to redress Colonial grievances.  When the final version was published in Philadelphia in the summer of 1775, James Madison sought to find the author, writing that for “true eloquence,” this letter “may vie with the most applauded oration of Tully himself.” The answer to Madison’s question was unknown to historians until now.

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New York, October 30, 2013 – Today, Keno Auctions held its fall 2013 sale of Important Modern, Traditional, Native American, and Decorative Art at its Upper East Side headquarters. “Overall, it was a great sale. There was a diverse group of objects offered, and we had bidders from all of the world via the internet and telephone bidding. We were very pleased with the results,” said Leigh Keno, president of Keno Auctions.

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New York – Keno Auctions’ Important American Furniture, Paintings, Folk art and Decorative Arts European Paintings sale was a solid success, achieving a total of just over $2.35 million – right within the pre-sale estimate range for the auction of $1,733,050/$2,971,750.  More than 87% of the lots sold to 165 buyers; one third of whom were successful through the Internet.  Online bidding participation was the strongest to date for Keno Auctions.

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Keno Auctions Kicks Off Americana Week Important American Furniture, Paintings, Folk Art and Decorative Arts Sale

New York – On January 22, 2013 Keno Auctions will showcase a remarkable selection of American paintings, furniture, folk art and decorative arts ranging from the 17th century to the 20th century.  The sale is comprised of nearly 300 lots of treasures and important examples of American furniture and folk art, including The Dr. and Mrs. Robert Isbell Collection, The Joanne and Jeffrey Klein Collection and The Kathryn and James Abbe, Jr. Collection. Fresh property from several Estates includes Ethnographic, African, Pre-Columbian, Chinese and Egyptian objects collected in the late 1930s through the 1970s by the late James M. DuPont (1912 1991).

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Antiques Art Avant-Garde Greenwich Event

Rhinebeck, NY.  The antiques and art world are about to experience an entirely new way of looking at and acquiring objects of desire as Antiques & Art Avant-Garde Greenwich opens its doors, featuring more than 40 exceptional exhibitors.

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Keno Auctions to Launch First Tuesdays Monthly Appraisal Days

New York – Keno Auctions will launch First Tuesdays, a new series of monthly appraisal days of fine and decorative arts starting October 2, 2012 at the firm’s Upper East Side headquarters at 127 East 69th Street in New York City; the events will be held the first Tuesday of each month.

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Brilliant Results for Works by William Trost Richards, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Henrik Willem Mesdag, David Johnson and Roberto Matta at Keno Auctions June 12, 2012 Sale

New York – Keno Auctions’ Important American and European Paintings sale, the first auction conducted at the company’s headquarters, achieved a total of $1.512 million, exceeding the pre-sale high estimate of $1.265 million by $300,000. The auction was 73% sold by lot (including aftersales), with 49 buyers; 11 of whom were successful through the internet.

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Keno Auctions Important American and European Paintings Sale: An Ecletic Mix of Fine Art Sure to Find a Wide Audience.

New York – On June 12, 2012 an exciting selection of 73 important American and European paintings from the 16th through 20th centuries will be offered at Keno Auctions Manhattan office at 127 East 69th Street.  The sale will begin at 10:00 a.m. and will be the first distinct fine art sale for the auction house.  A public exhibition preceding the sale will be held from June 8 – 12.

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Exceptional Prices Achieved At Keno Auctions During Two-Session January 17, 2012 Sale

Remarkable Sales At Keno Auctions Include Record-Breaking Prices For A 17th Century Joined Chest And A Federal Painted Table Stellar Prices Achieved From The Collection Of Peter Brams With Total Sales Resulting In More Than $3.6 Million

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Keno Auctions to Kick Off Americana Week

Important Americana, Paintings, Furniture and Decorative Arts Sale followed by the Peter Brams Collection of Important Woodlands Indian Art

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Keno Auctions Announes Appointment of Betty Krulik

Betty Krulik, a nationally-recognized figure in the American paintings area, has joined Keno Auctions as a consultant to its paintings department, bringing with her more than 30 years of experience in the U.S. market.

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Keno Auctions held its fall 2011 sale of Important Paintings, Furniture, Decorative Arts and Jewelry realizing $1,251,000.

“Today’s results reflect a recovering market on an upward trend for the very best pieces. It was encouraging to see a number of new, young collectors from around the world actively bidding, and some long-term buyers returning to the market” said Leigh Keno, president of the eponymous auction house

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Keno Auctions Announces Fall Sale of Important Paintings, Furniture, Decorative Arts and Jewelry

Saturday, September 24, 2011 at the Marriott Hotel, 243 Tresser Boulevard, Stamford, CT 10:00 A.M.

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American And European Paintings, Folk Art, Furniture And Decorative Arts

The complete catalogue and sale results for the American And European Paintings, Folk Art, Furniture And Decorative Arts

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The Inaugural Sale from Keno Auctions

Which took place May 1–2 at the Marriott Stamford Hotel in Connecticut, achieved $5,818,460 in sales, over its pre-sale high estimate ($2.8–5.4 million)* with 87.5% of the 741 lots finding buyers, and established three world sales records…

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