NEW YORK - Amidst a blizzard, 20,000 people gathered at the old Sotheby Parke Bernet headquarters on Madison Avenue on one day in March of 1974. Many of them brought items of personal significance. Some brought their grandfather’s favourite watch, others brought ceramics that had been in their homes for as long as they could remember. When gently placed in front of Sotheby’s specialists, visitors were told tales of the creation of their treasures intertwined with the history of the journey that these items had made through decades, if not centuries. This was the first Sotheby’s valuation day in New York, more than 40 years ago. Many were surprised by the words of the experts in front of them, and some had their age-old family lore confirmed. Aptly named “Heirloom Discovery Day,” the success on that fateful snowy day launched a flurry of subsequent events all around the country, with Sotheby's often partnering with museums, non-profit institutions and charities to raise funds for their programs, or the restoration of a building to better house their own remarkable objects.
FIRST HEIRLOOM DISCOVERY DAY HELD AT SOTHEBY PARKE BERNET GALLERIES ON MADISON AVENUE ON MARCH 26-30, 1974.
In 1980, when the new Sotheby’s York Avenue headquarters opened, a house-wide valuation day was held as part of the celebration. Sotheby’s specialists gave verbal valuations to the visitors to the gallery. Stories of glorious discoveries encouraged many to forage in attics and basements. As reported by the New York Times in 1982, an early 15th Century Ming Blue-and-White floral dish “arrived at an upstate New York event wrapped in a brown paper bag,” and subsequently sold for $76,000 at a Chinese works of art auction at the then Sotheby Parke Bernet in 1980. According to the same article, it was bought for “$6 at an auction in 1924.” A similar example was sold in our Hong Kong auction rooms in April 2013 for over $716,000 USD.
FINE EARLY MING BLUE AND WHITE DISH. EARLY 15TH CENTURY. SOLD ON MAY 8TH, 1980, FOR $76,000.
Sotheby’s Chinese art departments will be hosting a valuation day on Friday June 17. It is inspired by the tradition of previous charitable valuation days. As it is more advantageous for specialists to view an object first hand rather than via email and telephone, owners of potential treasures can bring their Chinese art- may it be ceramics, jades, bronzes, scholar objects, metalwork or paintings - directly to our galleries on that day for the specialists to examine. As with previous valuation days, specialists will provide verbal valuations for the items. The suggested donation will be $10 for the first three objects, and $5 for each additional object, with all proceeds donated to our neighbor, the Ronald McDonald House.
PROVIDED BY RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE NEW YORK.
Since 1978, Ronald McDonald House New York has provided a temporary “home away from home” for pediatric cancer patients and their families. Located around the corner from Sotheby’s on East 73rd Street in Manhattan, the House works with 16 major medical treatment centers to provide treatment for cancer and related illness. Ronald McDonald House New York welcomes children and families from across the country and the world. Ronald McDonald House New York provides more than simply bricks and mortar shelter for families. The House also provides an array of family support services including wellness programs, tutors, music, art, transportation, activities for siblings, holiday and birthday parties, while also fostering camaraderie between parents struggling with their child’s cancer diagnosis. These services are a part of the fabric of Ronald McDonald House New York, and are provided for families at a requested donation of no more than $35 per night.
Therefore, please mark your calendars and bring your Chinese Art to Sotheby’s at 1334 York Avenue on June 17th, from 10am -4pm to contribute to Ronald McDonald House New York and discover more about your own collection!