Auctions | March 2, 2018

Private Collections from Palm Beach and Italy Showed Strong Results at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

Villa Massei_56_16th Century St. John the Baptist_WEB.jpgChicago, IL—This February Leslie Hindman Auctioneers conducted two unique single-owner auctions of property from Palm Beach, Florida and Lucca, Italy: Property from the Estate of Philip and Mary Hulitar and Property from Villa Massei. Both collections offered furniture, decorative art and fine art with an international flair that included Italian, French, Chinese and Indian objects.

The February 22 Property from the Estate of Philip and Mary Hulitar auction at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers exceeded expectations with robust participation in the room, on the phone and online. Bidding was strong across all categories including furniture, decorative items and fine art. The collection brought over $665,000 for 446 lots sold.

The best performing lot was a 20th century collection of glass stemware, which sold for $68,750 against a presale estimate of $500 to $700 after competitive bidding from two phone bidders. Other highlights from the sale included two paintings by Stephen Scott Young, Cat on the Island and Chatting, which sold for $35,000 and $30,000, respectively. Decorative art also drew noted interest, such as a collection of Italian ceramic fruit and cabbageware, which sold for $17,500 against a presale estimate of $300 to $500, a pair of Venetian painted blackamoor acrobats, which sold for $10,625 (presale estimate $4,000 ­ 6,000), and a Louis XV style gilt bronze elephant clock, which sold for $9,375, estimated at $1,500-2,500.

The family's history and philanthropic work connected to Palm Beach drove interest in the collection. Philip Hulitar himself was a fashion designer and artist. Notably, he founded the Sculpture Garden for The Society of the Four Arts and went on to become Vice President and its chief benefactor. The Hulitars lived on North Ocean Boulevard in a 12,062-square-foot oceanfront home, designed by Marion Sims Wyeth, a prominent architect who also designed Mar-a-Lago. Both the exterior and interior offered a classic Palm Beach aesthetic with colorfully themed and synchronized rooms. 

Property from Villa Massei was sold February 27 in Leslie Hindman Auctioneers' Chicago saleroom, with the most aggressive bidding happening online. The selected 204 lots came from a hunting lodge near Lucca, Italy. Villa Massei was built around 1500 by the Counts Sinibaldi and with renowned Renaissance-style gardens accompanying the 60-acre estate. From 1981 until recently, Villa Massei was owned by Paul Gervais and Gil Cohen, who spent 34 years restoring and entertaining at the estate.

Top results from their collection include a painting of John the Baptist from the Florentine School. It sold for $27,500 against a $8,000 ­ 12,000 presale estimate. A pair of Italian School paintings sold for $6,000, exceeding the presale estimate of $3,000 to $5,000. Furniture performed well, such as a pair of custom-designed ebonized bookcases that sold for $5,250 against a presale estimate of $1,500 to $2,500 and an Italian neoclassical painted center table that sold for $4,250. The presale estimate was $2,000 to $4,000.

Both collections told the story of their owners, from worldly travelers with an eye for color to entertainers who created their Tuscan ideal. Conducted in both Palm Beach and Chicago, the auctions drew international buyers for the unique collections offered.