Knoxville art auction breaks records, brings in over $1.4 million

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Case Auction’s Winter Auction, a portrait by Beauford Delaney, broke multiple records and made half a million dollars over the total high estimate for the auction according to a press release. The items auctioned brought in over $1.4 million total based on information from Case Auction’s website.

One of the top pieces from the auction was Knoxville artist, Beauford Delaney’s Pastel Portrait of a Man. Delaney’s piece captured a man with striking blue eyes against a green background with blue linework throughout the portrait. Case said the piece sold for $48,000, which was a record high for a Delaney portrait on paper.

While Delaney grew up in Knoxville, he is known to be one of the few African-American painters associated with Abstract Expressionism. Before the auction, Sarah Drury, Vice President of Fine and Decorative Arts at Case Auctions, told WATE that the market for African American art has exploded both nationally and internationally in the last couple of years.

This increased interest may be what helped Church Picnic Scene by a self-taught, African American Artist, Helen Lafrance, sell for a record price at $25,6000 according to Case. Lafrance died in 2020. The piece doubled the record price for her work set last year at $12,000. Other works sold by African American artists included:

  • An exhibited William Edmondson limestone dipper sculpture – Sold for $33,280
  • An abstract expressionist oil painting by Merton Simpson – Sold for $8,125
  • A second Helen Lafrance painting, titled “Moving Day” – Sold for $14,080

This auction featured significantly more than paintings. Other interesting items that sold included an 1818 Benjamin Tyler Copy of the Declaration of Independence, an 1864 Louis Lot Paris Silver Flute, a Gustave Young factory engraved Colt .31 caliber, model 1849 pocket revolver, and a 1918 Gibson mandocello model K-1. To view the full list of items sold, click here.

Another notable item that sold was a Tiffany Lamp with hand-blown glass and a bronze base. According to Case, it was purchased in a tag sale for $130 and sold for $30,720 in the auction.

In total, Case Auction’s website shows 350 items that were auctioned that sold for $1,463,051 including buyer’s premiums.


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