Bruce Richards' Modern Living depicts a single card balancing precariously atop a 14-story tower of cards. The oil-on-canvas painting, nearly five feet tall, was part of Dewey & LeBoeuf's massive art collection that was auctioned off February 1 in Washington.
The collapse of Dewey & LeBoeuf played out over a few months, but it took less than a minute to auction off most of the pieces in the firm's art collection. Modern Living, valued between $1,000 and $2,000, sold for $700.
About two dozen people gathered on the second floor of Weschler's Auctioneers & Appraisers along E Street NW to bid on pieces dating from the late 19th century to modern art. In all, 91 pieces were sold for $528,120, including a 20 percent auctioneer's fee added to winning bids.
Bidders snacked on cookies and cake, coupled with coffee or water. Still others placed their bids on the phone or through the internet.
The piece fetching the highest price was an untitled abstract by Christopher Wool, which sold for $200,000. The five-and-a-half-foot by four-foot piece is a mashup of circles, dots and number signs, dated from 1997.
On February 22, Weschler's will auction off Dewey's vintage posters and a few lots of fine art as well. The auction will feature posters like Fronte del Porto, the Italian version of On the Waterfront featuring a deranged-looking Marlon Brando.
A spokeswoman for the auction house referred questions about whether the proceeds would go toward creditors connected with Dewey's bankruptcy to a company the firm hired to handle the matter. That company was unavailable for comment.
Photos by The National Law Journal's Matthew Huisman.