Mel Gibson, Wife Lose Big on $5.2 Million Parrish Painting Sale
Maxfield Parrish’s famous 1922 “Daybreak” sold for $5.2 million today at Christie’s International in New York, at the low end of the $4 million to $7 million presale estimate.
The seller was actor Mel Gibson and his wife, Robyn, who filed for divorce last year. The buyer was an unnamed phone bidder.
The price was well below the $7.6 million Robyn Gibson paid at Christie’s in 2006. At the time, the price established an auction record for Parrish. The painting had previously sold for $4.3 million at Sotheby’s in 1996 when it was purchased by billionaire James Jannard, founder of the Oakley Inc. sunglasses company.
“The Parrish market is very small,” said dealer Betty Krulik, standing near the front of the Christie’s Rockefeller Center salesroom. “The owners were the big recent buyers,” she said. “Another big buyer -- Michael Jackson -- is dead. That limits competition.”
Jim Halperin, co-chairman of Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, was one of two contenders bidding for the Parrish over the phone. He said he owns about a dozen Parrish paintings, and he and his wife had picked out a spot for “Daybreak” in their living room.
“I would have bid more but I couldn’t get financing, so I bid up to what I had liquid,” said Halperin in a telephone interview. “I feel like I gave it my best shot. It was a great deal.”
Layers of Paint
Parrish, a celebrated illustrator and artist, originally painted the bucolic scene for reproduction as a print. To create the work’s atmospheric effects, he used a signature method involving thin layers of paint.
“There’s a degree of innocence and perfection to the technique,” said Eric Widing, head of Christie’s American painting department. “It is unlike anything anyone else has been able to achieve.”
“Daybreak” is just one of a group of Parrish works the Gibsons are offering today at Christie’s. The group is estimated to sell for around $15 million. Another Parrish, a 13-foot-long 1910 mural, “Sing a Song of Sixpence,” sold for $2.2 million, below the $2.5 million low estimate. It had hung in the living room of the Gibsons’ Greenwich, Connecticut, home. The mural was originally in Chicago’s Sherman House Hotel.
The Christie’s sale includes 179 lots and is projected to total between $36 million and $56 million. The sale’s price reflects buyer’s fees. Estimates do not.
Yesterday Sotheby’s American art auction totaled $31.9 million, led by a 1926 black-and-white Georgia O’Keeffe floral that fetched $4.1 million.
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