Past Auction

Doyle New York's Auction of the Leo Lerman & Gray Foy Collection Surpasses Pre-Sale Estimate

Tue, Sep 24, 2013 at 10am EDT |
New York
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September 24, 2013 Auction Comprised the Extensive Collection Assembled by Famed Author and Conde Nast Editor Leo Lerman and Artist Gray Foy

  • September 24, 2013 Auction Comprised the Extensive Collection Assembled by Famed Author and Conde Nast Editor Leo Lerman and Artist Gray Foy
  • Sale Totaled $831,519 Against a Pre-Sale Estimate of $413,600-630,600
  • 1833 Watercolor Depicting a Bear in the Forest by German Artist Aloys Zotl Fetches $125,000

Doyle New York was honored to auction the Leo Lerman & Gray Foy Collection on September 24, 2013. This important auction comprised the extensive collection assembled by famed author and Conde Nast editor Leo Lerman (1914-1994) and artist Gray Foy (1922-2012).  Included were over 650 lots of furniture, decorative arts, paintings, books, photographs and ephemera collected over more than fifty years for their home in the historic Osborne near Carnegie Hall. It was in those elaborately decorated rooms that the pair regularly hosted lively -- and now legendary -- soirees for their myriad friends, including Marlene Dietrich, Maria Callas, Truman Capote and many others.

With international competitive bidding, the sale totaled $831,519, surpassing the pre-sale estimate of $413,600-630,600, with an exceptional 98% sold by lot and 94% by value.


The top lot of the day was an 1833 watercolor titled Bear in the Forest by Aloys Zotl (German, 1803-1897) that soared past its estimate of $15,000-25,000 to achieve a stunning $125,000. Other paintings in the collection featured a view of Raspberries on the Forest Interior Floor by William Mason Brown (American, 1828-1898) that sold for $12,500. By Pavel Tchelitchew (Russian, 1898-1957) was a gouache Portrait of Alice Astor Pleydell-Bouverie that fetched $10,000. Dated 1881 was a work titled The Bear Discussion by William Holbrook Beard (American, 1824-1900) that sold for $10,000.


The array of colorful leaded glass lamps in the collection featured a circa 1910 bronze and leaded glass Red Poppies floor lamp by Duffner & Kimberly that sold for $68,750, exceeding its estimate of $40,000-60,000. Representing John Morgan & Sons  was a circa 1905 patinated-spelter and enameled leaded glass Pansy lamp that surpassed its estimate of $8,000-12,000 and fetched $15,000. From Tiffany Studios was an early 20th century bronze and favrile glass Linenfold counter balance desk lamp that achieved $6,875 against an estimate of $4,000-6,000.


Photography in the collection featured Irving Penn’s (1917-2009) Fish, New York, circa 1939, which achieved $12,500. A platinum-palladium print flush-mounted on aluminum and printed in 1983, it was inscribed by Penn to Leo Lerman.

Volcanic Eruptions

The Lerman and Foy Collection contained numerous Neapolitan School gouache depictions of volcanic eruptions, mostly of Mount Vesuvius, which performed strongly in the auction. A 20th century example titled L'Eruzione del Vesuvio del 1822 achieved $10,000, far surpassing its estimate of $300-500. Another 20th century depiction tilted The Volcano's Path exceeded its estimate of $400-600, fetching $8,750. Swatch for Mount Vesuvius Studies, a 20th century work that was a composite of differing views of Vesuvius sold for $7,500, many times its estimate of $800-1,200. Dating to the mid-19th century was a pair of Victorian papier mache fire screens with painted and mother-of-pearl inset panels depicting erupting volcanoes that sold for $6,875, well over the estimate of $2,000-4,000.

Decorative Arts

The Lerman and Foy Collection was particularly rich in collections of decorative arts representing a number of collecting categories. Among these were Majolica, treenware, porcelain plates and tea services, glass, faux bamboo, shell art and valentines, desk accessories, wax centerpieces, horn, paperweights, silver boxes and other articles, and Staffordshire figures.

Highlighting the decorative arts was an unusual 19th century German carved wood owl-form tobacco jar that soared past its estimate of $2,000-3,000, selling for $9,375. A companion pair of circa 1872 Minton Majolica vases, Model 1692, designed as a bamboo stalk with playful monkeys achieved $4,688, well over the estimate of $1,200-1,800. An unusual late 19th century wool and cloth composition figure of Father Christmas, probably German, height 25 inches, estimated at $500-700, sold for $3,750. A late 19th century Continental carved wood figural group of cattle on a rock carved base, height 22 inches, width 30 inches, sold for $3,750, several times its estimate of $800-1,200. A late 19th century Victorian wax floral arrangement under a glass dome, height 21 inches, fetched $3,125, far surpassing its estimate of $300-500. 


Highlighting the furniture in the collection was an early 20th century Continental Art Nouveau marquetry inlaid fruitwood and brass fold-over card table that sold for $8,125, many times its estimate of $1,500-2,000. A pair of large circa 1870 American Renaissance Revival walnut bookcase cabinets achieved $5,313, more than doubling the estimate of $1,500-2,500. A set of eight 19th century Dutch Rococo Revival carved oak dining chairs estimated at $1,200-1,800 fetched $4,375. Among the Black Forest objects was a late 19th century carved oak hall stand in the form of two bears climbing a tree that sold for $4,375 against an estimate of $2,000-3,000. Rustic Branch furniture performed strongly during the sale, including a pair of 19th century armchairs estimated at $1,000-2,000 that fetched $3,750.

All prices include the Buyer’s Premium.

>>> View Opening Night Reception Party Pics!!!

Take a video tour of the home of Leo Lerman & Gray Foy in the historic Osborne below!

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  • The Leo Lerman and Gray Foy Collection

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