Treasures come to light at show

Published 9:36 pm Saturday, March 22, 2014

Edward King of Riddick’s Folly, right, appraises a painting brought in by Charles and Holly Lewis to Saturday’s Hidden Treasures fundraiser at the Suffolk National Guard Armory.

Edward King of Riddick’s Folly, right, appraises a painting brought in by Charles and Holly Lewis to Saturday’s Hidden Treasures fundraiser at the Suffolk National Guard Armory.

The jury’s still out on whether a painting brought to the Riddick’s Folly Hidden Treasures antiques appraisal show on Saturday is almost worthless — or worth millions of dollars.

It’s a smaller version of Franz Marc’s 1911 painting “The Large Blue Horses,” the larger of which hangs in the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minn. Suffolk’s Ron and Faye Sobel inherited it from his family a couple of years ago.

The worth of this particular painting hinges on if Marc himself did this smaller version of one of his most important paintings. If not, that means it’s a copy by some other talented — but unknown — artist.

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“I love it anyway,” Ron Sobel said as several experts crowded around the painting.

The Sobels never thought twice about the painting, which features three blue horses in front of a rolling landscape of yellow, red and green.

If by the original artist, and not just a copy of a larger painting by Franz Marc, this artwork owned by Ron and Faye Sobel could be worth millions of dollars.

If by the original artist, and not just a copy of a larger painting by Franz Marc, this artwork owned by Ron and Faye Sobel could be worth millions of dollars.

Faye Sobel, in fact, assumed someone in her husband’s family had created it, until the Sobels spied a similar one featured on a news report about a large hoard discovered in 2012 in a Munich apartment, the collection of a recluse whose father sold art on behalf of the Nazis during World War II, according to a story by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. That one had been confiscated by the Nazis, who condemned Marc for producing “degenerate un-German” art. It’s unclear whether the one found in the Nazi hoard was done before or after the piece owned by the Minneapolis art center.

Edward King, curator and director at Riddick’s Folly and appraiser of paintings at Saturday’s show, said there’s no way to know whether the Sobels’ piece — which is unsigned, as was the original — was done by Marc without taking it out of the frame and inspecting the paper on the back.

“We’ll see if it fluoresces underneath a black light,” King said. Marc died in 1916, and the older paper available at that time will not fluoresce under a black light, King said.

“We’re going to do some more research on it, and we hope that’s who it is in the long run,” King said.

Another exciting find at the show was brought in by Thom Robertson. His Scottish landscape painting by Alfred de Breanski was valued at $25,000.

He inherited it a couple of years ago from a longtime family friend, he said. He had seen the fundraiser advertised and figured the $7 per-item cost was a good deal to find out how much his painting was worth.

“I thought (it was worth) between $5,000 and $10,000 maybe, but it’s hard to tell,” he said, adding he plans to have the painting cleaned and place it with an auction house.

King said he was pleased with the turnout for the show, the proceeds from which help with the daily operation and maintenance of the Riddick’s Folly House Museum on North Main Street.

“It was steady the whole day,” he said. “We saw some really interesting pieces.”

Appraisers in a variety of areas of expertise were on hand at the show. They inspected toys, quilts, jewelry, firearms, Civil War items, furniture, silver and more.

Other items of note at the show included a Salvador Dali painting, appraised at $15,000; a cast-iron Mr. Peanut valued at $6,000; a George Wellington Waters landscape placed at $8,000 to $10,000; an 1880s typewriter valued at $3,000 to $6,000; a key basket valued at $5,000 to $6,000; a ruby and diamond watch bracelet valued at $1,500 to $2,000; and an 1830s English doll appraised at $3,000.