In a sale that was supposed to focus on the art of Raymond A. Whyte a last minute entry delivers the cake.

(St. Petersburg, FL) Burchard Galleries owner Jeff Burchard was confident well ahead of his August 24 sale that this would be a signature event. He was featuring over 45 works of art and personal artifacts of portrait and surrealist painter Raymond A. Whyte (American 1923-2002). While Whyte’s work is on display in many major collections, they are seldom offered for sale and this presented a rare opportunity for art collectors. In addition to the Whyte works over 450 lots of art, furniture, silver and jewelry were to cross the block.

horner.jpgOnly thirteen days before the sale and on deadline day for the placement of an ad for the sale, Burchard received a call from a lady from across the bay in Tampa who asked if he was interested in selling a dining room set she and her husband owned. Always game Burchard said, “Sure. Do you have some photos?” When the emailed photos arrived minutes later Burchard was astounded. A contract was signed and Burchard was able to include the set in the last advertisement.

The consignors told the story of the set being acquired from a dealer nearly twenty years ago by a member of the prominent Lykes family of Tampa. But Mrs. Lykes felt the set was too large and returned it to the dealer who then offered it to the current owners, a Tampa doctor and his wife. He described the set as being German from the Black Forest region around the turn of the century. He was right about the date but wrong about the origin. The set turned out to be a show stopping “Man of the Mountain” twelve piece oak figural set by none other than the famous American cabinetmaker and carver R. J. Horner of New York. Burchard said it has been reported that Hollywood actor Angelina Jolie has a matching set.

The set included a 39in diameter quarter sawn oak table with five 14in leaves and caryatid figural legs, a 93in tall by 74in wide sideboard with Horner winged griffin shelf supports and Man of the Mountain front supports, a 68in high by 54½in wide server with the same front supports, an unusual five panel glass triple front china cabinet with figural columns, 98½in high by 53½in wide with serpentine glass flanking the center panel with glass shelves, mirrored back and illumination and a set of eight matching chairs with two captain’s and six sides.

This outstanding set, carrying a presale estimate of $30,000/$50,000, attracted 32 bids and quickly outstripped the estimate to close on the phone to an Alabama buyer for $80,500 including the fifteen percent buyer’s premium.

The sale, carried live online by LiveAuctioneers.com, attracted 193 bidders registered in- house and 2855 registered online with 350 people in attendance.

All of the lots from the Whyte estate were sold without reserve and in keeping with the “surprise” theme of the day, many far exceeded their estimates. The top Whyte lot was an oil on masonite of woman in a green velvet dress with embroidered brocade drape, 30 by 18in. Estimated at $700/$900, it sold for $4,500 plus premium. It was followed by a surreal oil on board of chrysanthemums in a crystal vase with bronze cherub supports, 10¾ by 9? in. Estimated at $600-$800 it closed at $4,000. But the biggest Whyte surprise was a Classic Games Napoleonic plastic chess set hand painted by Raymond Whyte. It doubled the estimate selling for $1,100. Virtually all other Whyte items exceeded the estimate.

Still other unanticipated results lurked in the sale. One was a Zsolnay Hungarian pottery loving cup, 8¼in high. It had an obviously repaired break in the stem and was estimated at $150/$200. To Burchard’s amusement it drew 38 bids and soared to $4,500 plus premium.

But the biggest amazement of the day for Burchard occurred about one third of the way through the sale. As he prepared to announce the next lot, suddenly a Mariachi band dressed in traditional Mexican Mariachi attire walked into the gallery playing and singing Che Lito Lindo and then Happy Birthday in honor of Jeff Burchard’s birthday. The auction then proceeded and the band played in the lobby for another hour.

For more information call (727) 821-1167 or (800) 520-2787, email to [email protected] or visit the website at www.burchardgalleries.com. Burchard Galleries normally has an auction the last weekend each month with a “discovery auction” on Saturday and an antiques sale on Sunday. Check the website for details.

Written by:
Fred Taylor


Horner – This mountain size “Man of the Mountain” dining room set made by R. J.
Horner was top lot of the sale at $80,500.