Borein Watercolor Brings Top Dollar at Lebel's Mesa Old West Auction

The top lot at Brian Lebel’s Mesa Old West Auction was an action-packed watercolor by cowboy artist Edward Borein that realized $76,700 in front of a packed house at the 28th annual sale. 

MESA, AZ – 305 auction lots crossed the block on Saturday evening, January 20th at Brian Lebel’s Mesa Old West Auction, held live at the Phoenix Marriott Mesa in Mesa, Ariz. Total live sales topped $1.1 million, with an impressive 94.3% sell-through rate. The auction opened to a standing room only crowd of approximately 600 people, with additional bidders on 2 Internet platforms and a busy phone bank, as well as brisk absentee bidding.   

The top seller of the night was lot 139, an Edward Borein watercolor that sold for $76,700, firmly within its $65,000 – 85,000 presale estimate. Lebel’s auctions traditionally do extremely well with Borein’s work, and hold a number of auction sales records for the artist. A smaller watercolor by the artist brought $12,980. The second highest selling lot was lot 201, a shirt, leggings and moccasins outfit that belonged to famed Apache Chief and Geronimo’s nephew, Asa Daklugie, which brought $56,050 to an absentee bidder.

LD Stone Saddle

Continuing the recent trend, cowboy material was very strong. A Bohlin Rose Parade silver parade saddle that once belonged to Bob Tanner brought more than its high estimate of $40,000 realizing $47,200 to a determined phone bidder. Miniature saddles did exceptionally well, with the one-of-a-kind L.D. Stone salesman sample-sized saddle that almost doubled its low estimate, ultimately realizing $44,250 to a floor bidder in the room. The highly anticipated set of Duff Severe salesman sample-sized saddles that had once been displayed at the Smithsonian realized $26,550.

Salesman sample saddles were not the only popular miniatures of the evening. A group of three Roy Luttrell miniature wagons each brought more than 4 times their high estimates of $4,000, selling for $18,800, $20,060 and $21,240 each after fast-paced bidding between a floor bidder and an absentee bidder. They were the runaway items of the night, resulting in a round of applause from the packed room.  

Hollywood cowboys did well, with a Matt Dillon “Gunsmoke” used Colt Single Action bringing $24,780 to a floor bidder, which was more than twice its low estimate of $10,000. Monte Hale’s Colt Single Action realized $9,440, almost 8 times its low estimate of $1,200. Who says the old Hollywood cowboys have been forgotten?

Auction owner, Brian Lebel is pleased with the results. “I am thrilled to see that cowboy material continues to sell well,” says Lebel. “This business is always changing, but it’s heartening to know that great material still sells for great prices. We say that all the time in our business, but it’s nice to be reminded that it’s true.”

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The Old West Show saw record-breaking crowds on Saturday, and brisk dealer and early-buy-in sales on Friday. Vendors were extremely happy, and there were numerous reports of nearly sold-out booths and six-figure sales. Next year’s Mesa Event dates are January 26, 2019 for the Auction and Jan 26-27 for the Mesa Old West Show. The June Cody Old West Show & Auction will celebrate its 29th annual event this June 23-24, 2018 at its new venue in Santa Fe, NM at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. Visit OldWestEvents.com for details.

(all prices include buyer’s premium)

Rare Alfred Jacob Miller Watercolor Sells for $141,600 at Lebel’s Old West Auction

The top lot at Brian Lebel’s 28th annual Old West Auction was a small watercolor by American frontier artist Alfred Jacob Miller that realized $141,600 after spirited bidding.  

FORT WORTH, TX – 420 auction lots crossed the block on the evening of June 10, 2017 at Brian Lebel’s Old West Auction, held live at the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall of the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Total sales were just shy of $1 million with an astonishing 94% sell-through rate. Approximately 300 people attended the live event, with several hundred more bidding on the Internet and phone.  

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The top seller of the night was lot 179, an Alfred Jacob Miller watercolor that sold for $141,600, firmly within its $125,000 - 175,000 presale estimate. Miller traveled and painted the far American West in the early frontier years, and though he was not particularly famous in his lifetime, he is now considered among the greatest painters of the American West. 

As always, cowboy artifacts and trappings were strong sellers, with a custom and rare pair of Bob Boone spurs bringing $41,300 to an excited floor bidder, and realizing more than twice their low estimate. A pair of custom Bohlin spurs designed to commemorate the Texas Sesquicentennial realized an impressive $17,700. Also by Bohlin was a stunning “Beverly Special” parade saddle, which brought $20,650, just surpassing its high estimate of $20,000.

There are always a few surprise run-away items, and this sale was no exception. A wonderful photograph of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West cast that had been taken at Auburn prison sold for $4,720, which was more than 5 times its low estimate. Also selling at more than 5 times its low estimate was a Colt revolver that had been used by actress Gail Davis in the television character of Annie Oakley. Estimated at $1,800 – 2,400, it sold for $10,030 to a phone bidder.

Auction owner, Brian Lebel is pleased with the results, and equally pleased with the overall interest in the sale. “We had great response,” Lebel says. “We had an increase in bidders over last June on every level: live, phone and internet.” He attributes the uptick to the wide variety of material offered. “This was one of those auctions where there was a little bit of everything, in all price ranges no less. That keeps it interesting for more people.” 

Lebel’s Old West Events also hosts the annual Brian Lebel’s High Noon Show and Auction in Mesa, Arizona, which will be held January 20-21, 2018. For more information about either event, including how to become a Show vendor or Auction consignor, visit www.oldwestevents.com or call 480-779-9378.
(all prices include buyer’s premium)