David and Peggy Rockefeller had an eye for high-quality porcelain works, and it shows in the numerous captivating animal figurines for sale in the online auction. They seem to be a crowd pleaser. A rather adorable Chinese porcelain figure of a seated cat from the 19th century was estimated to bring in $400 to $600, but the price is currently hovering at $1,300. Peanuts compared to the $100 million Picasso, but still not a impulse buy.
Then there is the pair of small English porcelain models of leopards, a favorite of Carleigh Queenth, head of the porcelain department at Christie’s. “This pair of leopards is quite charming,” she said. “I find their scowling expressions amusing—at 3 inches long, they are definitely too small to frighten anyone!” Indeed, they’re not scaring off any buyers. Bidding has already reached $5,000, 10 times the high estimate of $500. But there is still an affordable pair of porcelain animals on offer—a duo of Staffordshire poodles are hovering at $300, just around the high estimate.
Just because a work isn’t fetching six figures doesn’t mean it lacks history. One object that fuses an unexpected backstory with utility—and is a favorite of Jill Waddell, a senior specialist at Christie’s—is a silver milk jug given to David Rockefeller by Henry Kissinger upon the publication of his autobiography in 1999. That piece is currently hovering at around $1,900 on an estimate between $200 and $300.
There’s also a Regency mahogany canterbury from the 19th century attributed to Gillows (c. 1810), currently going for $1,000 on an estimate between $400 and $600. Elizabeth Seigel, a specialist in decorative art at the auction house, called it “a fantastic conversation starter, not only because of the Rockefeller provenance, but the fact that it was purchased from the 2012 estate of his friend Brooke Astor.”