Just in case you thought all of the big surprises were in the market for Chinese works of art, Sotheby’s today made another great sale on an American Indian artifact:
Sotheby’s today set a new record for a piece of American Indian Art at auction when an Oglala Sioux Beaded and Fringed Hide War Shirt which once belonged to the famous and celebrated Sioux Chief, Black Bird sold to an anonymous buyer for $2,658,500 (est. $250/350,000).*
The War Shirt led the sale which totaled $4,809,503. This was comfortably over the high estimate and the highest ever total for a various owner sale in this category (overall est. $2.8/4 million). Two determined telephone bidders battled for several minutes before auctioneer Hugh Hildesley brought the hammer down. In addition to the provenance, the shirt is made all the more remarkable by the existence of photographs showing it being worn by its original owner. Photographic documentation of an artifact as important as the Oglala Sioux Shirt is very rare. In this case though, several images exist of Chief Black Bird wearing the shirt, providing an important insight to its history and to the life of the Chief who was one of the most documented Native Americans of his generation.