For much of his life, Kansas City philanthropist and arts advocate David Stickelber was a passionate collector. And he had the resources to indulge his interests. His father, Merlin A. Stickelber, was a successful inventor who patented innovative bakery industry equipment and operated the M.A. Stickelber & Sons manufacturing company. After David Stickelber's death last year, at age 83, most of his art and antiques were shipped to the Chicago offices of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.
The auction was held November 8 and included French and Continental furnishings, Asian art and antiquities, English and French silver and china, books and manuscripts, rare Chinese porcelain, and Andy Warhol's gold Cartier tank watch (which Stickelber purchased at the auction of Warhol's possessions in 1988).
According to a Stickelber relative in attendance, the auction was "very well-attended and very exciting."
"There were a lot of dealers from around the Midwest in attendance and a lot of activity over the phones and the Internet," the relative says. "David was a very particular collector with many interests. He was very, very picky. He had the money to collect fine things, but he was just as passionate in becoming educated about all of the things he was interested in."
Leslie Hindman was very pleased with how the auction turned out; the prices ran on the high side of the estimated bids listed in the catalog.
"People love single-owner auctions," Hindman says. "The collection of a single collector is always very interesting. And the Stickelber collection, in particular, was filled with beautiful, quality things."
A few of the items that brought higher than predicted prices were a 16th-century portrait of Madonna and child with St. John ($11,250); a silver-and-enamel stamp box created by the Russian jeweler Faberge ($13,750); and an Egyptian carved limestone tomb fragment from the third century B.C., depicting the bust of a sarcophagus with remnants of polychrome decoration ($57,500). The Warhol watch sold for $10,625. Two Joan Miro aquatints went for $8,750 and $12,500, respectively.
Stickelber's mansion, tucked behind a red brick wall across the street from the Kansas City Art Institute, is still listed for sale.