Brooke Astor auction at Sotheby's fetching high prices

brooke-astor-sothebys-auction-gi.jpgSotheby's has commenced auctioning off the belongings of late New York City philanthropist Brooke Astor, and the bidding is feverish.

A total of 901 fine objects -- ranging from European and Asian furnishings to Qing Dynasty paintings to jewelry to over 100 dog paintings -- collected from Astor's two sprawling homes are up for bidding. Proceeds from the auction go to Astor's favorite charities and causes including the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bronx Zoo, Central Park, the Animal Medical Center of New York and New York City's public schools among others.

While the entire collection was expected to bring in a total of $6 million to $9 million over two days, the first day alone reportedly tallied $6.7 million. Many items are far outpacing estimates, like a bronze figure of a six-headed Tibetan deity that was estimated at $2,500 to $3,500 and sold for $134,500.

The 1868 oil on panel "A Memlook Bey, Egypt" by John Frederick Lewis sold for $1.6 million, more than triple Sotheby's $500,000 high estimate.

Astor died in 2007 but the auction was held up by a five-year dispute involving her only son, Anthony Marshall, who was found guilty of first-degree grand larceny for improper involvement in Astor's will and finances and is currently appealing his conviction.
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