01 August 2021

eBay Deja Vu

I've been doing the series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010) for so long that I sometimes can't remember if I'm about to repeat an item that was featured years earlier. A case in point is the painting pictured below. I had the distinct feeling that I'd seen the item before, but a couple of searches on my blog returned nothing.

Adding to the tricks on my memory was the discovery that the painting was listed on eBay as having been sold twice in July by the same seller -- once mid-month and once end-month -- without any mention of difficulties arising from the first sale, like non-payment. The title of both auctions was '19thC Antique Juan Gonzales 18thC Palace Interior, Chess Game Oil Painting, NR'.

The first time the painting was listed it sold for US $730 after 16 bids from 9 bidders; the second time it sold for US $660 after 27 bids from 14 bidders. The winning bid on the first auction was submitted three seconds before the auction ended and it was the only bid by the winning bidder. The second auction started a day after the first auction ended. The description of both auctions said,

This auction is for a 19th century, Victorian oil painting by the Spanish/Peruvian artist, Juan Antonio Gonzales (1842-1914). It depicts a detailed, 18th century palace room with a Cardinal and several aristocrats enjoying a game of chess. This opulent, marble room is decorated with statues, architectural accents and paintings. Signed in the lower left-hand corner Juan Antonio Gonzales this original oil painting is in very good condition.

The canvas has been professionally re-lined and, under the blacklight, we did find a couple of small, invisibly in-painted restorations. Executed on 19” by 27” stretched canvas, this 19th century painting comes in an antique, 21” by 20½” frame, which has been repainted gold and does have some edge wear.

Even after discovering that the painting had been listed twice, I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd seen it before, especially the distinctive white bust over the fireplace behind the players. A search on the artist's name ('Gonzalez' also works) revealed several copies of the work. The most important listing was Juan Antonio Gonzales, Peruvian, 1822-1914 (christies.com). It said,

Property from a Massachusetts estate • A competative [sic] game of chess • Price realised USD 4,375 • Estimate USD 1,500 - USD 2,000 • Closed: 17 Dec 2010

If the phrase 'original oil painting' in the eBay description was accurate, the painting must have been the same as in the Christie's auction. Someone lost money on the eBay auction.

Back to the first paragraph and my concern about repeating a featured item, I don't have that problem with the item in the March 2010 post, an Alcoa chess set from Austin Enterprises. I see that same chess set every time I look at 'Top eBay Chess Items'. For this post, I found 21 of the Alcoa sets sold in the last three months.

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