The Andy Williams Collection of Navajo Blankets has sold at Sotheby's, with a fantastic first phase example bringing the highest bids in New York yesterday (May 21).
The blanket sold for $221,000, meeting its $200,000-300,000 estimate. First phase Navajo blankets are the most sought after of all Native American textiles and are considered an icon of Native American art.
The term "first phase" refers to the earliest blankets produced by the Navajo, which were made until around 1865 and are characterised by brown, white and blue bands. They are valued for their rarity, with less than 50 such blankets known to survive today.
Of these 50, there are just 13 known in the Bayeta design, such as the example at auction. Bayeta is the name given to the red cloth provided by the Spanish, which was used due to the Navajo having no good red dye of their own.
The current world record for any Navajo textile stands at $1.8m, after a similar example to that in the present sale sold in June 2012.
Also starring in the sale was a Yokuts polychrome pictorial coiled bowl, which matched its $50,000 high estimate. It was attributed to Mary Dick Topino, otherwise known as Mrs Britches, one of the finest of all weavers of the Yokuts people, natives of central California.
Andy Williams is hailed as one of the foremost collectors of Navajo textiles in history. He was also a renowned contemporary art collector, with much of his collection sold by Christie's on May 15-16.