Likely a world record price for any Lalique Car Mascot at auction was achieved on Saturday November 26th in Chester Springs Pennsylvania, smack in the middle of old Hunt Country west of Philadelphia. The unsigned R. Lalique Renard Hood Ornament appeared at Wiederseim Associates Inc. Auction House, run by Ted And Jill Wiederseim, just a stone’s throw *** from Rhoads Auction House which sold the great Red Hirondelles Vase in November 2010.
Because the rare mascot was not signed and was amongst hundreds of porcelain and other decorative foxes all out of the same house, it was understandably not catalogued as a period R. Lalique glass mascot. It was sold as part of Lot 515 shown above, with four other decorative foxes all for the single estimate of $100-$150. An alert staffer here at RLalique.com spotted the above photo amongst the thousands of auction reports that pour into World Headquarters on a daily basis, and recognized the rare R.Lalique Renard (the French word for fox), likely the rarest and most valuable of all commercial Rene Lalique Car Mascot models. We promptly informed the auction house of the likely amazing treasure they had hidden in plain sight, and placed the great fox in the Worldwide Auction Listings here on the website. This triggered immediate inquiries into Wiederseim from all over the world.
Much was made in certain circles about the lack of signature on the great fox. But as readers of this website are aware, R. Lalique pieces are not authenticated by their signatures. They speak for themselves.
The certain circles we refer to are a couple of R Lalique dealers one of which has disparaged the mascot in what we consider outrageous circumstances, while the other dealer was apparently just completely making stuff up. Both circulated information to the effect that this great item was possibly a “factory reject” (how many of you have seen an R Lalique “factory reject”, or heard that term used in reference to R. Lalique?), and both have also inferred at times that it might not be a genuine R. Lalique car mascot.
Strangely, while knocking down the piece (and maybe by happenstance knocking down the number of bidders and the price the remaining bidders might be willing to pay :), both dealers reserved phone lines for phone bidding!!!! You cannot make this stuff up.
One of these dealers, let’s call this person “Hound Dog”, went so far as to post commentary on the internet even the day after the sale, questioning if the piece was even genuine, disparaging the condition and the price paid, and suggesting it might be a modern copy of some sort. This again, was after reserving a phone bid line and being on the phone with the auction house during the bidding.
The second dealer, let’s call this person “Humpty Dumpty” has seemingly made up the fact that the mascot was broken apart in a significant way in at least a couple of places and glued back together! And he sent emails out to this effect prior to the auction, along with a scandalous theory of a Lalique factory worker picking the parts of the rejected piece out of a trash bin at the factory and taking them home to put them back together again as best he could! Friends, it’s story time in Fantasy Land.
Oh, Humpty Dumpty also stated as fact in his emails that all R. Lalique pieces were signed before leaving the factory. This is obviously incorrect, and we would refer Mr. Dumpty and all readers to the article here at RLalique.com discussing Authentic Rene Lalique Signatures and to the page on Authentic R Lalique Signatures as well for more information on this point.
So while the yelping from the sideshow was a bit of a distraction leading up to the sale, it did nothing to curb the enthusiasm of bidders from all over the world as many collectors lined up to try and acquire this seldom seen mascot.
The auction house, having only two international capable phones, had to acquire additional phones for the worldwide bidding scramble that ensued upon our listing the fox here! U.S. phone bidders were also heard from, as were a couple of bidders in the room during the sale, including one well known long time dealer who personally inspected the fox before wading into the bidding.
In the end, with the price starting at $25,000 and moving up quickly from there, two phone bidders both from the UK, left the competition behind, reportedly at around $140,000 to $150,000, and took it up to $175,000 ($204,750 with the buyers premium) before the hammer came down on this historic sale of the unassuming, unsigned, but no longer unsung Lalique Hood Ornament.
If you are wondering how the Renard Mascot came to Wiederseim, here is the short version:
Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours came from France to the United States in 1800 with his two sons Victor Marie du Pont and Eleuthère Irénée du Pont. Eleuthère started up a little company called E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (most people today just say DuPont). At the start, they made gunpowder. No need to discuss the entire history of the duPont Family in America, but several generations removed from the auspicious start as gunpowder makers, a descendant, John Eleuthère duPont was born in 1938 in Philadelphia. He was the son of William duPont Jr., who among other things, imported from England the famous racehorse The Satrap, winner of the Chesham Stakes at Ascot, the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood, and at Newmarket both the Chesterfield Stakes and the July Stakes. In 1996, John tragically shot and killed (yes, using gunpowder) a U.S. Olympic Gold Medal Wrestler named Dave Shultz who was living on his Foxcatcher Farm estate, a property John had taken over after the death of his mother and which he had named Foxcatcher after his father’s famous horse racing stable. John was found guilty of murder in 1997 and died in prison in 2010.
John collected decorative foxes, lots of them. And after his death, and after the house had been swept through by a major New York City based auction house to have their pick of the most valuable items (oops, they missed something), a slew of decorative foxes along with a ton of other stuff were turned over to Wiederseim for auction. Among the relatively low value foxes was the great R. Lalique Renard Car Mascot about which we write today; missed once but not twice, now with the duPont provenance, and headed off to the UK with a world record price tag.
For more information about Lalique’s car mascots including links to all mascot resources on the website, visit the Rene Lalique Biography Car Mascots section here at THE address on the web for everything R. Lalique.
***Stone’s Throw – slang for a short distance (heck, how far can you throw a stone?)
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