DALLAS — A set of carved alabaster angels with gilded wings sold for $28,800 and an 1800s oil painting of Columbus’s discovery of America brought $41,600 at an auction of items from the estate of Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim, the co-founder of Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.
Pilgrim’s Pride, once headquartered in Pittsburg, had operations in 17 states and Mexico, more than 35,000 employees and thousands of trucks. Pilgrim died in July 2017 at age 89. He sold the international poultry operation to Brazilian beef company JBS in 2009, and its headquarters was moved to Greeley, Colorado.
His sprawling 43-acre estate that included a roughly 18,000-square-foot mansion with six bedrooms and 10 full and one-half bathrooms outside Pittsburg was auctioned in October.
Items from his estate headlined the auction Nov. 2-4 by J. Garrett Auctioneers, online and in the Dallas gallery. Also offered were items from Richard Horton of Fort Worth, who amassed a museum-quality collection spanning over 50 years.
“This sale was very reminiscent of the good old auction days,” said Julie Garrett VanDolen of J. Garrett Auctioneers. “We had the perfect storm of a big name, some fantastic merchandise and a phenomenal live crowd here on the floor. Many of our best customers and friends flew in to preview and bid.”
VanDolen said the sale grossed more than $2 million, and all prices quoted include a 28% buyer’s premium. The major Pilgrim pieces alone totaled nearly $250,000.
The three alabaster angels — 47 inches tall and bearing gifts and playing musical instruments — were the first item up for bid.
“Nothing kicks off an auction like hands in the air and a bidding war on the very first lot of a sale,” VanDolen said. “These were estimated low, and a floor bidder wasn’t leaving without them. ... They will make for a killer holiday décor.”
The 63-inch-by-76-inch, 19th-century oil-on-canvas painting by Nicolaas Pienemann (Dutch, 1809-1860), titled “Columbus Discovers America,” met and sailed past its high estimate of $30,000.
“The painting ... was acquired by a prominent art gallery,” VanDolen said. “It may end up in a museum.”
Pilgrim’s large American gilt bronze and white marble centerpiece, made around 1905 by Edward F. Caldwell & Co. of New York, sold for $60,800. The piece consists of a large marble bowl held by two Greco-Roman figures. The bronze is ornately decorated with bacchanalia masks.
The buyer was Caldwell’s granddaughter, Margaret “Meg” Caldwell of New York.
“It was actually an emotional moment when the hammer dropped, and Dad was able to announce our phone bidder was Ms. Caldwell,” VanDolen said. “There was a special energy running through the crowd at that moment, followed by a round of applause and even a few happy tears.”
Other Pilgrim items sold include:
- A pair of rare Royal Vienna urns, circa 1880 and standing 57 inches tall on footed stands, for $54,400. The capped urns were topped by bronze antlered gargoyle handles and featured gold decoration on a burgundy field. Each urn was painted in vibrant colors on one side depicting Apollo and attendants heralding the dawn of Venus and Mars and on the other side showing Justice and a muse.
- A Louis XVI bedroom suite, crafted after the design of Jean-Henri Riesener (French, 1734-1806) for the commode of La Chambre de Louis XVI at Versailles, for $48,000. The suite consisted of a bedframe, a 9-foot-5-inch armoire signed “JRA” and a pair of nightstands. The ormolu mounts were done by Jean Rabiant, with fruitwood marquetry and parquetry mahogany.
- An oil-on-canvas painting of a girl in a field and reaching for a flower, by the Lebanese abstract artist Elie Kanaan (Lebanese, 1926-2009), for $35,200.
- A 34-inch-by-29-inch framed KPM (Konigliche Porzellan Manufaktur) plaque (a highly glazed, enamel painting on a porcelain base), for $17,920.