New York’s Magical Holiday Season
THE AUCTIONS. THE MUSEUMS. THE SHOPPING. THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS JUST MIGHT BE A COLLECTOR’S BEST FRIEND.
New York is the auction capital of the world. So it makes sense that it’s a worldwide destination for collectors – especially during the holiday season, when the city’s best attractions transform into festive winter wonderlands.
Heritage New York
Heritage Auctions’ New York location offers auctions and appraisals for a wide range of collectibles, including Fine Art, Coins & Currency, Comics, Entertainment Memorabilia, Jewelry & Luxury Accessories, and Fine Wine. Visitors will find an array of certified coins available for immediate purchase, appropriate for both new and experienced numismatists. Window displays and exhibitions of fine art by well-known artists are also often available in the galleries.
445 Park Ave. (at 57th Street)
New York, NY 10022
“Just by walking the city streets,” says Diane D’Amato, director of luxury accessories at Heritage Auctions in New York, “you are immediately transported into the holiday spirit, with the festive decorations and holiday music filling the air.”
While connoisseurs of Tiffany, Harry Winston, Bulgari, Hermès and Chanel no doubt will relish the chance to visit their favorite boutiques, don’t forget the vintage. Streets markets such as the Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen fleas can’t be missed. Then there are the world-class museums: the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, to name a few. “New York is the center of the art world,” says Heritage Auctions President Greg Rohan. “We have the museums, galleries, lectures and exhibits for just about every collecting interest and budget.”
New York is, of course, an auction house mecca, and Heritage Auctions sits in the heart of the auction district. New Yorkers and out-of-town visitors often crowd Heritage’s “Window on Park Avenue,” an ever-changing display of vintage collectibles and fine art heading to auction. Inside the Heritage offices on Park Avenue and 57th Street, experts are available to offer auction appraisals for a wide range of collectibles, including fine art, coins, currency, comics, entertainment memorabilia, jewelry and luxury accessories, and fine wine.
“Quite simply, New York City is the center of the world,” says Taylor Curry, a modern and contemporary art specialist at Heritage in New York. “Finance, media, art, fashion and design all intertwine in this city. Combine that with New York’s rich history and historic sites and it becomes one of the most vibrant and culturally diverse cities for collectors to visit.”
Here, the experts at Heritage Auctions in New York offer their favorite places to visit, shop and eat – for today’s traveling collector.
The Intelligent Collector staff
President, Heritage Auctions
Why is New York such an important market for collectors and where does Heritage Auctions fit in?
New York is the center of the art world. We have the museums, galleries, auction houses, lectures and exhibits for just about every collecting interest and budget. And best of all, there is usually just a small charge for entry, or none at all. Heritage Auctions is located in the heart of what is referred to as the “auction district,” on Park Avenue at the corner of 57th Street. We have regular New York previews, auctions, receptions and lectures, and our 18-foot “Window on Park Avenue” is an ever-changing display of upcoming auction highlights from all our collecting categories. The window itself is a destination for both local residents and visitors staying at hotels nearby.
What is your idea of a perfect “day off” in New York?
I like to start the day with a brisk walk in Central Park, which I think is the single best place in New York. The park is so large that you can go every day for weeks and walk a different area. My personal favorite is the Great Lawn and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, so named because her apartment at 1040 Fifth Avenue overlooked it, and she was a great supporter of the park. Walking the reservoir in the morning when the sun is coming up over the city never ceases to inspire and excite me. Then it’s breakfast at the Palace restaurant, which is anything but a palace. It’s a classic, New York diner around the corner from Heritage Auctions on 57th Street. Weather permitting, I’ll stop at my favorite museums, maybe a little shopping at Bergdorf Goodman (there are separate stores across from each other on Fifth Avenue, one for men, the other for women), then dinner at my longtime favorite restaurant, La Grenouille, where the flower arrangements are almost as beautiful as the food. New York is the city that never sleeps, and I love the 11 p.m. show at Birdland Jazz Club (established in 1949) in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
New York is home to the world’s top museums, so it’s hard to pick the best when advising collectors, says Heritage Auctions President Greg Rohan. “But here are a few of my favorites.”
- The Metropolitan Museum is a destination where you can spend countless hours and still never see it all, Rohan says. “I love seeing exhibits on Friday and Saturday evenings when there is live music at the Great Hall Balcony Café and Bar. Don’t miss the museum gift shops.”
- The Jewish Museum is a gem housed in a historic Fifth Avenue mansion. “The Russ & Daughters restaurant within the museum is kosher, unique and delicious,” Rohan says.
- The New-York Historical Society overlooks Central Park at 77th Street on the West Side. “It was founded in 1804 as New York’s first museum and is a treasure chest of the most fabulous objects relating to the history of New York, its art and its artists,” Rohan says. The newly opened gallery of Tiffany Lamps is itself a work of art. “Prepare to be dazzled!”
- The Museum of Arts and Design on Columbus Circle “is a wonderful collection of both contemporary and historic crafts, art and design.” The gift shop is unique and worthy of a close look as is the exceptional, art-inspired restaurant, Robert, on the museum’s top floor.
- Neue Galerie is housed in a beautiful, impeccably restored Fifth Avenue mansion. Inside, you’ll find early 20th century German and Austrian art owned by esteemed collector and philanthropist Ronald Lauder. “Among its treasures is the Gustav Klimt masterpiece Woman in Gold, the subject of the eponymous movie starring Helen Mirren,” Rohan says. “Café Sabarsky on the first floor is the closest thing you’ll find outside of Vienna to an authentic Viennese café.”
- Museum of Modern Art is a crown jewel of New York, Rohan says. “The collection, gifts shops, outdoor seating area and both restaurants, the Modern-Bar Room and the Modern-Dining Room, are all just wonderful.”
Managing Director, Heritage Auctions, New York
What are your favorite places to find antiques and collectibles?
I am a sucker for a good flea market. As an appraiser on Antiques Roadshow for over 23 years, I am always looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, so my weekends are no exception. The Chelsea Flea Market at 25th Street off Broadway has over 135 vendors and well worth the $1 entry. The Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market under the access to the Lincoln Tunnel is fun, as well as the Brooklyn Dumbo flea, with 80-plus vendors under the Manhattan Bridge. Another man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so you’re sure to have a great day.
What’s your favorite museum?
Hands down, the Cloisters in Upper Manhattan. Pick a rainy, dreary day. This medieval re-creation, part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is your own personal Game of Thrones. On Sunday, there is often ethereal choir music. You will be transported to another time.
What’s the best place to take out-of-town guests?
Little Italy is uniquely New York. And Puglia has been serving Southern Italian food since 1919. It’s as authentic an experience as you can get. The communal tables allow you to mingle, so when Jorge the pianist plays the chicken dance, you will be swirling your napkin with the best of them and dancing on the tables.
Director, Luxury Accessories, Heritage Auctions, New York
What makes New York especially important for handbag collectors?
New York is the fashion capital of the world. Collectors travel from all over to visit the boutiques and auction houses. The assortment is unparalleled, and New York is the mecca for the fashion world, business and celebrities … where people come to see and be seen.
As a luxury accessories collector, what’s your favorite place to visit in New York?
I love visiting all of New York’s museums. The Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Natural History, to name a few. By far my favorite is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From spring to fall, there are always special exhibits on the rooftop where you can take in panoramic views of New York and enjoy your favorite cocktail. I especially look forward to the Costume Institute exhibit every spring.
What’s your favorite place to shop in the city during the holidays?
I love to shop on Madison, SoHo and Fifth Avenue. There is nothing like it anywhere in the world. The windows are treasure troves.
Vice President, Special Collections, Heritage Auctions, New York
What are your favorite New York art haunts?
I love that the international auction business is centered here, and I visit other houses regularly to view exhibitions and special events. Of course, we also have some of the best museums, galleries and shows, too. The TEFAF fair at the Armory, with its dealers, collectors, curators, interior designers and art-and-antiques enthusiasts, rivals anything the world can offer, but the auction rooms change weekly and offer a unique educational opportunity.
What do you do for Heritage Auctions?
I field calls and email inquiries every day from clients, old and new to Heritage, who want help selling, valuing or just identifying their items. And all “general” inquiries fall on my desk, too. I like to say my main area of specialty, after almost 40 years in the business, is bringing things to auction. I am also an auctioneer and responsible for the Gentleman Collector and Art Glass sales we hold regularly.
Is most of your business in New York?
I came here from England, where the trade is very different, but I’ve developed a good sense of how to do business successfully here. The “tristate area” – New York, Connecticut and New Jersey – is my main territory, but I regularly dip into Pennsylvania and make frequent trips to our regional offices and elsewhere to look at collections or even single items.
Director, American Art, Heritage Auctions, New York
What will American Art collectors find in New York?
So many artists and artist movements percolated and began in New York. The New York Harbor inspired early maritime painters. Central Park served as muse to impressionists Childe Hassam and William Merritt Chase. The Art Students League is where icons George Bellows and Thomas Hart Benton learned and taught … and, of course, the 1913 Armory Show changed American Modernism forever. Shall I go on?
As an art specialist, what’s your favorite museum?
My favorite is the Whitney Museum of American Art, down in the Meatpacking District. I love the experience of moving indoors and outdoors to view some of the greatest American art by masters … Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Alexander Calder … all the while taking it in against the always-moving backdrop of downtown New York. I literally get a high every time I visit!
So what’s a great non-museum place for art collectors?
I have three favorites: Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar for the fun sporting art. The King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel for the fantastic Maxfield Parrish mural. And the Central Park Zoo for the Paul Manship bronzes.
Director, Numismatics, Heritage Auctions, New York
What makes New York special for coin collectors?
New York has been an important city for coin collectors since colonial times. In the 1500s to 1800s, an amalgam of colonial and world coins – including the British and Spanish coins that served as temporary currency, and the coppers of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – passed through as part of everyday commerce. In the 1800s and 1900s, artists such as Augustus Saint-Gaudens and James Earle Fraser, who designed some of the best-loved U.S. coins, frequently worked and studied here. It also is the site of the impressive American Numismatic Society and its research collections.
What is the best place for coin collectors to visit?
The New York Historical Society on Central Park West is exhibiting the only 1933 Double Eagle that is legally held in private hands. This allows collectors the opportunity to see an infamous coin and one of the most valuable pieces in all of numismatics.
Is there a restaurant or hotel that’s unexpectedly “coin-collector friendly”?
Keens Steakhouse at 72 W. 36th St. is known for its longevity, having opened in 1885. What is lesser known is that the New York Numismatic Club was founded at this restaurant in 1908. Club members during its first decade included notable numismatists such as Farran Zerbe, B. Max Mehl, Augustus Heaton, Wayte Raymond, Thomas Elder, the Chapman Brothers, Virgil Brand, John Clapp, Lyman Low, William Woodin, and more. You can still eat dinner there today.
Director, Photographs, Heritage Auctions, New York
Why is New York an important city for collectors of photographs?
New York is the most important city in the world for photograph collectors. It has the most photography galleries, and the most photography auctions and major museum collections. It also hosts the Association of International Photography Art Dealers Photography Show every April. This is the second largest photography fair in the world after Paris Photo.
What’s a great place for photography collectors to visit?
I suggest seeing Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey at the Met Fifth Avenue from Jan. 30 to May 12, 2019. This exhibition is the first to feature the earliest-known photographs around the eastern Mediterranean, including Greece, Egypt, Turkey and Jerusalem.
So we have to ask … what’s the best place to take spectacular photos during the holidays?
There are so many things to see and photograph when New York is dressed up for the holidays, from the ice-skaters in Rockefeller Plaza to the Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche at the Met. For shots of the skyline, visit the top of the Empire State Building, One World Observatory or walk along Brooklyn Bridge Park or Roosevelt Island.
Director, Asian Art, Heritage Auctions, New York
What is the best place for Asian art collectors to visit?
The Metropolitan Museum of Art should be any art-lover’s first museum to visit in New York. Beyond the Met, though, Asian art collectors and admirers should seek out the Rubin Museum of Art to see exceptional Himalayan works of art. Also, check out the Japan Society and the Asia Society Museum for exhibits.
What’s your favorite non-museum activity in New York?
A trip on the Staten Island Ferry provides great views of Manhattan and the islands of Upper New York Bay. Having that distant view of the city helps one to consider it as a whole and understand how the unique geography shaped its history.
Consignment Director, Watches & Fine Timepieces, Heritage Auctions, New York
What does New York hold for timepiece collectors?
The city is the window to the world, especially when it comes to all things luxury. Many of the important authorized retailers, auction houses and pre-owned dealers all have significant footprints in New York City. These factors create an environment where, if you are looking for a specific timepiece, chances are you will find it in New York.
What are the best places for timepiece collectors to visit?
Ideally, if you are just visiting, come in the fall or spring during watch auction season. Previews are always great to attend, and they enable you to inspect timepieces you normally would be unable to see anywhere else. Additionally, I would make stops at the iconic and historic Grand Central Watch in Grand Central Station, as they always have a great selection of interesting vintage timepieces on display. Finally, check out the Horological Society of New York. It’s America’s first watchmaking guild, founded in 1866. They often have lectures or events.
Is there a place in the city that’s unexpectedly “timepiece friendly”?
I strongly recommend staying at the Peninsula Hotel. On the street level, you will find Wempe Jewelers at the immediate corner. Wempe is an authorized dealer for over 15 respected timepiece manufacturers and has a great selection. Additionally, you will be conveniently located near every timepiece brand boutique on Fifth and Madison avenues.
Consignment Director, Modern & Contemporary Art, Heritage Auctions, New York
What is the best place for modern and contemporary art collectors to visit?
The Guggenheim has great exhibitions and is housed in one of the most recognizable and iconic buildings in the world, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. After your museum excursion, walk one block and escape in Central Park or continue your trek on Museum Mile, which runs along Fifth Avenue, where you can visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York and much more.
Is there a place in the city that’s unexpectedly friendly for modern and contemporary art collectors?
The Chelsea gallery district is the place to be if you want to see some of the best exhibitions by today’s living artists. Situated within a few blocks on the West Side of Manhattan, there are numerous galleries open to the public. While there, take a walk down the High Line, the elevated parkway, and visit the Chelsea Market, which has local artist-run shops and award-winning restaurants. The building itself is a gem and was once the factory for the National Biscuit Company and the place where the Oreo cookie was invented.
New York’s Finest
FROM FINE DINING TO SPECTACULAR VIEWS, HERITAGE AUCTIONS’ SPECIALISTS REVEAL THE AMENITIES THAT MAKE THESE HOTELS THEIR FAVORITES
Peninsula New York
“Since I live in Manhattan,” Kathleen Guzman says, “I actually have never stayed in a hotel here! But if I did, it would be the Peninsula. The hotel spa and rooftop pool are an oasis of calm in bustling midtown. To be pampered there is an exquisite Asian-style experience, and afternoon tea downstairs is a delight. And the nearby luxury shops – Tiffany, Harry Winston, Bulgari – are a girl’s best friends.”
“If I had to pick one hotel, it would be my new favorite: the Public Hotel on the Lower East Side,” says Aviva Lehmann. “It has such an artsy, bohemian, yet sophisticated flair. When you walk in, you feel like you are part of a private club. The art is inspiring. It’s truly an immersive experience, not to mention the food is terrific!”
Hotel Sixty LES
“There are lots of options but one hotel that stands out is Sixty on the Lower East Side,” Taylor Curry says. “It has wonderful views of the city, a rooftop pool and it’s located in one of the most fashionable neighborhoods. Look closely and you’ll see an Andy Warhol film still painted on the pool floor and Lee Friedlander photographs that illuminate bedroom headboards.”
St. Regis New York
“I like Airbnb these days for larger groups or family travel, for economy and the opportunity to live like a New Yorker for a few days,” Nick Dawes says. “But if you insist on an old-fashioned, elegant hotel with superb bar, restaurant and service, stay at the St. Regis. If you come regularly, use the same hotel and become familiar with it. It will soon be your home away from home.”
“A standout among the warm and richly furnished old-style hotels is the Bowery Hotel in Lower Manhattan,” says Richard Cervantes. “The rich, traditional décor appeals to me as an antique specialist. Having started my career in Oriental rugs, I particularly love the Bowery’s use of Persian carpets throughout the first floor.”
“It’s hard to beat the Plaza Hotel for its combination of charm, lovely architecture and location near Central Park,” says Sarah Miller. “Many rooms have wonderful park views, and you are steps from some of the city’s best highlights.”
This story appears in the Winter 2018-2019 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition