Weathervanes have been getting a lot of attention at auctions in the folk art category for the past several years. In January 2006 a figure of Liberty was sold in New York at Christie’s for a then record $1.08 million. In August 2006 a train weathervane went for 1.2 million at Northeast Auctions based in New Hampshire. Sounds like a chunk of change right? Well, not so fast.
Josephine and Walter Buhl Ford have been known for their very large collection of folk art and furniture. Josephine has been renowned for many generations for her collection. She was the third generation of her family to live with folk art. Automobile mogul, Henry Ford, Josephine’s grandfather, was one of the first weathervane collectors and was great at the bargaining table, generally getting them for a very inexpensive price. Edsel Ford, Josephine’s father was another avid collector.
Josephine had a home located in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. On the roof of her home sat a magnificent 5’2″ weathervane. This rare and elegant figure had a fringe skirt and a feather headdress. This was a monumentally tall, flaking copper weathervane of an Indian chief hoisting a bow. It was estimated that it may bring up to $150,000.00. This piece was auctioned on October 6, 2006 at Sotheby’s in New York for a whopping $5.84 million dollars. The buyer was Jerry Lauren, executive vice president of mens designs at Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation. This weathervane still holds the record for the most expensive one ever sold.