1920s Arman T. Manookian Watercolor

Value (2006) | $5,000 Retail

GUEST:
A coworker of my husband was cleaning out her home about 20 years ago and said, "Would you like this box? You can have it for $20." And there was a number of other items in the box--

APPRAISER:
Really?

GUEST:
--and this was one of them.

APPRAISER:
This is not the smallest piece I've appraised on the ROADSHOW. But did you bring it in your back pocket?

GUEST:
Just about.

APPRAISER:
Did you have it reframed?

GUEST:
When we received it, it was cut this way already with this sort of cardboard matting.

APPRAISER:
It looks like a modern, acid-free matte, which is what you want for something like this. Do you know what the subject is?

GUEST:
Well, it looks like a Hawaiian king, because those are the capes they wore.

APPRAISER:
And the artist?

GUEST:
His name is Manookian. And I know that he was from Armenia,

APPRAISER:
Uh-huh.

GUEST:
that he lived in Hawaii in the '20s, and that he committed suicide in about 1931, I think, when he was about 30.

APPRAISER:
That's absolutely right-- this fellow's name is Arman Tateos Manookian. You can see it's signed down here. And he was an Armenian artist. He was born in Armenia in 1904 and survived the Armenian genocide of 1915 and then moved to France and eventually to the United States. He joined the military, and ended up here in Hawaii. He was known for doing illustrations and also murals. And, um, this may have been a study for a larger mural. Here we have a king, possibly Kamehameha. It looks much like his statue out in front of the palace out there. Very bright colors.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
Very much a modernist sort of look, which is very popular these days. This is watercolor and gouache, which is a type of watercolor on paper. Have you had it appraised at all?

GUEST:
No.

APPRAISER:
Well, there are no real auction records for this artist. There are very few things out in private hands. One of the things about value is limiting factors-- something that's rare, something that's in good condition, something that's not seen that often. So all these limiting factors make these things more valuable. And this thing is sort of the perfect storm of limiting factors. First of all, you have the fact that he's an illustrator and muralist. So there aren't as many freestanding easel paintings or works such as that. And also, the studies often disappear. He was only here for six years before he committed suicide at the age of 27--

GUEST:
Oh, 27.

APPRAISER:
--so there's not a big body of work for him. I consulted with a colleague who's from Hawaii, and he said this is a very important work. And probably in a gallery today, you would expect to pay about $5,000 for something like this.

GUEST:
No way.

APPRAISER:
Yeah.

GUEST:
Oh, my gosh.

APPRAISER:
Yeah. It's a good piece of Hawaiian history, and a good piece of Hawaiian art, as well.

GUEST:
Oh. I'm very surprised. Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Bonhams, NY
New York, NY
Appraised value (2006)
$5,000 Retail
Event
Honolulu, HI (August 26, 2006)
Period
Modernism
Material
Gouache, Paper, Watercolor

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