Visual Arts

HorseMania 2010 auction brings $376,400

Pegasus Flight garnered the highest price of the night at the Horse Mania 2010 auction at Keeneland on Friday.
Pegasus Flight garnered the highest price of the night at the Horse Mania 2010 auction at Keeneland on Friday.

It was a buyer's market Friday night at the Horse Mania 2010 auction at Keeneland.

The bar for the sale was set fairly high in 2000, when a trio of horses went for around $50,000 and numerous horses sold for more than $10,000.

In comparison, bidding was fairly modest Friday as most horses stayed around $5,000 and several went unsold.

"It's the economy," said Horse Mania co-chair Steve Grossman, also co-chairman of the original Horse Mania. "That was our concern from the beginning."

The fiberglass horses were decorated by area artists and displayed on the streets of Lexington during the summer and the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

The auction raised $376,400 benefiting LexArts Public Art Fund and 84 other charities. The average sale price for a horse was $5,791.

That was a good thing for some people holding bidding paddles.

"I got a great piece of art for a great price," said Susie Bell of Midway, who bought Pegasus Flight, which was displayed at Blue Grass Airport, for $12,000. Though that was the top seller, Bell said, "I expected to have to pay a lot more for it."

Bell also bought Star Dust Memories by Lexington Artist Bob Morgan for $3,700 because, "Bob is a friend of mine, and he was being underappreciated."

Bell got to meet Pegasus artist Erika Strecker, who crafted the piece with Tony Higdon. Bell told Strecker she planned to display the sculpture at her home in Midway that she shares with her husband, who is a pilot.

"It's perfect," Strecker said of her creation's new home. Pegasus' proceeds benefited the Bluegrass Conservancy and KEEP, as well as the LexArts public art fund.

Adam Bowden, owner of Diamond Creek Farms, also had a good night: He took home two horses, including Lady Godiva's Horse for $5,500.

"I thought it would bring a lot more," Bowden said.

Bowden also bought Kentucky in Black and White, for $6,000. He said he was bidding primarily based on the looks of the horses, though some bidders were also supporting specific charities or sponsors.

Dr. Andy Henderson, chief executive officer of Lexington Clinic, was the first winning bidder to break into five figures when he won Cheval D' Etoile for $10,500.

"We loved having him in front of our offices this summer, and we wanted him back," Henderson said. He added that the horse will be displayed in front of the clinic's South Broadway offices during warm months and inside during the winter.

Down Harrodsburg Road, Horse Mania fans will get to see Bourbon Barrel Horse in front of Ramsey's Restaurant.

"We sell a lot of bourbon," Ramsey's owner Robert Ramsey said, indicating that paying $11,000 for the 25th hip in the 82-horse auction meant he was done bidding for the night.

Out of the field, 17 horses did not sell. LexArts officials said they had not determined how those horses would be sold.

While there were no eye-popping totals like those reached in 2000, organizers said they were very happy with the event.

"This is a great way Keeneland interacts with the community," said Keeneland president and chief executive officer Nick Nicholson.

Jim Clark, president and CEO of LexArts, was not with the organization for the 2000 auction. He said he was impressed with the party atmosphere and that it was raising money for his and other organizations.

"Most of these people are never here for the horse auctions," he said. "So it's a great chance to be in this pavilion and see what it's like."

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader