Confused about the most expensive hanging mobile ever sold

I received an email the other day asking if I could make a reproduction of Calder’s “Snow Flurry”, which I wouldn’t be allowed to do because all of his works are copyrighted. But it made me take a closer look at the mobile and I came across something that was rather confusing.

The “Snow Flurry” by Alexander Calder is the most expensive hanging mobile ever sold to date (only surpassed by “Lily of Force” which is a stabile by Calder). It realized a hammer price of US$10,386,500 at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale at the Rockefeller Plaza, New York, on on May 8th 2012. Here’s a photo from the auction:

Large hanging mobile by Calder for sale

But here’s what confuses me about this. The following is the photo of “Snow Flurry” that Christie’s posted on their site. Count the elements on the mobile.

Large hanging mobile by Calder for sale - Christie's

21 elements.
Now, following is the photo of “Snow Flurry” that the Calder Foundation has on their site. Count the elements on that mobile, too.

Large hanging mobile by Calder for sale - Foundation

30 elements.
9 elements more. What’s going on here?

First I wondered if part (9 elements) of the “Snow Flurry” that the Calder Foundation has displayed maybe fell off, got lost, or destroyed somehow, but then I noticed that besides the number of elements on each, if you pay close attention to the structure of each mobile you’ll realize, these are clearly two different mobiles.

Maybe Calder made more than one hanging mobile with the same name. I would be surprised about that, and I would be surprised that both places seemingly present their mobile as the “Snow Flurry”, without mentioning the other one, no small detail considering the auction price.

The mobile sold came from Eliot Noyes‘ estate who was a friend of Calder’s.

I’ll post an update if I find out more.

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Here’s a beautiful video of “Snow Flurry” (the one that Christie’s had on display and sold):

© 2014 Marco Mahler