Thursday, September 16, 2021

Major estate sale & auction set of items collected by late Josie Beckos & Charley Wood

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

The contents of the Queensbury home of Josie Beckos Wood, “the late Mrs. Charles R. Wood,” will be sold in an estate sale and auction later this month.

Josie Beckos Wood and Charles R. Wood — This picture “captures their essence,” says estate auctioneer Mark Lawson.

“So many rare and desirable items we will be selling,” says Mark Lawson, who will administer both events. “It’s a world class collection.” He told The Chronicle, “I have never done this volume of this high quality objects in one sale. It’s just amazing.”

The three-day estate sale at Mrs. Wood’s home will run Friday to Sunday, July 23-25. It’s open to the public, subject only to capacity limits due to Covid. Sale hours will be Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The address will be disclosed closer to the date of the sale, Mr. Lawson said.

A live, online auction of jewelry, furnishings, art and other finer items from Mrs. Wood’s home — many also on display during the estate sale — will take place Saturday, July 31, beginning at noon.

Faberge Egg — decorated with a “Cinderella” carriage not unlike the one at Story-town/Great Escape. Photos provided

Catalogued pictures and links for both events are shown under “current sales” at

Mrs. Wood, who passed away in December 2020 at age 97, was a philanthropist who operated the Montcalm and other area restaurants with her late first husband, Gus. Mr. Wood’s first wife Margaret had also passed away.

Mr. Wood, who died in 2004, was perhaps the region’s foremost philanthropist. He founded Storytown, now The Great Escape; numerous other ventures; and co-founded with the late actor Paul Newman the Double-H Hole in the Woods Ranch in Lake Luzerne for critically ill children.

“I knew Charley Wood but only anecdotally,” says Mr. Lawson. “I didn’t really understand him, or know Mrs. Wood in the way I’m coming to know them, the exceptional people they were, through this collection. It’s a lot of fun, it’s delightful. It’s been very gratifying.”

“The surprises haven’t stopped,” he says. “Every time I open a door or start pulling things out as we are cataloging the contents. It’s a great adventure.”

10.7 carat solitaire diamond ring. Photos provided

“In particular, the collection of jewelry very much impressed me. There’s a 10.7 carat solitaire diamond ring, an important piece of jewelry.” He estimated there are between 200 and 300 “lots” of jewelry.

“It’s highly, very rare that a collection of such important jewelry from a single place or collector comes on the market at the same time,” said Mr. Lawson.

He said the home’s contents are worth beyond “hundreds of thousands” of dollars.

“People should at least come and take a look, for the quality and nature of the items,” he says. “If you are at all interested in who Mr. and Mrs. Wood were, it’s a great opportunity to get another window into the wonderful way they lived and carried themselves through life.”

Mr. Lawson says, “I’ve never seen — it’s almost a historic collection of the finest designer jewelry of the 1960s and 70s. Tiffany pieces, pieces by Jean Schlumberger, who was one of three named designers exclusively for Tiffany’s — 20 to 30 pieces by him, several of which are significant.”

Harry Winston jewelry — Turquoise, diamond and platinum necklace by theOscars’ jeweler, famed for the diamonds Richard Burton bought for Elizabeth Taylor.

Also, pieces by Perry Winston — the “Winston” whose diamonds Richard Burton bought for Elizabeth Taylor, he said.

Furnishings include what Mr. Lawson says are “significant artworks” by Spanish artist Joan Miro, Marc Chagall and Robert Rauschenberg; a “magnificent” tabletop kinetic sculpture by George Rickey whose famed “steel needles” sculpture adorns the Empire State Plaza in Albany; a “wonderful” mirror by Salvador Dali; a “beautiful” pair of Baccarat crystal candelabra; and “very nice pieces of Steuben glass.”

Mr. Lawson also cites two “very rare” and prized $10 “Lake George” bills from the early 20th century, when regional federal banks printed their own currency, called National Currency. Each is worth $1,000 to $1,500, he said.

Rare Lake George National Currency $10 bill — “Like new,” from early 19th century, said to be worth more than 100 times the face value.

“There is a crimson red sheared mink coat with black fox trim,” Mr. Lawson describes. “You know the show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? The period costumes in that? It would look right at home on her, walking down the grand stairway of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami.”

Crimson red sheared mink coat with black fox trim — Worthy of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Mark Lawson says. Photos provided

He said that’s just one amongst a closet full of unique mink and other fur coats.

Mr. Lawson says, “Mr. Wood had a great eye, and a sense of fun. In the same way he wanted people to have a fun time and be entertained at Storytown or Great Escape, he looked for objects that were engaging in that same way.

“They have an extra dimension that draws you in, makes you laugh, grin, something a little special. The collection captures who they were, and also, a kind of way of life in an era that they exemplified.”

Mr. Lawson says, “My impression is that some of the items were gifts, but much of the collection was a collaboration with Mrs. Wood.”

Jeweled piece by Judith Leiber — Hungarian American fashion designer.

His expectation for proceeds of the sales? “I haven’t sat down and added things up, but it will be very good, at least in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. More than a few items have potential to sell over $100,000. We are already getting serious inquiries from around the country,” said Mr. Lawson. He said he expects interest from international collectors as well.

Mr. Lawson notes that sale proceeds from a collection of items related to Paul Newman and to the Double H Ranch will benefit the camp that the actor and Mr. Wood founded.

Marc Chagall, “Le Couple au Crepuscle” (Couple at Twilight) Photos provided

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