OAKLAND, Calif. – Clars Auction Gallery’s monthly fine art, jewelry and decorative art auction on July 12-14 resulted in the largest July auction in the firm’s history, realizing just over $1 million. The success of the sale was fueled by both exceptional estate property and Clars’ global marketing.
LiveAuctioneers.com facilitated Internet live bidding.
The excitement began on Saturday when two Aboriginal shields from northern Australia came up for sale. The shields came to auction as part of the ethnographic collection from a prominent San Francisco estate. They were both made of fig tree wood, had carved handles and carved bosses to the front. They measured 34 1/2 inches high by 14 1/2 inches wide. Prior to the sale, because of the difficulty of putting an age on the shields, they were conservatively projected to likely be post-World War II by Clars and another major auction house. Based on this assumption, they were both assigned presale estimates of $400 to $600.
The bidding opened on the first shield at $400 but quickly became a heated phone battle between two Australian collectors, skyrocketing the final sale price to $23,000. It was a repeat performance for the second shield, which also earned the same amount. Both shields were bought by the same Australian collector. After the sale, Deric Torres, vice president and director of Furniture and Decorative Art for Clars Auction Gallery, commented that, after further evaluation, these shields were likely 19th century.
Australian fine art and decorative art have made for several exciting sales at Clars. In February Possum Dreaming by contemporary aboriginal artist Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (1932-2002) achieved the highest price ever for this artist in the United States selling for $131,000.
The decorative arts and furniture category continued to have exceptional results throughout the next two days. Almost tying the world record price for its form, a Murano glass “Pulcini” bird by Alessandro Pianon for Vistosi, circa 1963, sold for $4,000, solidly surpassing its high estimate of $2,500. Also surpassing high estimate was a pair of Meissen covered urns, which garnered an impressive $9,000. Selling for solidly within estimate were a pair of Napoleon III boulle-style commodes, which earned $7,500, and a pair of Empire ormolu and patinated bronze ewers fetched $10,000. Rounding out this category, a slick 2012 Nissan 370 Z touring coupe sped off for $22,500.
Two new world auction records were set during this sale. The first, an oil on board painting by Douglas Hofmann (American, b. 1945), titled Madam Derriere, soared past its high estimate of $2,000 achieving the new record price for the artist of $11,900. The second was a colorful, majestic oil on canvas by Tarmo Pasto (American, 1906-1986). Titled California Foothills, this work sold for $2,300, more than doubling the artist’s previous record of $1,080.
Another high achiever was the large and dramatic bronze sculpture by Bob Grieves (b. 1986) titled Shanandoah Farewell, which amazed the crowd when it achieved $15,470, well above its $8,000-$12,000 estimate. Works by Peter Max continued to be strong with a vibrant acrylic on canvas titled Better World landing well past its $4,000-$6,000 estimate selling for $11,900.
Once again, it was a spectacular jewelry offering that took top lot of the sale. A fancy light brownish pink unmounted diamond weighing 1.51 carats sold for $24,000. A Rolex Submariner stainless steel wristwatch, circa 1971, and retailed by Tiffany stunned the crowd earning well over twice its high estimate selling for $15,500.
Typical for Clars, the Asian art section had a high sell through rate and was a well-rounded sale with items from various categories performing well. The category had a great start with the first lot, a painting in the manner of Fu Baoshi (Chinese, 1904-1965), Scholars Playing Chess, experiencing competitive bidding bringing the final price to eight times its high estimate selling for $9,250. In the jades offered, a celadon nephrite carving intricately sculpted with a cricket perched on a bitter melon achieved $5,300. The Himalayan offerings performed above their estimates including one thangka of Penden Lhamo, which sold for $3,300.
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ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE