OAKLAND, Calif. – Important American art commanded dramatic prices at Clars’ Nov. 19 auction of Fine Art, Decorative Art, Furniture, Jewelry/Timepieces and Asian Art. This sale reported strong results across all categories with a number of surprises fueled by highly competitive national and international bidding. Absentee and Internet bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
La Migra, 1995, the major installation work by Barry McGee (American, b. 1966) in collaboration with Sandow Birk (American, b. 1962), came to the sale with the conservative estimate of $40,000-$60,000. The bidding opened at $20,000 and this lot jumped rapidly by large increments finally closing and selling for $193,000.
Performing with the same vigorous bidding was the spectacular work in charcoal by Norman Rockwell (American, 1894-1978) titled Samson, a study of Victor Mature in the role from the 1949 movie Samson and Delilah. Offered with an estimate of $50,000-$70,000, this work climbed to a final selling price of $139,150.
Numerous other works offered flew past their high estimates. The beautifully executed harbor scene by Jane Peterson (American, 1876-1965) titled Fishing Boats, Honfleur, sold for well over high estimate at $22,990, as did the oil on canvas by Indian artist Ram Kumar (b. 1924), Untitled (Moving Landscape), 2004, which realized $21,780.
Nearly tripling high estimate was the oil on panel attributed to Paul Bril (Flemish, 1554-1626) titled Landscape with Peasants and Livestock. Offered with an estimate of $4,000-$6,000, this work sold for $16,940.
Completing the successful fine art offerings was Table 25 a la Cafetiere, Fleurs, Tasse et Citron Jaune, an oil on canvas from 1917 by Jean Metzinger (French, 1883-1956), which commanded $36,300.
Blue Dog Wearing a Tie, an acrylic on canvas by George Rodrigue (American, 1944-2013) also sold well within estimate for $16,940.
Surprises occurred in the Decorative Arts & Furnishings category, which featured several special collections. Continental Gothic limestone architectural fragments depicting biblical scenes and patrons were expected to sell for $1,500-$2,500 but spirited bidding on this lot drove the price to $10,890.
Railroadiana collectors vied heatedly for a Negus New York S.S. Dixie ship’s clock with a brass plaque reading “Morgan’s Louisiana & Texas Railroad & Steamship Co.” Coming to the sale from the estate of Alan Furth, vice chairman of Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corp., president of Southern Pacific Co., and the first chairman of Sprint, this clock was estimated to sell for $400-$600 but achieved an impressive $7,260.
Fine Mid-Century Modern and studio furniture pieces performed well. Topping these offerings was a Jack Rogers Hopkins sculpted low table, that sold for $11,495. A Gabriella Crespi “Sculpture” table, executed in brushed stainless steel, circa 1970 sold well for $10,285.
An exquisite Art Deco Tiffany & Co. diamond, synthetic sapphire, platinum and 14k yellow gold bracelet sold for $25,410.
The Asian offerings had surprises as well. Expected to sell for $1,500, a Mongolian Buddhist sutra manuscript, the interior of the covers painted with bodhisattvas and the interior with printed pages in Mongolian script soared to an amazing $9,075.