ALAMEDA, Calif. – A survey of summer 2021 at Michaan’s Auctions shows sustained growth across all categories. “Our longtime customers have proven their loyalty month after month,” said president Allen Michaan, noting that this holds for seasoned consignors and bidders alike. At the same time, more and more new buyers and sellers are recognizing that “the auction business blends discovery and sustainability, which makes it the perfect marketplace for the times we live in,” as Michaan puts it.
In Michaan’s Auction Gallery, June saw two events including the Summer Fine Sale, which hammered more than $710,000, including $362,375 in sales of fine art. Paul Henry’s Lakeside Cottages drew international attention, selling for $230,850, the highest price paid for the artist’s work outside Europe. Henry’s painting last sold in the 1930s and had been tucked away in a San Francisco Bay Area attic since the 1960s. It was the talk of the Dublin art community for weeks before.
Another star performer was the Roy Lichtenstein screenprint Red Barn, a 1969 print in pristine condition that realized $30,000.
A world auction record was achieved with the June sale of the etching Cat’s Cradle by Charles White, who dedicated his four-decade career to creating what he described as “images of dignity” of African Americans. Works by Charles White come to auction rarely, and the price realized, $15,600, was an auction record for this 1972 print.
Fine jewelry was exceptional in Michaan’s summer 2021 auctions. Diamonds in particular were hotly pursued, sometimes exceeding even the expectations of Elise Coronado, Michaan’s seasoned Jewelry Specialist and GIA Gemologist. A highlight of the Summer Fine Sale was the impeccable diamond and platinum wedding set that achieved $26,400. Coronado notes that the emerald-cut diamond at the center of this set was more than four carats, with an exceptional clarity grade.
“Emerald-cut has risen in popularity to the second most desirable diamond cut in the market,” she said, “behind only the modern round brilliant-cut.” Big, beautiful diamond rings were unstoppable at Michaan’s in summer 2021, as were diamond bracelets, period diamond brooches, and necklaces such as the La Triomphe diamond and 18K gold Riviera necklace from the June 17 auction, which rose to $7,200.
One of the summer’s most exciting auction sales was the $18,000 price realized for an imperial topaz, emerald, and 18K gold ring in Michaan’s July Gallery Auction. “A beautiful example of jewelry design by Louis Comfort Tiffany for Tiffany & Co., the ring is quite rare,” said Coronado. “Numerous Tiffany collectors from all over the country were bidding, which drove the price to triple its original estimate.”
Sales of furniture and decorative arts were strong this summer at Michaan’s, with Modernist design leading the categories. At the June Summer Fine sale, an Eames Storage Unit – the great classic by Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller – brought $9,600.
A Modernist sterling tea service by Alphonse La Paglia for International Silver sold for $5,100 in the same June auction. Creator of exquisite silver hollowware and jewelry, La Paglia studied silversmithing with Georg Jensen. His work is highly sought by collectors, and intact tea services such as this are seldom found.
An Art Nouveau lead glass lamp shade with base, Lot 72 in Michaan’s August Gallery Auction, was attributed to the Gorham Mfg. Co., which ignited interest among collectors of Arts & Crafts lighting and drove the sale price to $7,200.
The Chinese art market “is blooming again, and on the rise,” said Michaan’s Asian Art Specialist, Annie Zeng. “In spite of the pandemic and its restrictions, increased interest and purchasing power from mainland China led to significant auction results.” Zeng can point to many excellent summer 2021 sales to prove it. The Summer Fine Sale in June did $128,350 in Asian Art business, with 31 of 37 lots sold.
A highlight was the pair of iron-red, grisaille-decorated Yongzheng Period bowls, which sold for $19,200. “This rare porcelain work, of superb and subtle design, sold at Michaan’s for more than double its previous sale price at Christie’s,” noted Zeng, adding that “collectors are now seeing good returns on their investments.” Lot 5162 in the same auction, the blue and white yuhuchun vase on gilt bronze base, with Qianlong mark, brought $30,000.
Michaan’s July and August auctions saw continued successes in the Asian Art category. One lot that greatly exceeded original estimates was the Sino-Tibetan gilt bronze statue of Tara on a lotus throne, Lot 508 in the July Gallery Auction, which sold for $4,800. “Good Buddhist statues are widely admired and in high market demand,” Annie Zeng observed. As with so many of Michaan’s auction highlights, the statue of Tara came from a fine San Francisco Bay Area estate.
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