LOS ANGELES — John Moran Auctioneers‘ June 6 Art of the American West sale brought phenomenal results, specifically in the fine art category. The star of the show was the Native American artist Oscar Howe, who is best known for his innovative and expressive depictions of traditional Dakota culture and mythology. He had two works in the sale. Each earned six-digit bids, but one achieved a new world action record for the artist at $325,000. Other standouts included a Navajo Late Classic child’s blanket, a sculpture by Allan House, Native American pottery and Hopi and Pueblo jewelry. Absentee and Internet live bidding was facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.
The two works from Oscar Howe posted a combined total of $550,000 and together drew 10 phone bidders, including private collectors, museums and other institutions from California, New Mexico, Arizona, South Dakota, New York and Florida. Each of these works, sold on behalf of a private Los Angeles area estate, had auction estimates of $12,000-$18,000 but sold well into the six figures.
Crushing his previous auction record of $58,000, achieved back in 2020, was Howe’s Camte Waste, No No Wa (Good Heart Forever). Two phone bidders fought until the victor pledged $325,000 for the work — making it the new world auction record for the artist. The second Howe, a 1966 piece titled Koda, Nape Ciuza (Friend, I Shake Your Hand), brought in a whopping $225,000.
Another fine art highlight was Grafton Tyler Brown’s 1886 oil on canvas Grand Canyon From Lookout Point, Yellowstone National Park. The late 19th-century American landscape realized $25,000, performing within its original estimate of $20,000-$30,000.
After the Howe works, the next top lot was a Navajo Late Classic child’s blanket that attained $31,250. It had an estimate of $5,000-$7,000 and was woven in the 1870s with cochineal red, cream, and black wool displaying three bands of crosses divided by horizontal ticking.
Mother And Child, a 1989 piece by Allan House, represented the selection of sculpture in the sale. This abstract figurative bronze is an elegant representation of this relationship that changes with the viewing direction. The bronze work went for $10,625, surpassing its $6,000-$8,000 estimate.
Collectors turned out for the impressive variety of Native American pottery, resulting in some exceptionally strong results. Leading the category was a micaceous ceramic pot by Christine Nofchissey McHorse, which went for $5,313. Lot 1125, a three-inch-high sgraffito redware jar by Tony Da, sold for $4,063, and lot 1180, a black on white olla by Marie Z. Chino, had a winning bid of $3,125.
No American West auction would be complete without an array of unique jewelry, and a Hopi gold stone inlay ring proved to be a favorite. The Charles Loloma piece had an estimate of $2,000-$3,000 and after multiple bids, ended at $8,125. In addition, a Pueblo turquoise and shell necklace performed well, bringing in $3,438 against a $200-$400 estimate.
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