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Turning first to the exciting fine art results, the three pivotal paintings by legendary artist LeRoy Neiman (American, 1921-2012) “stole the show,” said Rick Unruh, vice president and director of fine art at Clars. Finish at Indy, Neiman’s brightly colored 1982 painting depicting the closest finish in Indy 500 history, was expected to achieve $50,000 on the high side but collectors would compete furiously for this work driving the final sale price to an astounding $94,300. And they weren’t finished battling yet when the next lot, Neiman’s Longchamp, came on the block. Depicting jockeys atop their horses at the world famous Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, this work galloped at full tilt past its high estimate of $50,000 selling for $77,530. And finally, Neiman’s Himalayan Ascent, went solidly within estimate selling for $41,650.
Several other works by American artists also exceeded expectations. From Alaskan artist Sydney Mortimer Laurence (1865-1940), his oil on canvas Northern Lights sold for $24,990 and Southwestern artist Anna Katherine Skeele’s (1896-1963) oil on canvas Taos Chapel close to doubled its high estimate, achieving $23,800. And a rare bronze sculpture titled Horses Playing by Wilhelm Hunt Diederich (American, 1884-1953) sold for $20,230.
“California artists also fared well,” said Unruh, with Water, Sand and Patterns by August Gay (1890-1949) earning $59,500 followed by Clayton Sumner Price (1874-1950) whose Horses at Watering Hole sold for $47,600 and Eucalyptus by Maurice Braun (1877-1941) which fetched $20,230.
Several European pieces did quite well. A lovely painting titled La Jeune Maman by Spanish artist Antoni Clavé, sold for $13,090, and Italian artist Michele Cascella’s oil on canvas, Portofino, sold well above its $5,000-7,000 fetching $13,090.
Twentieth century prints added to the stellar day with a Friedensreich Hundertwasser (Austrian, 1928-2000) portfolio selling for for $26,180 followed by Roy Lichtenstein’s (American, 1923-1997) Shipboard Girl reaching $23,800.
Turning to the other outstanding sales of the day was a significant 19th century Maori people, New Zealand, architectural sculpture from inside a ceremonial house.
From the de Young Museum of San Francisco this important ethnographic offering was expected to achieve $22,000 but sold impressively for almost double at $41,650.
The exquisite jewelry offered drew collectors and the solid prices to go with them. Topping this category was an Art Deco platinum and diamond ring highlighting two old European cut diamonds, their weights approximately 2.27 carats and 2.50 carats. It was accompanied by a 14K yellow gold twisted wire ring jacket. This stunning piece surpassed its high estimate selling for $22,610.
In decorative arts, sterling and art glass held the spotlight. From renowned glass artist Dante Marioni (American b. 1964) his stunning circa 1995 work titled Yellow Pair With Red Wrap, which measured 29 inches high, easily soared to its final sale price of $13,035. A Georg Jensen Danish centerpiece topped the sterling silver offerings, commanding the same impressive price, $13,035.
And finally, Clars’ always exciting Asian offerings had its surprises as well. Topping this category was a lot of five 19th century Chinese cloisonné enameled garniture set from the Tibet House, New York, which sold for double its high estimate, earning $23,800.
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View the fully illustrated catalog of the Clars Auction Gallery sale held May 18-19, complete with prices realized, at LiveAuctioneers.com.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE