OAKLAND, Calif. – Sculpture and fine art, 20th century design and the oceanic and tribal collection of Richard I.M. Kelton of Marina Del Rey, Calif., were the star performers at Clars’ Feb. 23 auction. Realizing prices far beyond their estimates, this sale presented investment level works from private estates and museums that drew bidders from around the world. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
Collectors and aficionados of 20th century design took note of the exceptional offerings that were offered at this sale. A collection of furniture designed by Mira Nakashima and her legendary furniture-maker father, George Nakashima, was well received indeed and bidders came out to buy. Overall, the nine Nakashima lots offered achieved over $135,000 with the top seller being a George Nakashima for Widdicomb even-arm sofa executed in walnut that sold very well for $24,600 (above). A Conoid bench designed by Mira Nakashima soared to over three times its high estimate selling for $23,370 and setting a new world record (below).
Exceptional prices in 20th century design were not only reserved for the Nakashimas. An Isamu Noguchi for Herman Miller rudder coffee table flew past high estimate selling for $19,680. A Finn Juhl for Baker Chieftain chair sold for $11,685 – a new world record for a Baker example.
The stainless steel mesh and aluminum sculpture titled Norseman by Lynda Benglis (American, b. 1941), flew past all expectations. Benglis is regarded as the pioneer in free-form sculpture who radically pushed the limits on this medium in the 1960s. Today, some 60 years later, she is still creating and, according to the Aug. 16, 2019 story in the New York Times, she is “more prolific than ever.”
The demand for her abstract works was evident on Feb. 23 when Norseman was presented with an estimate of $40,000–$60,000 but soared quickly to an amazing $184,500, securing the third-highest price ever achieved for this artist at auction. In a statement by Rick Unruh, CEO and director of fine art for Clars, he commented, “Yes, the Lynda Benglis sculpture was certainly a very pleasant surprise with numerous bidders in the U.S. and Europe competing heavily for this work.” (Provenance note: Norseman by Lynda Benglis came to this auction from a prominent Nob Hill, San Francisco Estate that Clars is honored to represent. More exceptional property from this estate including fine art, furniture and Asian art and antiques, will be featured in their upcoming monthly auctions into the summer.)
Among the other solid performers in the fine art offerings was a wonderful acrylic on canvas by James Weeks (American, 1922-1998) titled Spring Morning which sold for $14,760.
The 1970 oil on canvas by Margaret Keane (American, b. 1927) titled Stranded, sold for nicely over estimate earning $14,760. This was followed by a woodblock print in colors by Gustave Baumann (American/German, 1881-1971) titled Corn Dance, Santa Clara that was expected to sell for $7,000 but surpassed that nicely going for $12,300.
A collection of assorted landscape and seascape paintings by Karl Schmidt (American, 1890-1962), sold to benefit the Oakland Museum of California, had a 100 percent sell-through bringing well over $30,000 on the day.
And finally, a rare, glazed ceramic plate by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) titled Bright Dove, sold for an impressive $16,640 making it the third-highest record price for this particular Madoura edition by the artist from 1953.
Turning to the Oceanic and Tribal Collection of Richard I.M. Kelton, collectors of this genre come out in force as well. Overall, the second installment of this collection earned over $70,000 with the top seller, and a definite pleasant surprise, being a South Coast Papua New Guinea shoulder shield flying well over high estimate among competitive bidding. Expected to achieve $6,000–$8,000, the shoulder shield sold for almost four times the high estimate for $30,750.
Rounding out the highlights in this category was a Reed and Barton flatware service in the Love Disarmed pattern (109 pieces) that sold for $14,760. A Tiffany Studios New York damascene and patinated bronze floor lamp also performed well selling for $7,380.
The February jewelry sale at Clars Auction Gallery was a huge success with 84% of lots being sold. The top seller was a ruby, diamond and 18K white gold necklace that achieved $18,450.
Another highlight was the whimsical Cartier agate, diamond, sapphire, coral and 18K yellow gold crowned duck brooch. There was active bidding on the phones, in the room and on-line. The brooch finally sold for $12,300 to a phone bidder, surpassing its estimate of $6,000-$9,000.
Asian Art and Antiques had its share of surprises at well at this sale. A Chinese Nephrite Jade lidded vase was offered for $2,000–$3,000 but more than tripled its estimate earning $9,225.
Also flying to over seven times its estimate was a lot of two Chinese ceramic wares, one a Ge-style lobbed bowl, the other a cong vase. Expected to sell for $500, this set achieved $6,150.
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