MONROVIA, Calif. – John Moran Auctioneers hosted two curated auction sessions on Nov. 14. The first event, the Art of the American West auction consisted of 143 lots of Western-genre and other California paintings and bronzes alongside Native American baskets, pottery and weavings. The second session, titled “20th Century and Contemporary Art + Design,” featured 293 lots of early and mid-20th-century furniture and decorative objects and modern and contemporary sculpture, paintings and prints. Absentee bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
John Moran’s Art of the American West catalog featured a number of important Navajo weavings, including a second phase Navajo chief’s blanket dating to the second half of the 19th century. Featuring elements dyed with cochineal and indigo dyes, the blanket brought $48,000 (prices realized include Moran’s 20 percent buyer’s premium) (estimate: $50,000 to $70,000). A late 19th/early 20th-century Navajo area rug featuring a simple cross design was a surprise dark horse highlight, realizing $4,200 (estimate: $300 to $500). A large Germantown Moki-style weaving (above) dating to the turn of the 20th century brought a respectable $8,400, likely due to its nearly pristine condition (estimate: $7,000 to $9,000).
A rare Cahuilla Mission snake-motif basket (below), which was assigned a $2,000 to $3,000 estimate, brought over the high estimate, earning $3,900 thanks to interest from absentee, online and telephone bidders.
Western-genre paintings proved popular with collectors – an oil painting depicting a young Indian girl with a pot by well-known Taos, New Mexico artist Joseph Henry Sharp found traction among floor and online bidders, earning an exceptional $7,200 (estimate: $3,000 to $5,000).
Contemporary artist Bill Worrell (b. 1936 Texas) was also represented in the Art of the American West catalog by a stunning large-scale work titled The Healer. The abstract bronze was assigned a $1,500 to $2,000 estimate, and garnered considerable interest prior to the sale. Thanks to online and telephone bid competition, The Healer realized $10,200.
Moran’s 20th Century and Contemporary Art + Design Auction spanned the early 20th century through to the contemporary, including Arts & Crafts furniture and objects, mid-century modern design and contemporary works of art.
Arts & Crafts furniture, copper and early 20th century art glass by makers such as Steuben and Tiffany performed well throughout the evening – with some pieces seeing exceptional prices realized as the collectors were apparently out in force. A Tiffany Studios “Fern” pattern adjustable table mirror was offered with a $10,000 to $20,000 auction estimate, which was quickly outstripped after a protracted bidding war between an online and a telephone buyer. It sold for $21,600.
Additional rarities by Tiffany Studios included a “Grapevine” gum spirit box which garnered a large volume of interest prior to the auction, selling for an exceptional $3,000 all-in (estimate: $500 to $800); and a “Grapevine” lap desk, which brought $8,400 thanks to considerable absentee bidding from online buyers (estimate: $1,000 to $1,500).
Mid-century modern furniture by top-name makers also proved popular at the auction; pieces by designers Charles and Ray Eames were in particularly high demand, including a rare shelving unit dating to the 1950s consigned from a private Southern California collection. The storage cabinet was a hit online and on the auction floor, and flew to a $12,000 price realized within a mere matter of moments (estimate: $2,000 to $4,000).
Shortly thereafter, two Eames for Herman Miller lounge chairs and ottomans were offered with $1,500-$2,500 estimates, each exceeding their estimate after floor bidders jumped into the fray (prices realized: $2,700 and $3,300). A pair of sturdy “office cane chairs” designed by Pierre Jeanneret for his cousin Le Courbusier’s municipal buildings in Chandigarh, India were brought to the block among a flurry of interest, and brought the high estimate of $6,000.
Modern and contemporary works of art included one of the most highly anticipated works of the evening: Peter Max’s Neo Man, a brightly colored acrylic abstract portrait of a man wearing sunglasses. The painting opened with bids online, but telephone buyers ultimately brought the work to its final selling price of $11,400 (estimate: $8,000 to $12,000).
Moran’s specialists were also excited to offer a 1965 Porsche 365C coupe in champagne yellow. Hailing from the Pasadena, Calif., estate of Anthony Gotto, the classic vehicle was in excellent condition considering its use as a daily driver into the early 1970s. The car was thoroughly reviewed by interested bidders prior to Tuesday’s auction, and earned a strong $66,000 price tag after bidding got on a roll (estimate: $40,000 to $60,000).