Historic cloisonné vase, diamond ring huge finds in Clars sale Feb. 17

This rare 34.28-carat fancy light yellow diamond and platinum ring from the historic Spenger Collection has an estimate of $400,000-$600,000. Clars Auction Gallery image

OAKLAND, Calif. – On Sunday, Feb. 17, the world will be watching as Clars will host what is anticipated to be the most extraordinary sale in the company’s history. Both history and mystery have unfolded as the contents of the famous Spenger Collection of Berkeley, California, has been researched and revealed. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

Headlining this sale will be the rare 34.28-carat fancy light yellow old mine cut diamond and platinum ring, VS2 (GIA). Frank Spenger acquired the ring (above) in 1950. Its provenance, which has been researched by experts in the field for decades, reveals that this diamond ring likely dates back to Hawaiian King Kalakaua, who purchased it for Queen Kapiolani to wear to Queen Victoria’s jubilee celebration in England in 1887. In late 1890, King Kalakaua traveled to San Francisco to gamble, taking out a loan from Crocker Bank on the ring. He died due to complications of Bright’s disease on this trip and the ring remained at Crocker Bank until it was sold to a Texas gem dealer at the turn of the century. In 1950, it was sold privately to Frank Spenger and has remained in the Spenger Collection since that time, spending many years on display in a special case at Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto in the Diamond Bar. While its provenance is still somewhat mysterious, the fact remains that it is one of only a handful of diamonds in the world of this size and quality. It is conservatively estimated to sell for $400,000- $600,000. Bidding Note: Bidding on this piece is available in person or by phone only and requires preapproval. Preview of this ring is available by appointment only. A video and report are also available upon request.

Another extraordinary relic of Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto is the monumental Japanese cloisonne vase from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Since the day that Deric Torrres, vice president of Clars Auction Gallery, discovered and determined that the vase, which reigned for over 100 years as the centerpiece in the main dining room of the landmark restaurant, was created by Japanese artists to exhibit at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and Columbian Exposition, this news and revelation has taken the world by storm. Believed missing for over a century, its discovery has made headlines around the world.

The front of this 8-foot-tall Japanese cloisonné vase is adorned with a dragon among clouds. Clars Auction Gallery image

Torres commented, “I recall dining in the restaurant on numerous occasions over several years and was always struck by the monumental vase in the dining room. It is so exciting to now be able to uncover the amazing history of this vase and to discover its significance in both history and art.”

This magnificent vase was created as part of a triptych composed of two vases that each stood over 8 feet high centered by a censer, mounted on beautifully carved bases made of keyaki wood to celebrate Japan’s entry into the modern era. Together, this triptych was the largest example of cloisonné enamel made through that date. Today, the censer resides in the collection of Hirose Atsushi at the Tokyo National Museum. The other vase resides in the Khalili Collection at Oxford and since 1895 up until now, the second vase was considered “missing.” It had however, been quietly residing in the main dining room at Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto. This extraordinary vase will be offered with an estimate of $30,000-$50,000. Bidding Note: Bidding on this piece is available in person or by phone only and requires pre-approval

In January 2019, Clars presented the first installment of the Spenger Maritime Collection,  which was displayed for decades inside Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto, transforming the restaurant into a virtual maritime museum. The first installment soared past expectations with just 70 lots offered achieving over $100,000. The second installment of the Historic Spenger Maritime Collection in February will include the continuation of the collection of ships’ pilot wheels, diving helmets, name boards, instruments, scale models of ships, mounted trophy fish and other exciting artifacts and memorabilia.

Among the maritime offerings will be this reproduction of an antique diving helmet. Clars Auction Gallery image

Clars will sell sculptures installed on the grounds of the Oakland Museum of California on Sunday, Feb. 17. One of the highlights is a 12-foot-high steel sculpture by Bay Area artist Fletcher Benton (American, b. 1931). Titled Donut and Balls with Square (2002), this fine example of combined geometric shapes epitomizes Benton’s abstract style and will have an estimate of $20,000-$30,000.

Fletcher Benton’s sculpture titled ‘Donut and Balls with Square’ will be offered with an estimate of $20,000-30,000. Clars Auction Gallery image

Commissioned for the museum’s 25th anniversary by friends of the Oakland Museum of California, Harvest (1994), by Richard Deutsch (American, b. 1953) is a sculpture made from castings of historic California farm and ranch artifacts. This large work is estimated at $12,000-$18,000.

A mesmerizing welded burnished steel sculpture by Matt Glavin (American, b. 1926), Untitled (1967), will also be featured. This beautiful abstract work reflects nature and the blue California sky and will be offered for $10,000-$20,000.

Known internationally for his large, colorful metal compositions, Michael Bigger’s (American, 1937-2011) welded iron sculpture, Love Plow #1 (1968), stands at 84 inches high by 84 inches wide and is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.

These are just a few of the many fine sculptures from the Oakland Museum of California that will be offered at Clars Important Feb. 17 auction. These sculptures will be sold onsite on the grounds of the Oakland Museum and winning bidders are responsible for removal by March 31.

Tadeusz Brzozowski’s (Polish, 1918-1987) painting Stancja, from 1961, will highlight the paintings section. Representing Poland in the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, this painting elicits astonishment for its distinctive style, expressive power, and aggressive, lyrical abstraction. Appearing out of private hands for the first time since it was purchased at the Gres Gallery in Chicago in the 1960s, Stancja will certainly attract global bidders from Poland and beyond with an estimate of $20,000-$40,000.

Tadeusz Brzozowski (Polish, 1918-1987), ‘Stancja,’ oil on canvas, 1961, 54¼ x 52¾ inches framed. Estimate: $20,000-$40,000. Clars Auction Gallery image

The highlight of the photography portion of Clars’ February sale will be an important work by Henri Cartier-Bresson (French, 1908-2004). The work, titled Srinagar, Kashmir, was taken in 1947 during Cartier-Bresson’s trip to a dividing India. Captured is a group of Muslim women as they pray on Hari Parbat Hill with the Himalayas in the distance. This photograph will be offered at $10,000 to $15,000.

For details contact Clars Auction Gallery at 510-428-0100.