Private investment group acquires Clars Auction Gallery
OAKLAND, Calif. – On Wednesday, August 14, 2019, Clars Auction Gallery announced that is had been acquired by a private investment group. The investors, who will now serve as the board of directors of the firm, confirmed that Richard G. Unruh (who is also part of the investment group as well as on of the board of directors) will assume the role of CEO and President of Clars. For the past several years, Richard (Rick) Unruh served as Vice President and Director of Fine Arts for Clars, and has been pivotal in substantially increasing sales of the Fine Art department to national and global-level collectors, achieving numerous new world records and securing important estates, institutions and museums as clients.
In a statement, Unruh said, “This acquisition is very exciting for all of us at Clars, and we will continue to serve our clients with the same dedication, integrity and vision for the future that former president and owner, Redge Martin, did for 23 years. I am so honored to assume the role of CEO and President for this distinguished company and, on behalf of myself, the board of directors and the amazing staff here at Clars, we look forward to building on our many great strengths and taking Clars to even higher levels in both the national and international markets. I am also personally grateful for having had the opportunity to work with Redge Martin for the past several years. He’s an icon in the industry, building Clars to be one of the most respected full-service auction houses in the country. I am further grateful that, while he looks forward to moving on to his much-deserved retirement, he will still remain part of the Clars family, available for advice and consultation now and in the future.”
Redge Martin joined Clars Auction Gallery in 1993 when it was under the ownership of Harvey Clar, who founded it in 1972, coming from the auction house Butterfield & Butterfield. In 1996, Martin bought the Gallery from Harvey Clar and has spent the last 23 years, never faltering from his vision of taking Clars to the highest level possible, as the leading auction house in the Western United States, and becoming a force in the global auction market of fine art, jewelry and estates. He now looks forward to spending time with grandchildren and several international endeavors.
In his statement regarding his years as president of Clars, Redge Martin said, “I had never been to an auction, having a finance background, until I serendipitously took a job at Butterfield’s. It was very rewarding to grow Clars auction gallery to twelve times the volume it had had when I started. This was during a time when the entire industry went through a seismic shift as the Internet and online bidding changed everything. So Clars, being in the proximity of Silicon Valley, had to change as well.”
“This is a very small industry, but you see amazing things, view incredible houses, and meet some very interesting people over time. It took a lot of work, but we were able hire many fantastic people who made the whole business possible and we’re very grateful to them. They were able to blend great customer service with product knowledge and technical skills. They were, and continue to be, the reason clients come back to Clars and give us many referrals.”
Among the other exciting changes at Clars, they are proud to announce that Deric Torres, former Vice President of Furniture and Decorative Arts has been promoted to the role of Sr. Vice President of Trusts & Estates while retaining his directorship of the furniture and decorative arts division. In a statement by Torres, he said, “ I am thankful for the opportunities Redge gave me over the years. It’s been rewarding and so exciting, and I look forward to moving forward to greater visions under the new leadership.”
In closing, Unruh said, “While we have great goals and plans for Clars, for both our longtime and new clients, Clars will remain unchanged. I think it’s a real testament to the passion and commitment all of us at Clars share that, even though Harvey Clar sold the Gallery to Redge 23 years ago. At age 89, Harvey still pops in from time to time – he’s still family. And now, while Redge will be retired, he’ll be stopping in from time to time as well. It’s hard to think of another company that’s been around for 47 years and still has all the previous owners involved. Now, that’s special and that’s Clars!”
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