Clars Auction Gallery sees strong results for Modern + Contemporary Art + Design sales
In September, Clars was proud to present the firm’s Modern + Contemporary Art + Design auction. This curated specialized sale was a great success realizing over $1,300,000 with just over 365 lots. The sale was led by Andy Warhol’s iconic Moonwalk screenprints. Printed in 1987, the suite depicts Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin’s famous walk on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission of 1969. Emphasized in both yellow and pink, the prints capture Warhol’s classic pop art visuals while simultaneously demonstrating a shift away from commercial imagery to historical events and figures. The works were intended to be a part of a series depicting famous and influential television events but due to the artist’s death just months after their printing, Moonwalk was the only image completed. With numerous telephone bidders from across the globe, and many collectors vying for the prints, the price soared to $417,500.
Rick Unruh, CEO and President of Clars noted, “Our Modern + Contemporary Art + Design sale reached a global audience, evidence of the fact that Clars is on the map when it comes to Modern and Contemporary. We also continue to reach record prices with works by Andy Warhol. It couldn’t have been better timing in offering these screenprints, with the splash down of the SpaceX Inspiration4 this weekend — the first all-civilian space flight.”
Another major highlight from the sale was a Paul Wonner (American, 1920–2008) painting, Flowers and Boxes of Fruit (1991) that commanded $125,000, well over its $80,000–120,000 estimate.
Portraiture of racy historical sitters are often a favorite among collectors. Such was the case at Clars Auction Gallery on February 21, when The Lady in Black and Green (Mrs Dudley Ward) by Sir John Lavery (Irish, 1856–1941) crossed the block in the firm’s Fine Art & Antique Auction. The sitter was an English socialite best known for being the married mistress of the Prince of Wales (who later became King Edward VIII) from 1918 to 1929. Painted in 1920 at the peak of her romance with the future king, this oil on canvas stirred up some old gossip. With numerous international telephone bidders vying for the portrait, it ultimately commanded a total of $135,300.
Rick Unruh, CEO and director of the Fine Art department at Clars said, “We were very pleased with the outcome of Lavery’s painting, The Lady in Green and Black (Mrs. Dudley Ward). I believe that the sitter, being a fairly renowned personality in early Twentieth Century British society, and her connection to King Edward VIII, made this painting quite special. Also, having 14 international telephone bidders on this lot did help immensely, too.”
The painting came to Clars from a San Francisco Bay Area estate. Deric Torres, senior vice president of Trust and Estates added, “The trust bequeathed many items to institutions around the country, and the Lavery painting is one of many fine items we will be offering from this very important estate.”
20th Century Design was featured prominently in the 2021 auction series. A Dale Chihuly (American b. 1941), Untitled (Pink and white glass chandelier) commanded $62,500. Art glass always sells well, and Clars will have a nice selection of glass in the March 2022 Art + Design auction, including Chihuly, Fontana Arte, and Afro Celotto among others.
A collection of Hermes furniture realized at total of $77,125 across eight lots. Several of the pieces were reissues of models originally designed by Jean Michel Frank for Hermes in the 1920s. The strong selling price for the Hermes furniture is indicative that Art Deco style is starting to trend into 2022.
A Philip and Kelvin Laverne Eternal Forest coffee table commanded $22,500. This table, from the 1960s, is in a rare natural motif, which undoubtably led to several bidders vying for the lot.
Jewelry at Clars saw great successes in 2021. The department achieved nearly $3M in sales, more than doubling the previous year’s sales. This was in-part to the introduction of their curated Fine Jewelry Sales, which represented excellent examples of diamond, colored gemstone and signed jewelry spanning the Georgian period to contemporary.
The year surmounted by the sale of a very light blue diamond, weighing 8.58 carats. The rare color, often surrounded by myth and lore, thrilled buyers, achieving a sales result of $468,500.
Diamonds continued to achieve top prices with the sale of a 5.04 carats pear brilliant-cut diamond ring, showing G color and VS1 clarity. The sizable stone displaying great clarity achieved a sale price of $87,500.
We also saw excellent results in fresh-to-market antiques, like this Victorian colored diamond brooch designed as a horseshoe, which achieved a sale price $9,375.
The call for signed jewelry was strong across decades. This included the sale of an eighteen karat gold necklace produced by American jewelry house, David Webb, which fetched $19,050; and in addition, the sale of a fine diamond and gemstone brooch, designed by Oskar Woldemar Pihl for Fabregé, designed as a frond, which achieved $12,500.
The Asian Art department had several important auction items, including a gilt bronze Buddhist figure in the Tibeto-Chinese style, that sold for $187,500. Produced during the 15th century for the Ming dynasty, imperial patronage are highly distinguished for their unsurpassed craftsmanship, overall refinement and gracefulness.
The distinct Imperial style of the bronze figure that sold at Clars includes the double-lotus bases with beaded rims and characteristic facial features with broadened outline, gently arched brows above the lidded eyes and subtle smile, all finished with great attention to detail.
A Chinese huanghuali corner leg table, with a single paneled top and “giant’s arms” braces supporting the beaded legs and apron, went for $93,750. The table measured 18 inches high and 77 inches long.
The Eighteenth Century table was cut down to coffee table height and would have originally been taller. They were primarily made for painting, calligraphy or writing in a scholar’s studio.
When asked what made it special, Harry Huang, Associate Director of Asian Art at Clars said, “It’s primarily the age and the size of the table. It’s roughly Eighteenth Century and it’s very comparable to other pieces sold at other major auction houses. The size, at 77 inches, is pretty much the max for that type of table.”
Clars Auction Gallery is located at 5644 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA 94609.