February Auction Highlights

01 Feb

Rare 34 carat Fancy Light Yellow Diamond Ring,
Historic Japanese Vase from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the Second Installment of the Famous Spenger Maritime Collection to be presented at Clars Auction Gallery on February 17, 2019

Oakland, CA – On Sunday, February 17th, the world will be watching as Clars will host what is anticipated to be the most extraordinary sale in their history. Both history and mystery have unfolded as the contents of the famous Spenger Collection of Berkeley, CA, has been researched and revealed. (History of Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto below)
Spenger Diamond

The 34.28 Carat Diamond Ring

Headlining this sale will be the very rare 34.28 fancy light yellow old mine cut diamond and platinum ring, VS2 (GIA). Frank Spenger acquired this ring in 1950 and its prior history is as rich as the ring itself. 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 (San Francisco) on this 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. It spent 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. (Note: Bidding on this piece is available in person or by phone only and requires pre-approval. Preview of this ring is available by appointment only.)


The Monumental Japanese Cloisonne Vase from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair

Since the day that Deric Torres, Vice President for Clars Auction Gallery, discovered and determined that the vase, which reigned for over 100 years as the centerpiece in the main dining room of Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto in Berkeley (CA), was actually 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, it’s discovery made headlines around the world. 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 eight 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. The design of the vases was conceived by Shin Shinwoda, the Special Counselor for Arts of the Imperial Commission to the Exposition. Their manufacture was undertaken by Shirozayemon Suzuki, of Yokohama, with the co-operation of Seizayemon Tsunekawa of Nagoya. The original design was painted by Kanpo Araki of Tokyo, and the black ink sketch on the copper body was made by Kiosai Oda of Nagoya. The men directly in charge of making the vases were Gisaburo Tsukamoto and Kihio ye Hayashi, of Toshim. It took this team of artists and manufacturers over four years to complete this project. Upon completion, it was viewed and approved personally by Japanese Emperor Mutsuhito (posthumous name: Emperor Meiji).

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.  Since 1895 the second vase was considered “missing.” It had however been hiding in plain sight and quietly residing in the main dining room at Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto in Berkeley, CA.

This extraordinary vase will be offered with an estimate of $30,000 – $50,000. (Note: Bidding on this piece is available in person or by phone only and requires pre-approval)

Part Two of the Historic Spenger Maritime Collection

Clars.SpengerMaritimeDiveHelmetIn 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 achieving over $100,000.

The second installment in February will include the continuation of the collection of ships’ pilot wheels, diving helmets, nameboards, instruments, ships scale models, mounted trophy fish and other exciting artifacts and memorabilia.






Oakland Museum of CaliforniaSpecial Onsite Sculpture Sale at the Oakland Museum of California

Clars is pleased to be offering outdoor sculpture to be sold onsite on the grounds of the Oakland Museum of California on Sunday, February 17th. One of the highlights is a 144 inch-high steel sculpture by SF Bay Area’s own 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.
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 work interprets and ties together the three main focuses of the Museum — the art, ecology, and history of California. This 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.
California and Bay Area sculptor, David Kimball Anderson (American, b. 1946) is known for his whimsical and beautifully delicate sculptures. One of which is a welded steel sculpture titled, Tilden Lights (1974), and will be offered for $5,000-7,000.
These are just a few of the many fine sculptures from the Oakland Museum of California that will be offered at Clars Important February 17th Auction. (Note: These sculptures will be sold in situ on the grounds of the Oakland Museum and the winning bidder(s) are responsible for removal by March 31st.)


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.


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.


Among the other highlights in this sale will be a Chinese huanghuali horseshoe back folding chair estimated at $15,000 – $25,000.
In sterling, the top lot is an American parcel gilt figural centerpiece, 1897-1912, by Martele for Gorham, that will be offered for $10,000 – $15,000. A Tiffany & Co. sterling silver flatware service for twelve in the “Chrysanthemum” pattern will be offered for estimated at $8,000-12,000.
In furniture, a collection of Greene and Greene style furniture will be offered as well as several major Arts and Crafts pieces including Gustav Stickley.
The Mid-Century Modern offerings will be particularly strong. The predominant items to be offered are a set of eight Finn Juhl NV-51 chairs for Baker that are estimated at $5000-7000, and a Finn Juhl Chieftain chair valued at $5000-7000. There will be many additional legendary designers such as Børge Mogensen, Bruno Mathsson, Hans Wegner, Charles and Ray Eames, and Walter Lamb.
A fine collection of Native American art will be offered and a collection of Pre-Columbian Nayarit figures and African art will be offered during both the Saturday and Sunday session.
Other fine jewelry and timepieces include a large selection of watches by brands such as Omega, Girard Genta and Chronoswiss. And for those not desiring the 34 carat diamond ring, there will be several other nice diamond, ruby, emerald and sapphire rings and other jewelry offered.

Clars February 16th and 17th Fine Art, Decorative Art, Furniture, Jewelry and Asian Art Auction will present over 2,000 lots of exceptional property in all categories.

The sales will begin at 9:30am on Saturday and Sunday. Previews for this sale will be held Friday, February 15th from 1pm to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday beginning at 9:00 am and by appointment the week prior. For more information, please visit clars.com or email: [email protected]. The Sunday catalog with be available online Tuesday, Feb. 5th and the Saturday catalog will be up on Thursday, Feb. 7th.

Bidding for Clars’ auctions is available in person, by phone, absentee and live online at Live.Clars.com

Clars Auction Gallery is located at 5644 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609. Tel: (510) 428-0100.

Clars Auction Gallery is based in Oakland (CA) and is the largest full service auction gallery in the Western United States. Clars Auction Gallery has been the chosen auction gallery of a number of institutions and distinguished private collectors across the country including the Richard Mellon Scaife Estate, the Thomas J. Perkins Estate and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC).

In the last 5 years, Clars Auction Gallery has sold over $105,000,000 of Fine Art, Furnishings, Jewelry, Vehicles and Collectibles and has set multiple new world auction records. Follow Clars on Facebook and Twitter!

Spenger's restaurant in Berkeley, CAThe History of Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto

Spenger’s was founded by Johann Spenger who emigrated to California from Bavaria in 1860 and worked as a hook and line fisherman on Oakland’s Lake Merritt. Beginning as just a clam stand in the 1890s, Johann’s son Frank expanded the “stand” to a full restaurant in the 1930s. Since then, celebrities and locals alike packed the restaurant daily. In the 1950s, the restaurant was serving 3,500 pounds of fish each day, more than any restaurant west of the Mississippi. By the 1980s, it was serving 3,000 meals each day, staffed by 240 employees and had grown to be the fourth busiest restaurant in the country.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply


iOS App Android App