OAKLAND, CA.- Clars May 30 and 31, 2015, resulted in the second highest sale in the firm’s history realizing $2.8 million on the significant offerings of fine art, decorative art, furnishing, jewelry and Asian art and antiques. Represented in this sale was property from the Hirschhorn Museum (Washington D.C.), the Richard Mellon Scaife Estate, the Lillian Kornbluth Estate and 18th and 19th century antiques from legendary Trotter’s Antiques of Pacific Grove, CA. The Fine Art category set a new firm record for their art sales realizing over $1.2 million with Decorative Arts and Furnishings earning $800k, Jewelry and Timepieces coming in at $400k and the Asian category realizing $300k. After the sale, Rick Unruh, Vice President and Director of Fine Art for Clars commented, “We offered some very important paintings, prints and sculpture in this sale with incredible provenance and, as a result, all categories performed exceptionally well.”
The highest selling piece of the sale overall was an important, late-surrealist painting by Gordon Onslow Ford (American/British, 1912-2003) from the artist’s triumphant 1940s period, Untitled (1945), which went well past its $65,000-$85,000 estimate to sell for $95,200.
One of the highlights of the auction was the Estate of Lillian Kornbluth, an established art dealer in the New York metropolitan area and later in Santa Barbara, California. The Kornbluth Estate featured numerous paintings, prints and decorative items from an array of important artists, one of which being works by artist, Wolf Kahn (American/German, b. 1927). Fourteen works by Kahn were offered on May 31st with the most impressive painting, In Praise of Revelyne Red (1993), leading the way by fetching $35,700 from an estimate of $25,000-30,000, followed by another of the three oils on canvas titled, Landscape with a Warm Yellow Background, which sold for $26,180. One of Ms. Kornbluth’s personal favorites was a magnificent print titled, Geisha (2003), by Helen Frankenthaler (American, 1928-2011). The woodcut, comprised of twenty-three cuts of wood, was created in the “Ukiyo-e” Japanese woodblock tradition and used a technique known as “soak-stain.” This print sold for an impressive $21,420 making it one of the top prices paid for this multiple by the artist. At the end of the day, the Estate of Lillian Kornbluth fared very well with $154,700 in sales.
Another Post War outperformer, a colorful oil on canvas by New York abstract expressionist artist, Giorgio Cavallon (American, 1904-1989), Untitled (1948), soared well past its $10,000-15,000 estimate to fetch $38,675. From the collection of Dr. Peter B. Fischer (Los Angeles, California), this Mondrian inspired painting had numerous telephone bidders from all over the country vying to win this spectacular work.
LeRoy Neiman (American, 1921-2012), always a favorite, as well as a winner in achieving monumental outcomes at Clars, came through yet again with the painting, The Steeplechase, Longchamp, Paris, (1981), finishing at $27,370 from its starting estimate of $15,000-20,000.
Post War, Modern and Contemporary American sculpture was an important category and contributor to the record fine art sale at Clars on May 31st. One of which was an intricate but visually stunning, welded steel sculpture by Paul Evans (American, 1931-1987), Untitled, 1966, which sold for an impressive $28,560. Executed in 1995, a porcelain with metallic finish sculpture by Jeff Koons (American, b. 1955), titled, Balloon Dog (Red), added to this category, faring so well with its incredible ascension past its $8,000-$12,000 estimate to arrive at $14,280. A monumental bronze sculpture titled, Joie de Vivre (1999), by Richard MacDonald (American, b. 1946), fetched a respectable $22,610. Clars was pleased to sell this beautiful sculpture on behalf of The Holy Assumption Monastery in Calistoga, California (which is one of the oldest Russian Orthodox churches in the United States). A notable new world record for the artist Mary Louise Snowden (American b. 1952) was established at Clars with the bronze sculpture, Sirius Star Tracer, which had numerous bidders taking it well past its $2000-$4000 estimate to sell for $11,305 to round out this category.
In the early 20th century American sculpture category, one of the highlights was a rare pair of bronze Allegorical Maquettes (Richard Morris Hunt Memorial, New York City) by Daniel Chester French (American, 1850–1931) which surprised the crowd when it sold for $47,600 to an anonymous buyer through one of the many Clars’ global internet bidding platforms. French was commissioned to create a monument (located at Fifth Avenue and East 70th Street across from the Frick Museum) to Richard Morris Hunt (1827-1895) who was one of the most influential and prominent American architects of the 19th century, “Gilded Age.” Clars was pleased to have had the opportunity to successfully sell these maquettes (or small scale sculptural models) that had come from the direct descendants of Richard Morris Hunt. The only other known set was recently acquired for the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Turning to late 19th century American paintings, a near mint condition work by American master landscape painter of outdoor beauty, Albert Bierstadt (American, 1830-1902), titled, Stream with Mountain Vista, rallied well past its estimate of $12,000-18,000 to reach the summit price of $19,040.
Late 19th and early 20th century California artwork also sold exceptionally well on May 31st. One of the many highlights was a classic watercolor by Percy Gray (American, 1869-1952), titled Marin Oak (1918), fetching $22,610 – well above its estimate of $10,000-$15,000. Also notable was a spectacular as well as exceptionally large painting titled, Yosemite Valley from Artists Point, by California artist Manuel Valencia (American, 1856-1935) that sold for an impressive $17,080, making it the second highest price for the artist since 1995.
European and Russian paintings rounded out the highly successful sale of fine art at Clars with a colorfully reflective oil on canvas by Konstantin Ivanovich Gorbatov (Russian, 1876-1945) titled Venice, which achieved a surprising final price of $23,800, followed by a large, but beautifully rendered, painting by French artist, Eugene Galien-Laloue (1854-1941) titled Madeleine a Paris, selling for an impressive $22,610.
Decorative Arts and Furnishings
The exciting results in Furnishings and Decorative Art were driven by the continued fervor for property of the Richard Mellon Scaife Estate as well as the offerings from the recently closed Trotter Antiques of Pacific Grove, CA.
Exemplifying the demand for property from the Mellon Scaife Estate was the astonishing final sale price on a pair of English sterling silver servers mounted with ivory handles, bearing maker’s mark WUS, Edinborough, Scotland, 1920 and T.W. Birmingham, 1877. Estimated to sell for $500 to $700, this set went for an astonishing $29,750. Another surprise of note was a lot of six (6) Sevres hand painted porcelain cabinet plates. Presale estimates had their high at $600 to $900 but vigorous bidding drove the final sale price of this set to an incredible $22,600.
The initial offering of Trotter’s Antiques was impressive, realizing over $300,000. Topping the sale from the inventory of this legendary antiques destination was a 19th century Napolean III onyx and ormolu mounted cabinet executed by Charles-Guillame Diehl, Paris. Even displaying some condition issues, this cabinet sold for over twice its high estimate going for $32,725. Inventory from Trotter Antiques will continue to be offered at the upcoming sales.
Among the other notable sales was a 19th century Swiss enamel mechanical singing bird box movement which soared past all expectations fetching $23,800.
Modern furniture performed very well too, with a Pedro Friedeberg (Mexican/American born 1937) “Left Hand Chair” realizing $10,710 and a pair of Hans Wegner CH-22 chairs bringing $4,760. Rounding out this genre, a Carlo Nason (Italian, born 1936) mouth blown Murano chandelier for Mazzega, sold for $11,300.
And finally, the silver category was particularly strong. In addition to the English servers, a Chinese export tea service achieved an impressive $8,330.
Fine Jewelry and Timepieces
A yellow diamond and near-colorless diamond ring with a rectangular modified brilliant cut diamond weighing 7.52 cts realized the second highest price for the auction, selling very well for $71,400. A second diamond and platinum wedding ring suite highlighted by a round brilliant cut diamond weighing approximately 5.30 cts sold for within estimate at $35,700. Solidly surpassing the estimate however, was a Belle Epoque natural pearl and diamond necklace that realized $17,850. Rounding out the beautiful jewelry offerings was carved jadeite diamond and 18k white gold pendant brooch which brought just over $10,000.
Asian Art and Antiques
Chinese ceramics were the highlights in the Asian art category for May. Topping the list was a Ding type foliate rim dish, molded with dragons amid tendrils. Intense bidding drove the final sale price well over estimate to $17,850. Next, a Longquan style celadon glazed vase with a cylindrical neck and low slung body achieved $13,000.
In addition to the ceramics, a Chinese coral figure carving, late Qing/Republic period, from the Richard Mellon Scaife Estate, sold impressively for $13,100 and pair of large Chinese rose medallion export vases with ormolu lion form mounts, sold for $9,500.