On May 19th and 20th, 2102, Clars Auction Gallery in Oakland hosted what will be recorded as their largest fine art and antiques sale in the firm’s 40 year history. The rich and important investment quality property offered drew bidders from around the world with the sale earning just over $1.8 million. The fine art category, which offered a very strong selection of Modern and Contemporary works by renowned American and European artists, realized over $760,000 (includes buyers premium) with the remaining $1+ million realized on important historic property, antique furnishings, Asian offerings and highly sought after special collections. Director of Decoratives and Furnishings for Clars, Deric Torres, commented after the sale “It was phenomenal to watch the bidding come in from around the world and energy on the sale room floor.” Under the leadership of President Redge Martin, who bought Clars in 1996, and his exceptional staff of experts, the firm has gained the reputation for acquiring and representing some of the finest estates in California.
Leading the impressive art offerings and topping the two-day sale overall, was an important abstract by Italian artist Parmeggiani Tancredi (1927-1964). Surpassing all expectations, Tancredi’s large oil on canvas Untitled, circa 1958, came to the block with an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000 but competitive international bidding on this work quickly drove the final sale price to $225,950. Director of Fine Art for Clars, Rick Unruh, was "very pleased with sale of the Tancredi painting going well over its estimate. We had numerous bidders from all over the world on this lot with the winning bid coming from Italy. Clars has proven yet again that our global audience is second to none."
Another Italian work, Avvenimento by Edmondo Bacci (1913-1989) also came close to doubling its presale high estimate selling for $18,960.
Two bronze sculptures, Nature Revealing Herself to Science, by Louis Ernest Barrias (French, 1841-1905) and Indian on Horseback, by Alexander Phimster Proctor (American, 1860-1950) tied for second place in the sale. Both works sold solidly within their estimates going for $24,885 respectively. The bronze sculpture, Figure Looking Skyward, by Elizabeth Catlett (American, 1915‐2012), also performed well selling for $14,280.
Turning to works by American artists, the top sellers were a framed oil on canvas entitled Boats in the Cove, by Walter Farndon (American, 1876-1964) which sold for over high estimate at $20,145 followed by the framed ink on paper, Peanuts Daily Comic Strip 8-13-1962 (United Feature Syndicate, 1962), by Charles Schulz (Californian, 1922-2000). Estimated to sell for $15,000 on the high side, America’s beloved Peanuts earned an impressive $16,590.
Rounding out the top sellers in the fine art offerings was a framed oil on canvas entitled Antonia, by Jean‐Gabriel Domergue (French, 1889‐1962) which more that doubled it’s high estimate selling for $14,280. A framed gouache on paper, Blue Nude, 1965, by Karel Appel (Dutch, 1921‐2006), sold for $15,470 and the framed gelatin silver print, Mainbocher Corset, Paris, 1939, by Horst P. Horst (German/American, 1906‐ 1999), earned a very respectable $10,710.
The decoratives and furnishings category featured exceptional property both in provenance and quality. A highlight of this category was the much-anticipated Pottier & Stymus Victorian bedroom suite comprised of footboard, headboard, bureau and mirror and all made of ornately carved Rosewood. This bedroom suite was custom made for 19th century San Francisco multi-millionare James C. Flood’s Linden Towers mansion in Menlo Park. At the time, this estate was regarded as the most elaborate country manor in the country. When bidding on this suite opened, serious Victorian furniture collectors from across the country jumped in with heated bidding. In the end though, much to the delight of Deric Torres, Director of Decoratives and Furnishings for Clars, the winning bid went to a local San Francisco Bay Area couple who became captivated by its provenance as well as it’s incredible design. The famous Pottier & Stymus Victorian bedroom suite sold for $17, 775 and will remain safely in San Francisco.
Other 19th century furniture performed also saw strong results. An American Renaissance Revival Wooton desk, circa 1874, executed in walnut earned an impressive $7,140 and a Regency inlaid breakfast table, circa 1820, almost tripled its high estimate selling for $5,355. Turning to Modern furniture, a Dan Johnson Studio Gazelle dining table, Italy, circa 1955, sold very well at 7,140.
On the decoratives side, a Blanc de chine porcelain and gilt bronze clock sold for $10,115 and an unsigned 19th century marble bust entitled Portrait of a Duchess, French School, solidly surpassed its high estimated fetching $5,355.
Sterling offerings also sold exceptionally well. A Gorham seven piece presentation service earned $7,735 followed by a Reed & Barton sterling flatware service for ten in the Les Cinq Fleurs pattern and an International Silver Company service for twelve in the Trianon pattern which both earned $2,975.
A number of lots were offered which reflected the rich and robust history of San Francisco during the Gold Rush era. Two highlights of these offerings were a very rare San Francisco Committee of Vigilance Membership Certificate dated May 1856, which sold for $4,111. The San Francisco Vigilance Movement consisted of two popular ad hoc organizations whose sole purpose was to reign in crime and government corruption. Notorious in their methods, the 1856 committee is regarded as the most successful by employing the vigilante traditions of the American West. The second historic piece was a California Gold Quartz walking stick presented by Carleton E. Watkins to his father, J.M. Watkins, in 1869. Carleton Watkins arrived in San Francisco in 1849 and went on to become the foremost landscape photographer of the 19th century. His early work elevated him as an internationally recognized fine artist and, through his images, he introduced Yosemite to the world. This Gold Quartz walking stick sold for an impressive $6,545.
In November 2011, Clars was the first West Coast auction house to offer a special collection of high-society fashion. Having met with extreme success, the May sale followed up with a special collection of designer handbags from Hermes, Judith Lieber, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Once again, the fashionistas came out spending over $40,000 on just 28 lots. The seller in this special collection was an Hermes 40cm Togo Leather Birkin Bag complete with original dust cover, box and bag which fetched $13,090.
Bidders looking for the perfect bling to complement their designer bags were not disappointed with the jewelry category. Diamonds and Patek Phlippe dominated this category with a Lady’s Patek Philippe Nautilus wristwatch in 18k gold earning $5,050 and a diamond wedding ring suite which sported one round brilliant cut diamond and four traditional round full cut diamonds sold for $8,330.
Rounding out this record-breaking sale for Clars was the Asian category which, once again, saw astounding prices on several lots offered. Topping this category and placing second in the sale overall, was a pair of Chinese huanghuali yoke-back chairs, Qing dynasty, which sold for $59,250. The next highest seller in the Asian offerings was a single Chinese huanghuali yokle-back armchair, also Qing dynasty, which earned $24,885.
For complete information of Clars May 19th and 20th, 2012 antiques and fine art auction, please visit www.clars.com; call (510) 428-0100 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Clars Auction Gallery is located at 5644 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609.
Clars next Fine Art and Antiques Auction will be held on Saturday and Sunday, June 16-17, 2012. Please contact Clars Auction Gallery for consignment information and to register to bid on this upcoming two-day event.