Schwenke Auctioneers - Anniversary Fine Estates Auction - May 22

Artist Record for Harrison Bird Brown in $3.2 Million Clars Auction

  • OAKLAND, California
  • /
  • June 02, 2014

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Achieving the highest outcome of the Fine Art Sale was this monumental work by Friedel Dzubas’ (American/German, 1915-1994) titled, “Dark Barrier (1983).” Perhaps one of the largest pieces ever created by the artist, this work soared past its $50,000 high estimate realizing $53,600.

Clars Auction Gallery’s May 17, 18, 19, 2014, Fine Art, Jewelry and Decoratives Auction will go down in the firm’s history as their largest sale to date generating $3.2 million. Closing the 8th month of their fiscal year, Clars is up an impressive 59% over their last fiscal year, recording higher sales than any previous year. All categories outperformed expectations and determined buyers from around the globe drove many final sale prices to well beyond estimate.


The top seller of the three-day event was realized in the Fine Jewelry category. A rare fancy brownish pink diamond, near colorless diamonds and platinum ring was centered with one cut-cornered square modified brilliant cut (Radiant) diamond weighing 3.04cts. Estimated to sell for $100,000 to $150,000, this exceptional work of art in jewelry sold for $143,000. Also selling impressively was a fine jadeite, sapphire, diamond and platinum ring which brought $38,500.


The second highest price achieved in the sale overall was realized on a Chinese hardwood huanghuali coffer.  Expected to achieve a high of $25,000, the fiercely competitive bidding drove the final sale price to $77,400. Coming in just behind this was a lot of 4 Chinese hardwood huanghuali “lamp hanger” chairs. Also more than doubling high estimate, this lot went for $71,400.  Tying for third place in this category was a three-section desk, a pierced wanzi cabinet and a pair of lattice panel cabinets which all surpassed their estimates selling for $65,000 each. The highly anticipated huanghuali collection from the Gerber Estate generated over $640,000 with the Asian category in total generating just shy of $1 million on the 113 lots offered.

The largest painting ever to come to auction by Harrison Bird Brown (American, 1831-1915) also set a new global record for the artist. Titled, “Picnic by the Falls (White Mountains, Maine), this work achieved $23,800, solidly surpassing its $10,000 to $15,000 estimate.


Achieving the highest outcome of the Fine Art category was Friedel Dzubas’ (American/German, 1915-1994) painting titled, “Dark Barrier (1983).”  Perhaps one of the largest pieces ever created by the artist, this work soared past its $50,000 high estimate realizing $53,600.  Another Abstract Expressionist work which also excelled was Ray Parker’s (American, 1922–1990) oil on canvas, “Untitled, Brown, Blue, Orange,” from 1960. With an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000, it rallied to a final price of $35,700. A classic example by LeRoy Neiman (American, 1921-2012), titled “At the Racetrack (1964)” closed at $35,700 posting a nice finish from its $25,000 to $35,000 estimate.

 Post-war collectors interested in original works by Sam Francis (California, 1923-1994) boosted the end results of two monotypes that realized $19,000 and $13,000. Never missing a beat of success in the global auction, Andy Warhol’s (American, 1928-1987) “Geronimo (from the “Cowboy and Indians” series)” [PHOTO 5] galloped past its $15,000 to $20,000 estimate to settle at an impressive $24,000. This was followed by the illuminating result of Warhol’s print, “Electric Chair,” which shocked the crowd to realize $11,300.

 African American Modernism prevailed yet again at Clars with a rare set of three (3) hand-painted, polychrome porcelain enamel on steel tiles by Sargent Johnson (American, 1888 -1967) titled, “Two Women,” “The Bulls,” and “Dog,” which achieved a price of $26,000. Johnson produced only 100 of these pieces and this was the first time this medium by the artist had ever come to the market.  A bronze sculpture titled, “Tribal Woman,” by Elizabeth Catlett (American, 1915-2012) added to this category’s strength to realize $15,500 against its $10,000 to $15,000 estimate.

This Abstract Expressionist work by Ray Parker (American, 1922–1990) titled “Untitled, Brown, Blue, Orange,” from 1960. With an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000, it rallied to a final price of $35,700.

 Moving to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the largest painting ever to come to auction by Harrison Bird Brown (American, 1831-1915)  titled, “Picnic by the Falls (White Mountains, Maine), set a new global auction record of $23,800 for the artist and solidly surpassing its $10,000 to $15,000 estimate.

 The second best performer in Fine Art was a watercolor by Frank Tenney Johnson (American, 1874-1939) titled, “A Mexican Smuggler (1914).” [PHOTO 7] Measuring thirty-three inches in height, it was the largest work on paper ever to come to the market by the artist realizing an impressive outcome of $47,600. Adding to the stellar results of watercolors, two beautiful works by Percy Gray, "Chief Gall" and “Carmel Valley,” realized $17,500 and $11,900.

 Southwest artist, Howard Schleeter’s (American, 1903-19776) painting, “Taos Valley, New Mexico (1937),” quickly jumped past its $12,000 to $16,000 to finish at $20,500 due to several aggressive telephone bidders. An oil on canvas by Alaskan artist, Sydney Mortimer Laurence (1865-1940) titled, "Mt. McKinley, Alaska Height 20300 Ft,” scaled the summit to peak at $29,800.


A very hot car experienced very heated bidding and achieved top lot in the Decorative Arts & Furnishings category. A gorgeous white 1954 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster [PHOTO 8] in original condition sped off for a smooth ride at $65,500. Racing behind were two 2008 Ron Simms custom motorcycles which sold for $12,000 and $13,000 respectively and a 2001 Harley Heritage Softail Classic rumbled off for $7,000.

 Befitting for a northern California-based auction house, just a stone’s throw from the famous “Gold Country,” a California gold nugget weighing 10.9 total oz. sold for just over $20,000 and a second weighing in a 9.9 total oz. brought $12,000.

 In the decorative arts offered, the highlights included an antique Continental woven tapestry panel  which sold nicely for $19,000. In the impressive sterling offerings, a large collection of Georg Jensen went for over $40,000 and a Tiffany water pitcher sold for $17,800 followed by a Chinese Export silver tea service by Woshing, Shanghai, which brought $9,500.

 The top seller in the furniture offerings was a late 19th century Louix XV style ormolu mounted kingwood and satine parquetry decorated table  which sold very well for $16,600. Furthering the Louis XV style, was a gilt bronze and enamel decorated looking glass which achieved $6,000. Turning one century ahead, a Danish Has Wegner Papa Bear Char brought $7,800.

Rounding out this category was a fine Ethnographic Collection which included a Idoma, Nigeria carved wood figural sculpture that sold for $3,500.

Clars Auction Gallery’s next Fine Art, Jewelry and Decoratives Sale will be held on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, June 14th  through 16th. The sales will begin promptly at 9:30am on Saturday and Sunday and at 1:30pm on Monday. Previews for this sale will be held Friday, June 13th  from 1pm to 6pm and 9am each auction day and by appointment. A complete catalog will be available online one week prior to the sale.

 For more information and complete list of prices realized at Clars record May 2014 sale, please, visit, email: or call (510) 480-0100.

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