The cultural arts scene in the San Francisco Bay Area was celebrated in early February, including a series of exhibits and events in Marin and ‘The City,’ and an auction of African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art at Bonhams & Butterfields on 12 Feb. 2010. The successful auction brought aggressive bids from an international client base, with Maori nephrite pendants and rare Hawaiian wooden objects exceeding their pre-auction estimates.
The Bonhams auction totaled more than $500,000 and was the first sale coordinated by Fred Backlar, Director of the Tribal Art Dept. at Bonhams & Butterfields. He said, “We are very pleased with the auction’s results. There was competitive bidding both in the salesroom and on the telephones from American and international buyers. We are particularly pleased with the results for the Oceanic art, with many lots selling for well-beyond their estimates. We witnessed that the demand remains strong for entry-level works of good quality and at the right price.”
Top selling lots included a pair of nephrite Maori pendants. A desirable four-inch long finely carved Maori nephrite neck pendent, hei tiki, collected in the 1850s from the Rotorua area, North Island of New Zealand, was estimated at $8/12,000. Competitive bidding included action from several clients on telephones and several in the salesroom, the lot ultimately selling for $45,750. Another Maori nephrite neck pendant, this example collected in the 1940s, nearly doubled its estimate, selling for $11,590.
The auction featured: masks; tools and weapons; decorations; figures and vessels; adornments and jewelry. Multiple lots on offer held significant exhibition and publication history, as well as noted provenance from important private collections. A 23-inch long Tapuanu gable mask, Satawan Atoll, Mortlock Islands, was of interest to collectors. The mask had been presented to a Belgian missionary by a Chief from Lukunor Island prior to World War II, most recently a part of an important West Coast collection. The mask sold for $33,550 (est. $6/8,000).
A leader within the sale’s African art section was a Yaure mask from the Ivory Coast (brought $9,150), as well, a Bamana mask from Mali sold within estimate for $8,540. The auction’s Pre-Columbian section featured an Early Classic (circa 250-450AD) Veracruz seated male figure illustrated in an important reference book on pre-Columbian art of Mexico and Central America. The two-foot high figure doubled its estimate to bring $20,740. Bidders also vied for a rare Taino wood effigy bowl from Santo Domingo, this seven-inch long vessel dating from 1200-1500AD (sold for $15,860).
The sale opened with Oceanic art, including a number of Hawaiian objects. A large and wide Hawaiian kou wood bowl, pakaka, had been owned by a well-respected German farmer who’d relocated to Hawaii in the 1850s. The bowl, 15-inches wide and five-inches high, brought $9,150, exceeding its estimate. A collector paid $10,370 for an extremely fine and large Hawaiian tapa beater, just over 16-inches long. Described by the auctioneers as potentially unique given its intact exceedingly rare original olana strings, a Hawaiian kauila wood musical bow, ukeke, sold for $8,540. The bow had been, prior to the 1880s, within the Theo H. Davies Collection, later within the Leo & Lillian Fortress Collection.
The next African, Oceanic & Pre-Columbian Art sale is scheduled to take place at Bonhams New York on May 13, 2010. Early highlights include African art form the estate of an important Los Angeles collector including an important Dan mask formerly in the collection of Saul & Marsha Stanoff and a rare and important Bamana Ntomo mask which was exhibited in the 1986 exhibition “A human ideal in African art : Bamana figurative sculpture.” Oceanic highlights include a group of early and rare Hawaiian art and the Pre-Columbian section will feature a large and impressive Aztec stone hacha (axe-head) in the form of a bird.
The illustrated auction catalog for the Feb. 12th sale will remain online for review at www.bonhams.com/us.
Press Contact: Levi Morgan, PR.US@bonhams.com, 415-503-3348
Notes for Editors
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son and Neale UK. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street, and Knightsbridge, and a further five throughout the UK. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Boston in the USA; Toronto, Canada; and France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Dubai. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 57 specialist areas. By the end of 2009, Bonhams had become UK market leaders in ten key specialist collecting areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, go to www.bonhams.com (Feb. 2010).
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son and Neale UK. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America and in August 2003, Goodmans, a leading Australian fine art and antiques auctioneer with salerooms in Sydney, joined the Bonhams Group of Companies. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street, and Knightsbridge, and a further seven throughout the UK. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Boston in the USA; and Switzerland, France, Monaco, Australia, Hong Kong and Dubai. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 57 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, go to www.bonhams.com. (01-08) For other press releases, go to www.bonhams.com/press.