Highly Successful Mariani Collection, Sold in Three Sales at Bonhams & Butterfields, Totals More than $5-Million

  • SAN FRANCISCO, California
  • /
  • March 09, 2010

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The top lot brought $36,600, five times the estimate, on March 1st for this mid-18th c. Louis XV Lyonnais chinoiserie carved walnut commode.
Bonhams & Butterfields

Bonhams & Butterfields’ March 1st 2010 San Francisco auction of property from the collections of Antonio and Lillian Mariani, owners of the well-respected San Francisco firm Antonio’s Antiques, brought more than $1,750,000, marking the third and final installment of auctions which garnered a total of more than $5-million for more than 1,300 examples of superb Continental and English furniture and decorative arts. 


Bonhams & Butterfields specialists remarked on how well-received the series of auctions, begun in March of 2009, have been.  “Each sale," said Jeffrey Smith, VP and Director of Furniture & Decorative Arts sales at Bonhams, “brought to our salesrooms long-time friends of Liliane Mariani and the late Antonio Mariani, international dealers, noted collectors and members of the design world.  They came both to acquire wonderful period and custom pieces, as well as to honor the legacy established by Antonio’s Antiques.” 


“Antonio’s Antiques,” said Smith, “was one of the driving forces that established San Francisco’s Jackson Square as a destination for antiques collectors and interior designers from across the country and the globe.  It’s been an honor to work with Mrs. Mariani and her long-time staff and associates.”


“There may never again be - under one roof in the US - a group of such talented restorers, conservators and artisans as found at Antonio’s Antiques,” says Gary Espinosa, VP and Director of Appraisals at Bonhams.  


The March 2010 offering included strong prices paid for tables, cabinets, commodes and desks, several with chinoiserie or japanned decoration.  Top lot of the day sold for $36,600, five times the estimate, paid for a good mid-18th century Louis XV Lyonnais chinoiserie carved walnut commode.  A George I ebonized and chinoiserie lacquered desk brought $15,250.  As well, an early 18th century Queen Anne parcel gilt japanned secretary tripled its estimate to bring $15,860. 


Other highlights of the English furniture section included an Irish George II mahogany vitrine (brought $25,620), and designers competed for a 19th century English elm refectory table with a massive rectangular top (brought $24,400) and for a George II parcel gilt walnut mirror of interest to Americana collectors (sold for $20,740, four times the estimate).


French furniture and decorative arts proved to be the favorite and most successful section, including competitive bidding for an assembled pair of Louis XIV walnut and tapestry upholstered fauteuils (sold for $18,300, three times the estimate).  A pair of good Louis XVI style cut glass and gilt bronze 16-light chandeliers also sold above estimate, bringing $23,180.


A large Italian Baroque walnut libreria cabinet, late 17th/early 18th century, sold above estimate for $30,500 and a handsome pair of 19th century Neapolitan Italian parcel gilt and paint decorated figural torcheres, each nearly five-feet high, sold for $13,420. 


Recapping the Auctions - Parts I and II


Property from the collections of Antonio and Liliane Mariani, offered to bidders on Monday, March 2, 2009, totaled more than $1.7-million.  Among the top ten lots sold were several Italian mirrors and a pair of elaborate chandeliers.  Bringing $36,600 was a fine Louis XVI style gilt bronze and rock crystal 18-light chandelier, the late 19th century piece featuring eagle head finials and a central column of facet cut glass.  The lot had been acquired by the Marianis at a Bonhams auction in 2005.  Another bidder paid $28,670 for a five-foot high Italian Neoclassical giltwood, iron, tole and glass 12-light chandelier which doubled its pre-sale estimate.


The Mariani name continued to draw admirers and collectors on November 2, 2009, this sale bringing more than $1.6-million.  Top lot of the Fall sale was a fine South German Baroque style figured walnut secretary which sold for $52,460, more than five times the pre-auction estimate.  Bidders vied for a fine and impressive Louis XV style gilt bronze and glass 12-arm chandelier (sold above estimate for $42,700), while a Louis XVI style gilt bronze and brass mounted circular mahogany dining table with four brass-mounted extra leaves doubled its estimate, selling for $31,720. 


Illustrated auction catalogs for the Mariani collection remain online with prices realized at www.bonhams.com/us.  Sale schedules for upcoming Bonhams auctions of furniture and decorative arts can be reviewed at the website, the next offering of European and American furniture and decorative arts is set for Bonhams & Butterfields Los Angeles on 29 March. 



Press Contact:   Levi Morgan, PR.US@bonhams.com, 415-503-3348





About Antonio’s Antiques

Antonio Mariani first arrived in San Francisco from Italy in the late 1950s.  He was 20-years old and had, since the age of five, been trained in restoring antiques by his father, a cabinetmaker who ran a shop in the small Southern Italian town of Taranto.  Mr. Mariani, who passed away in 2007, first worked as a restorer at the de Young Museum and soon established his own restoration business in San Francisco.  Early in his career, the daughter of winemaker Julio Gallo commissioned him to refurnish the Gallo estate with period antiques. 


Within a short time Antonio began a meteoritic rise to become one of the most respected antique dealers and restorers in the world and an irreplaceable part of San Francisco’s creative community.  Liliane and Antonio traveled extensively throughout the world personally finding wonderful examples of period furnishings and were seen together bidding at the major international auction houses as well as the regional auction houses in Europe and the United States.  Italian furniture and decorative arts were always their true passion but they were equally excited by other European decorative arts and the Italian examples stood side by side with great French, English and Continental pieces in their collection.  By the late 1960s they were employing some of the most talented restorers, glass blowers, gilders, master carvers, textile restorers and conservators.


By the mid-1980s, Antonio’s Antiques maintained a multi-million dollar inventory and a stellar client list, with multiple locations in the city. 



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).


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