The Antonio and Liliane Mariani Collection at Bonhams & Butterfields in March

  • SAN FRANCISCO, California
  • /
  • February 18, 2009

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“The rare, the unique, the exquisite…”

Important European & English Furniture, Decorative Arts & Paintings from Antonio’s Antiques, San Francisco

Fine arts and antiques auctioneers Bonhams & Butterfields is pleased to announce it will offer property from the collections of Antonio and Liliane Mariani, owners of the well-respected Antonio’s Antiques, in a single-owner 400-lot auction to be held in its San Francisco salesrooms on Monday, March 2, 2009. Strong international collector interest is expected as the Mariani’s firm boasted a “Who’s Who” of clients and the Bonhams’ sale will comprise a selection of highly desirable 17th, 18th and 19th century pieces.

“Antonio’s Antiques,” according to Bonhams & Butterfields Vice President Jeffrey 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. This sale will offer some of the finest highlights of the Antonio’s collection reflecting rarity, connoisseurship, and centuries of beautiful design.

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. The San Francisco Chronicle’s “Social Scene” column on February 2, 1985 was dedicated to reporting on the launch party for Antonio’s new three-story Bryant Street warehouse. Reporter Pat Steger made special notes on the attendance of Clint Eastwood and Sandra Locke -- they arrived in San Francisco via private jet and were one of the last couples to leave the stylish event.

The collection will open for preview at Bonhams & Butterfields on February 27th, continuing through March 2, the day of the auction. Collectors, connoisseurs and designers will have the unique opportunity to bid on exquisite pieces from the Mariani Collection.

Highlights include a superb late 17th century Brussels garden tapestry (est. $30/45,000); a pair of George III terrestrial and celestial globes (est. $15/25,000); an unusual George III giltwood wall clock (est. $10/15,000); very fine early 19th century Russian gilt bronze chandelier (est. $35/50,000); and an important early 18th century Louis XIV boullework marquetry commode (est. $70/90,000).

The superb Italian offerings stem from Northern Italy to Sicily, including: an important Sicilian 18th century engraved mirror depicting a masqued ball figure, as well as a magnificent Venetian engraved mirror depicting Apollo and Roman emperors (estimates for each $35/50,000); a suite of Italian rococo seating furniture with Spreckels family provenance (est. $18/25,000); a very important Venetian rococo cabinet, mid-18th, century, with the Barberini family provenance (est. $60/80,000); a marvelous Spanish Renaissance figure of the Madonna, 16th century, deaccessioned from the Metropolitan Museum; a very rare and important set of eight northern Italian rococo giltwood armchairs (est. $60/80,000); a rare 16th century apothecary jar (est. $8/12,000); and of special interest to collectors, a pair of George III giltwood candelabra from the Estate Michael Taylor (est. $6/8,000).

Forty European painting and drawings will be offered including examples by Pierre Bout, Alfred de Neuville, Johann Halszel, Archibald Webb and Bartholomeus Assteyn. The sale will also include a number of lots of Asian art including carved ivories, export porcelain and Chinese furniture.

The illustrated auction catalog will be posted online for review at For more information on the Bonhams & Butterfields Furniture and Decorative Arts Dept. and its sales, please visit:

Levi Morgan

About Bonhams

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 (01-08) For other press releases, go to

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