Published: April 25, 2023
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photo Courtesy Clars Auction Gallery
OAKLAND, CALIF. – In the span of two days, April 14-15, Clars Auction Gallery presented three sessions of design, jewelry and timepieces, fine and decorative arts, furniture and Asian works of art. With an exact 1,529 lots, the house earned $1.3 million in sales and the company’s president and chief executive officer, Rick Unruh, was tired but happy after the auctions closed.
“We were very pleased with our results from our Spring Fine Jewelry & Timepieces sale. That auction total was around $450,000 sold, with one exceptional pearl necklace being one of the highlights, selling well above its estimate.”
Wearing his specialist hat as the director for fine art, Unruh was particularly pleased with how the fine art section performed. “Clars now has the top three world auction records for Croatian artists Vladimir Becic and Vladimir Varlaj, which makes us the dominant US auction house in this category.”
He was referencing two paintings, one each by Becic (1886-1954) and Varlaj (1895-1962), which were offered consecutively and achieved $47,250 and $50,400, respectively. The result for Varlaj’s “Mountain of Klek” set a new world auction record for the artist, while that for Becic’s “Landscape Bosnia, II” was just shy of the artist’s current record, established at $49,200 by Clars in 2019. Interestingly, both paintings had a long shared provenance: the Carl Hamilton collection and the collection of the Anglo & London Paris National Bank in San Francisco before being acquired in the 1930s by Mr and Mrs Milton D. Redford. The paintings came to Clars, presumably from a Redford descendant, now living in Orinda, Calif. Despite intense online international competition, the two paintings were acquired by the same buyer, a phone bidder from Croatia.
Also earning $47,250 was “Sentinel Peak” by Maynard Dixon (American, 1875-1946), which exceeded expectations and sold to a West Coast phone bidder who prevailed over online competition to win the dated 1941 oil on Masonite landscape.
The furniture department reported a strong sale overall, with exceptional pieces bringing strong prices, evidenced by the $31,500 realized by an Italian micromosaic decorated foyer table, the circular top of which was cataloged as possibly Nineteenth Century and depicted the doves of Pliny, after Sosus of Pergamon from Hadrian’s Villa, surrounded by six detailed architectural Roman scenes, including the Colosseum, St Peters Square and the Pantheon, all on a giltwood base. According to Cristina Campion, associate director of Twentieth Century design, furniture and decorative arts, it came from a prominent San Francisco and New York estate and sold to “a prominent and historically significant San Francisco family.”
A notably strong result of $17,640 was achieved by an Egyptian polychrome decorated sarcophagus cover head that came to Clars from the Santa Barbara, Calif., estate of film actress Joanna Barnes and architect Jack Warner. Acquired from New York City gallery Kamloops in 1977, the head was described at the time as being about 2,300 years old and in good condition despite some cracks and losses to the plaster.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. Clars will sell Fine and Rare Wine on May 11 and Modern and Contemporary Art and Design on June 15. For information, 510-428-0100, 888-339-9917 or www.clars.com.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm