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Estate of Television and Business Pioneer Maria Helen Smith Brings More than $3-Million at Bonhams & Butterfields
The marquee lot from the Smith Estate was a handsome Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted kingwood bureau plat and cartonnier (est. $80,000-120,000, sold for $158,000). Photo: Bonhams & Butterfields.
LOS ANGELES, CA.- Bonhams & Butterfields was pleased to offer the Estate of Maria Helen Smith, San Diego, California during the auctions of Classic California: Important Motorcycles, Motorcars and Related Memorabilia, Sunset Estate and a single-owner sale. Assembled over the course of a lifetime, the Collection features a diverse group of 19th century works with a focus on the European and Asian aesthetic.

The Fall sales included a discerning selection of rare pieces by renowned makers such as Francois Linke, Paul Sormani and Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener, as well as beautiful examples of jewelry, couture and motoring excellence. The Los Angeles sales brought more than $3-million dollars to become several of Bonhams & Butterfields most successful auctions to date.

"Bonhams & Butterfields was pleased to offer works from the Estate of Maria Helen Smith during the Fall of 2010. The single-owner sale attracted a crowd of more than 200 people in the Los Angeles saleroom. In addition to the standing room only gallery, numerous phone and absentee bids from the Middle East, China, Russia, Canada, England, France and across Europe, were seen. Fierce bidding was observed throughout all sections of the sale for 19th century European furniture and decorative arts, with many of the items on offer far surpassing their initial pre-sale estimates. The firm is pleased to announce that the Estate was nearly 100% sold," said Andrew Jones, Los Angeles Director of European Furniture and Decorative Arts at Bonhams & Butterfields.

The marquee lot from the Smith Estate was a handsome Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted kingwood bureau plat and cartonnier (est. $80,000-120,000, sold for $158,000). Created by two of the leading cabinetmakers from the Belle Époque period, Francois Linke and Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener, the unusual asymmetrical bureau plat is surmounted by the cartonnier with fitted leather drawers and impressive figural mounts.

Additional highlights from the single-owner sale included an impressive Napoleon III porcelain and gilt bronze mounted onyx table de milieu, third quarter 19th century (est. $30,000-50,000, sold for $79,300); a suite of three French gilt bronze surtout de table, late 19th century (est. $15,000-20,000, sold for $79,300); a Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted and marquetry inlaid walnut commode by Paul Sormani, after a model by Bernard van Risenburgh, fourth quarter 19th century (est. $70,000-100,000, sold for $73,200) and a gilt bronze mounted kingwood and walnut Erard grand piano attributed to François Linke, 1919 (est. $30,000-50,000, sold for $57,950).

Also of note was a 1958 Bentley Flying Spur Saloon offered on November 13th during the firm's annual Classic California auction at the Petersen Museum (est. $70,000-90,000, sold for $130,200). The model has been synonymous with effortless high speed cruising in the grand manner since its introduction in R-Type form in 1952. The highly sought after vehicle boasted original California black license plates and showed a mere 55,000 miles from new.

Highlights from the Sunset Estate auction included a pair of Chinese carved hardwood horseshoe back armchairs (est. $400-600, sold for $24,400); a collection of 14k gold necklaces and bracelets (est. $15,000-20,000, sold for $14,030); a Continental tapestry panel depicting a wedding scene (est. $800-1,200, sold for $13,420) and a collection of 14k gold flexible bracelets (est. $6,500-7,500, sold for $10,980).

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