The 2013 sales year was a triumph for Michaans Auctions
, raking in the companys highest annual gross to date at over $20 million. Asian antiques sales dominance was undoubtedly one of the most significant contributors to the impressive figure. The first Fine Asian Works of Art auction of the year was held on June 23rd to phenomenal sales results. Totaling over $4,545,000, it commanded the highest single auction figure ever achieved at Michaans. The total was due in large part to another phenomenon in its own right, listed as lot 3080 in the sale. An exceedingly rare and important soapstone figural carving centering Imperial porcelain kiln supervisor Tang Ying was far and away the star of the auction. Expectations ran high for the work of art, as it was the highest estimated lot of the sale at $100,000-150,000. Competition ran wild for the rendition of Tang Ying, with two online bidding stations taking note of frantic call activity pouring in from around the world. The piece came to sell for $2,235,000, becoming the highest selling Asian soapstone carving ever auctioned outside of Asia as well as Michaans highest single selling lot to date.
The list of successes marched on in the June Asian auction, with yet another record set by Li Yins Mountainous Dwellings (lot 3217, $25,000-35,000). The hanging scroll realized a world record-breaking price of $112,100, becoming the highest figure ever achieved at auction for a Li Yin work. Finely carved jades also dazzled bidders, with a steady stream of monumental prices. Two jade double gourd-form pendants performed amazingly well, as they sold for over 53 times the high estimate for $106,200 (lot 3027, $1,500-2,000). The pair of pendants topped a lengthy list of 15 additional carved jade lots to sell from anywhere from over 5 to 33 times projected high values.
Michaans follow-up sale of famed Tiffany masterworks from Japans Garden Museum Collection was their second highest grossing of the year at over $3,700,000. More than half of the May 18th auction lots exceeded high estimates, with many important works contributing to the handsome figure. A dozen Tiffany Studios lots sold within the hundreds of thousands, with top sellers seen in a Poinsettia chandelier (lot 2054, $220,000-250,000 sold for $306,800), a Wisteria table lamp commissioned for Mrs. Curtis Freschel (lot 2013, $175,000-250,000, sold for $283,200), a Laburnum lamp shade (lot 2036, $160,000-200,000, sold for $236,000) and a Poppy table lamp (lot 2021, $170,000-200,000, sold for $212,400). Mr. Allen Michaan, President and co-owner of Michaans Auctions, expressed his gratitude in bringing the Garden Museum Collection to the world marketplace yet again. It has been a great privilege to present these masterworks at Michaans Auctions. My admiration for the disciplines of Tiffany Studios is both a personal and professional passion, making this auction a very special honor. We also produced another significant reference work in the form of our auction catalog; a viable reference tool for years to come.
Asian works of art continued to rise with another fine sale closed Michaans 2013 auction schedule with a bang. The December 15th sale managed to gross $1,949,260 with an approximate 78% sell-through. A Qi Baishi painting titled Rabbits Under Osmanthus Tree (Tian Xiang) soared amongst phenomenal results, as the star lot commanded $383,500 (lot 5243, $50,000-70,000). The quintessential work was secured by a Shanghainese floor bidder at over 5 times its original high estimate. Asian Art Specialist Harry Huang reflected, Qi Baishi remains one of the most highly regarded names in the Asian antiquities marketplace; a definitive artist preferred by many collectors. The quality of the painting as well as a distinguished provenance from Mr. and Mrs. Lieutenant General Yu Pingtung made it an absolutely stellar piece at auction.
A Ruth Asawa tied wire sculpture sold in the December Fine Art, Furniture, Decorative Arts and Jewelry Auction set Michaans third record of the year. The sculpture became the highest selling Asawa wire wreath form sold at U.S. auction, realizing a price of $102,660 (lot 1059, $80,000-90,000). Michaans Twentieth Century Design Specialist Greg Favors was instrumental in bringing the piece to sale from its debut at a Michaans Auctions appraisal event. He remarked that, It has been a wonderful experience for me to be a part of securing such a quality piece for auction, from its original appraisal to the final sale at Michaans. Ruth Asawa has not only become a San Francisco legend, but a twentieth century design icon in her own right.
Jewelry remained a strong and consistent earner for yet another year at Michaans. The departments sales figures generally fell amongst the top three performers at auction throughout the year, highlighted by a banner sale in Michaans fine auction held on June 7, 2013. A substantial emerald, diamond, platinum and gold necklace brought the highest bid of the day after a lengthy bidding war. The necklace of an approximate 14.75 carat emerald was estimated at $60,000-80,000 and came to command $141,600 (lot 2594). Jewelry Department Director Rhonda Harness reflected on 2013 as a whole, stating, I am very proud of the strong customer relationships we have built with our clients. Both domestic and international bidders have come to rely on our department to present original, unusual, period and luxury items that wow at auction and I feel that we have pleased them. Im happy with our consistent client following and look forward to continuing these relationships as well as establishing new ones in 2014. With the amazing year that Asian antiques had, I was also fortunate to establish new jadeite jade, coral, diamond and luxury brand buyers from overseas.
The year was also one of steady growth for Michaans auction line-up as new sale categories were introduced. The Fine and Collectible Knives Auction premiered on September the 6th, showcasing 19th to 20th century English exhibition knives, American knives, dress pieces, WWII to Vietnam Era knives, KA-BAR knives and a plethora of antique folding knives. Michaans first dedicated Asian Decorative Arts auction debuted on October the 7th, meeting an over 89% sell-through of its 307 offered lots. February ushered in the partnership of Specialist Lee Jester and Michaans to form the first Arts and Crafts Department for the auction house. The Arts and Crafts auction on October the 11th followed, presenting pieces of uncompromised quality. An Arthur Mathews music sheet cabinet came to garner global attention at sale, realizing quite a respectable selling price of $212,400 (lot 3079, $180,000-220,000).
Mid-year President Allen Michaan announced that long standing Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Scott Bradley would become a shareholder in the company. The move towards shared ownership was due to Bradleys pivotal role and substantial contributions in building and establishing the auction house since its inception. Spectacular sales results, a marked increase in consignments and a broadened company exposure have all occurred during Bradleys consistent leadership, helping to further Michaans Auctions overall reach and revenue.
Michaans Auctions continued its community involvement in 2013 in both sales and program participation. Ms. Annie Li was an Enterprise for High School Students program participant placed at Michaans in 2013. Ms. Li assisted numerous departments with administrative tasks and used her Chinese language skills to aide clients as well. Enterprise for High School Students is a not for profit organization whose programs are open to all San Francisco high school students. Enterprise aims to prepare participants in need who may face barriers in their path to workplace success. The program originated at the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show in 1981 and counts among its partners the Gap Inc., Kaiser Permanente, The San Francisco Department of Recreation and Parks, The Olympic Club, Chevron Energy Solutions, Wells Fargo and PG&E.