On January 15th and 16th, Clars Auction Gallery
hosted their first sale of 2014 with very impressive results across the board realizing over $1.2 million, the largest January sale in the firms history. All departments soared with sell-through rates over 96%. The spotlight of this sale was the very important photography and prints Collection of David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg of Chicago. Prices realized on the works offered soared past estimates and set new world records. Numerous collectors and dealers from both coasts aggressively participated in the bidding making this one of the most successful photography auctions in a decade.
Rick Unruh, Vice President and Director of Fine Art at Clars, commented, The timing was right for this auction. Everyone who collects or sells photography was in on this sale either in person, by phone or on the Internet. We sold close to 98% of the lots offered - all well above their estimates. This spectacular collection was the passion of Mr. Ruttenberg which he carefully amassed for the latter half of the 20th century. Unruh went on to say, This truly was a very special collection in which both the artists and dealers knew Mr. Ruttenberg personally. You cant ask for better provenance that that! Over 300 lots of photographs were offered at Clars on January 16th featuring numerous works by Edward Steichen, Brett Weston, Wright Morris, Jerry Uelsmann, William Clift, Alfred Eisenstadt, Imogen Cunningham, Aaron Siskind, Berenice Abbott, Sandy Skoglund, Bill Brandt, Walker Evans, Margaret Bourke-White, Cecil Beaton, George Hurrell, Weegee, Danny Lyon, Kenneth Josephson, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Ralph Steiner, Clarence John Laughlin, Garry Winogrand, Barbara Morgan, Douglas Prince, Eikoh Hosoe, Brassai, Gyorgy Kepes, and many many more. Although almost all of these lots sold at (or substantially above) their estimates, the highest price achieved on the day from the Ruttenberg Collection was a large cibachrome print titled, Revenge of the Goldfish (1981), by Sandy Skoglund which fetched $20,230. Berenice Abbotts portfolio of photographs titled The Science Pictures soared past its $3000-5000 estimate to land at $7735. With an estimate of $1000-2000, Danny Lyons dramatic shot, Cell Block Table (1968), reached a new world record price of $3,867. As a whole, the six photographs by Wright Morris all exceeded expectation with one in particular, Gano Grain Elevator (1940), selling at $3,867, well beyond its $800 to $1,200 estimate.
Due to the enormous size of the Ruttenberg Collection (2000 art items), additional photographs, portfolios, prints and sculpture are scheduled to be sold at Clars in upcoming auctions.
DECORATIVE ARTS & FURNISHINGS
Decoratives Arts & Furnishings also had an exciting sale with one new world record set. Art Glass opened the event achieving over $100,000 in the first hour and setting a new world record. An Alfredo Barbini for Pauly Murano glass Aquarium Block, circa 1955, was expected to reach a high of $600. Extremely aggressive bidding quickly escalated the final selling price to a new world record for Barbini of $11,900, nearly doubling his previous high of 5,800.
The top seller in this category was a lot of twelve (12) German hand painted porcelain cabinet plates, late 19th century, from the Franz Xavier Tallmaier Studio. Expected to achieve a high of $6,000 this set sold for nearly four times high estimate at $22,610.
Also selling for almost twice its high estimate was a Georg Jensen sterling flatware service for twelve (12) in the Acorn pattern. Design by Johan Rodhe, 1915, this set sold for $11,900.
Weighing in at approximately 150 to 200 lbs., a very large collection of silver bullion including United States Morgan Dollars, Peace Dollars, Franklin and Kennedy half-dollars and pre-1964 coins was offered toward the end of the sale with the entire collection earning an impressive $75,000.
ASIAN ART & ANTIQUES
This category produced the top seller of the auction with a pot of Chinese hardstone Narcissus flowers, late Qing/early Republic period achieving an astounding $35,700.
In jades, the top seller was a pair of Qing dynasty jade belt hooks with meandering chilong which sold for $10,115. Scholars items also had great results including a gourd form cricket cage that hammered at $4,250.
FINE AND ESTATE JEWELRY
Jade performed exceptionally well in the Fine Jewelry offerings as well. A large jadeite (24.7 x 17mm) and 18k gold ring sold for an impressive $15,470.
A rare Rolex stainless steel chronograph wristwatch, Ref. 3858, circa 1947, achieved a solid $10,115.
Overall, the Jewelry Department experienced one of their strongest sell-through rates in the companys history.