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Lynda Benglis sculpture soars to $184,500 and two new records set on 20th century furniture at Clars
From artist and sculpture Lynda Benglis (American, b. 1941), Norseman, a stainless steel mesh and aluminum sculpture, soared soared to $184,500 achieving the third highest auction price for this artist.

OAKLAND, CA.- Sculpture and fine art, 20th Century Design and the Oceanic and Tribal Collection of Richard I.M. Kelton of Marina Del Rey, CA, were the star performers at Clars February 23rd auction. Realizing prices far beyond their estimates, this sale presented investment level works from private estates and museums that drew bidders from around the world.


The stainless steel mesh and aluminum sculpture titled Norseman by Lynda Benglis (American, b. 1941), flew past all presale expectations. Benglis is regarded as the pioneer in free-form sculpture who radically pushed the limits on this medium in the 1960s. Today, some 60 years later, she is still creating and, according to the August 16, 2019 story in the New York Times, she is more prolific that ever.

The demand for her abstract works was evident on February 23rd when Norseman was presented with an estimate of $40,000 – 60,000 but soared quickly to an amazing $184,500, securing the third highest price ever achieved for this artist at auction. In a statement by Rick Unruh, CEO and Director of Fine Art for Clars, he commented, “Yes, the Lynda Benglis sculpture was certainly a very pleasant surprise with numerous bidders in the US and Europe competing heavily for this work.”

Among the other solid performers in the Fine Art offerings was a wonderful acrylic on canvas by James Weeks (American, 1922-1998) titled Spring Morning which sold for $14,760.

The 1970 oil on canvas by Margaret Keane (American, b. 1927) titled Stranded, sold for nicely over estimate earning $14,760. This was followed by a woodblock print in colors by Gustave Bauman (American/German, 1881-1971) titled Corn Dance, Santa Clara that was expected to sell for $7,000 but surpassed that nicely going for $12,300.

A collection of assorted landscape and seascape paintings by Karl Schmidt (American, 1890-1962), sold to benefit the Oakland Museum of California, had a 100% sell through bringing well over $30,000 on the day.

And finally, a rare, glazed ceramic plate by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) titled Bright Dove, sold for an impressive $16,640 making it the third highest record price for this particular Madoura edition by the artist from 1953.

Collectors and aficionados of 20th Century Design took note of the exceptional offerings that were offered at this sale. A collection of furniture designed by Mira Nakashima and her legendary furniture-maker father, George Nakashima, was well received indeed and bidders came out to buy. Overall, the nine Nakashima lots offered achieved over $135,000 with the top seller being a George Nakashima for Widdicomb even-arm sofa executed in walnut that sold very well for $24,600. Not to be outdone by her father, a Conoid bench designed by Mira Nakashima soared to over three times its high estimate selling for $23,370 and setting a new world record.

Exceptional prices in 20th Century Design were not only reserved for the Nakashimas. An Isamu Noguchi for Herman Miller rudder coffee table flew past high estimate selling for $19,680. A Finn Juhl for Baker Chieftain chair sold for $11,685 - a new world record for a Baker example.

Turning to the Oceanic and Tribal Collection of Richard I.M. Kelton, collectors of this genre come out in force as well. Overall, the second installment of this collection earned over $70,000 with the top seller, and a definite pleasant surprise, being a South Coast Papua New Guinea shoulder shield flying well over high estimate among competitive bidding. Expected to achieve $6,000 – 8,000, the shoulder shield sold for almost four times high estimate for $30,750.

Rounding out the highlights in this category was a Reed and Barton flatware service in the Love Disarmed pattern (109 pieces) that sold for $14,760. A Tiffany Studios New York damascene and patinated bronze floor lamp also performed well selling for $7,380.

The February Jewelry sale at Clars Auction Gallery was a huge success with 84% of lots being sold. The top seller was a ruby, diamond and 18k white gold necklace that achieved $18,450.

Another highlight was the whimsical Cartier agate, diamond, sapphire, coral and 18k yellow gold crowned duck brooch. There was active bidding on the phones, in the room and on-line. The brooch finally sold for $12,300 to a phone bidder, surpassing its pre-sale estimate of $6,000-9,000.

Diamonds also had a very strong showing at the evening sale. A dazzling diamond and platinum bracelet in the Art Deco style, sold for $8,610 and a 58-inch diamond and 18k white gold necklace with 73 full-cut diamonds with a total diamond weight of 8.25 carats sold for $4,300.

Finally, the sale was rounded out by a strong showing inn the pearl lots. A market that has been fairly soft lately is obviously having a resurgence with many of the lots surpassing their estimates. Highlights included a fabulous South Sea cultured pearl, diamond and 18k white gold necklace selling for $4,300. A gorgeous Henry Dunay, South Sea cultured pearl, diamond and platinum bracelet sold for $3,075 and a pair of South Sea cultured pearl diamond and white gold convertible earrings went off for for $2,900.

Asian Art and Antiques had its share of surprises at well at this sale. A Chinese Nephrite Jade lidded vase was offered for $2,000 – 3,000 but more than tripled its estimate earning $9,225.

Also flying to over 7 times its estimate was lot of two Chinese ceramic wares, one a Ge-style lobbed bowl, the other a cong vase. Expected to sell for $500, this set achieved $6,150.

Concluding the highlights for this category was a large Chinese metal-alloy incense burner that sold for over estimate for $6,765.

Clars next Fine Art, Decorative Art, Furniture, Jewelry and Asian Art Auction will be held on Saturday and Sunday, March 21 and 22, 2020. Previews will be held Friday, March 20th from 1pm – 6pm and 9am each auction day. The sales will begin promptly at 9:30am on Saturday and Sunday.

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