Natural History Sale Brings Over $1.1-Million at Bonhams & Butterfields in Los Angeles

Bonhams & Butterfields June 3, 2007 sale of Natural History in Los Angeles brought more than $1-million Sunday. The sale featured property from the collection of Tucson-based gem and mineral dealer Albert Jon ‘Zee’ Haag – one of the most significant private collections of natural wonders to be sold at auction for many decades, unique fossil specimens from other collections and highly desirable décor, mineral carvings, meteorites, gold and wearable art.

Featured works from the Haag Collection included: an illuminated quartz and wrought iron sculpture titled “The Goddess with the Golden Heart” designed by Haag and sold for $20,400; an impressive petrified wood tree stump sold above the high estimate for $19,200; a unique Burlwood tree root bench brought $6,600; a classic iron Campo del Cielo meteorite on customized stand from Gran Chaco, Argentina sold for $4,500 and a selection of unmounted gemstones, lapidary, rough cut gems, spheres, classic Arizona and international minerals, sculpture, fossils, meteorites and large-scale décor from across the globe also brought strong prices. The offering was comprised of approximately 60 works and specimens, featuring examples of Haag’s own design as well as pieces acquired by the Tucson-based collector.

The décor section was highlighted by an immense Smoky Quartz Specimen from the Govenador Valadares, Minas Gerais, Brazil prepared by Oregonian gemstone sculptor Lawrence Stoller. The present example exhibits completely natural texture, displays two points of deep amber/citrine color and, on some faces, the interesting surface pattern known as crocodile skin. It represents one of the very few specimens of the original discovery available on the market. Resting on an artful, custom-fitted bronze stand designed by Stoller, the work brought $60,000. According to Consulting Department Director Thomas Lindgren, “Works by Stoller could one day be sought after and collected with the same desire and fascination as Faberge eggs.

Each piece is a work of art that expresses the harmony of beauty found in nature.” Additional lots by Stoller from the June 3 sale include: “Down the Rabbit Hole” – a Large Drusy Quartz Geode on bronze stand (sold: $30,000) and a Shikhote Alin Meteorite on a custom base which sold above its high estimate for $32,400.

Highlighting the Lapidary Works of Art was a virtuoso flower study of very large scale, several times larger than creator Manfred Wild’s typical flower studies sold previously at Bonhams’ auctions. The work incorporates five separate stems, each with a different flower set – lilies and lilacs – in a removable rock crystal vase. The 18-inch study sold for $84,000.

Other featured works from the June 3 sale include: a 2-million year-old fossil of a now extinct species of Giant Armadillo (brought $36,000); a fantastic museum-quality Morganite specimen from the Urucum mine in Brazil (sold for $72,000); a magnificently aesthetic Woolly Mammoth Tusk on a custom wooden stand (brought $24,000); a very large 110.75-carat Melo pearl from Vietnam (sold for $34,800); a massive petrified wood log which surpassed its high estimate of $10,000, selling for $16,800; a 95.12-carat rare yellow sapphire from Sri Lanka (brought $42,000) and a suite of Aquamarine and freshwater pearl jewelry (sold for $25,200).

Bonhams & Butterfields’ Natural History auctions are the largest of their kind, both in terms of number of lots and overall estimated value. Each sale includes an extensive selection of distinctive mineral specimens, gold, lapidary works of art and gemstones & jewelry. Along with the exceptional offerings are numerous well-preserved fossils suitable for display (and for use in décor as wall art and sculpture).