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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Bonhams & Butterfields Furniture Auction Shows Strength in Private Collections

Auctioneers Bonhams & Butterfields capped off a strong year of fine European and American furniture and decorative arts sales in San Francisco on Dec. 7, 2009 with its $1.6-million auction comprising property from San Francisco private collectors, trusts and foundations and estates.

The December fine European and American furniture & decorative arts auction featured several impressive collections, including property of Dr. Don Van Derby and the late Don B. Liles whose historic 1887 San Francisco Victorian house was meticulously restored, lavishly furnished and published in several books. Top lot of the collection sold for $11,590 – a late 19th century Louis XVI style gilt bronze three-piece clock garniture by F. Barbedienne of Paris. Paintings, furniture, lighting fixtures and decorative arts from this historic house attracted competitive bids, an oil on canvas by John Wood, Ophelia, doubled its estimate to sell for $7,320. A delightful set of six German 19th century carved ivory musicians brought $6,100.

Property from the private collection of Corinthian Studios’ owners Bob Kongsli and Vern Halcomb was a highlight of the December sale. The gentlemen had met in 1954 and established an antiques business in Saratoga, CA, building a following with clients from Europe, the Middle East, Japan, and throughout the U.S. They’d retired in 1984 to a 36,000 square foot Mediterranean villa before returning to the United States several years ago. Described by the auctioneers as “astute collectors,” their business became a reliable resource for works by the great ebenistes Linke, Beurdeley and Paul Sormani, among others.

International interest was strong at Bonhams for an important Sormani commode from their collection. The Louis XV style gilt bronze and coramandel lacquer-mounted commode sold for $122,000. A French gilt bronze and enameled fish bowl and stand, late 19th century, sold for $85,400, more than five times its pre-sale estimate. The five-foot high bowl and elaborate stand includes depictions of turtles, elephant heads and dragons in bronze. A pair of French 950 standard silver four light candelabra in the Louis XVI taste sold $25,620 while a rare Austrian Neoclassical regulator clock signed Joseph Mayr, Pesth, brought $17,080.

Americana included several examples of Herter furniture from the Warner Bros. Studios collection, including pieces from the Mark Hopkins residence on Nob Hill and several lots originally in place at Thurlow Lodge, the Milton Slocum Latham residence in Menlo Park, CA. A set of 12 circa 1872 Renaissance Revival carved oak dining chairs had previously sold in the Bonhams salesrooms (then Butterfield & Butterfield) in 1942 stemming from the Estate of Mary K Hopkins. The set sold for $14,640 at the December 7th auction. A fine Renaissance Revival carved oak console from the collection, originally in place in the Latham family dining room, sold for $13,420, carved with hounds, the en suite fireplace mantel from the Lodge, also executed by Gueret Freres, Paris, is now within the collection of the H.M. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco.

The next San Francisco offering of fine European furniture and decorative arts comes to auction at Bonhams & Butterfields on February 28 featuring the third and final selections from the Antonio and Liliane Mariane Collection of European Furniture and Decorative Arts (see related post-sale releases at

Prices realized in the December sale will remain online with the illustrated auction catalog. Visit The catalog for the January 2010 sale will be posted to the website in the coming weeks.