Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

The Art Collection of Heller Ehrman LLP to be Offered at Auction by Bonhams & Butterfields in San Francisco

Bonhams & Butterfields is pleased to offer artwork from the Heller Ehrman LLP Collection in its San Francisco salesroom on Monday, February 8, 2010. More than 340 works of art from the 118-year-old international law firm, founded and headquartered in San Francisco, will be offered to bidders, including paintings, prints, photography and sculpture. Heller Ehrman LLP closed its doors in September of 2008.

Dale ChihulyThe works offered in this sale were collected over many decades. Emanuel Heller, a director at the California School of Fine Arts, had installed paintings from his own collection within the firm’s offices.

Over the ensuing years, the firm continued to support the arts and worked with noted art consultants, galleries and local artists to expand its collections. Ultimately, the firm amassed more than 600 works displayed in more than a dozen offices worldwide.

In recent decades, Heller Ehrman acquired art that reflected both the firm’s heritage and its global presence. Although the firm did not focus on any particular time period or geographic area, its staff instead collected work in a variety of media by leading and emerging international artists. Each of the firm’s offices also actively sought out works by artists in the Bay Area, Seattle, New York or Southern California, and supported their local art communities by commissioning art for the firm’s public spaces.

The firm’s entire collection is being offered in a series of upcoming Bonhams sales — including Prints, Photographs, and the auctioneer’s “Made in California: Contemporary Art” auction this spring.

The select first installment of art work from its collection came to auction in November 2009 at the Bonhams New York salesroom. Strong prices were realized for several Robert Kelly oils from the artist’s 2006 “Assemblage Rouge” series, and prices also exceeded estimates for oils, a bronze, and several works on paper by other artists.

The public exhibit and previews for the Heller Ehrman LLP Collection open in San Francisco on Friday, February 5th, continuing daily through the weekend. The auction on Monday, Feb. 8th is expected to attract bids from collectors across the globe. Highlights for February’s auction include oils, acrylics and watercolors, photography, lithographs, ceramics, hand-blown glass and works in metal and stone.

Collectors will vie for a half-dozen desirable blown-glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly, including examples from the renowned artist’s “Macchia” and “Persian” series, estimates ranging from $3,000 to $7,000. Several lots comprise 2003 works by Nancy Mee comprising glass, metal and stone, offered with estimates from $3,000 to $5,000. An interesting 40-inch high wood sculpture by the British artist David Nash is titled Rip Cut Stack, expected to sell for $5/7,000. Another large work in wood is by Steve Jensen, titled Fishnet, 2000, estimated at $3/5,000.

Paintings feature Lloyd Martin’s oil on canvas Firestrae (34), signed and dated in 2006 (est. $3/5,000) as well as Kew by Peter Waite, a 1991 work comprising acrylic on six plastic panels, estimated to bring $2,000 to $4,000. Artist’s depictions of Chicago, New York’s Times Square and Chrysler Building, and of San Francisco join abstracts, landscapes, beach scenes and portraiture.

Photographs include an interesting collection of images of San Francisco by Mark Klett. Klett’s Panorama of San Francisco, from California Street Hill, features eight framed gelatin silver prints (est. $1,000/2,000). In 1990, Klett followed the circa 1878 steps of photographer Eadweard Muybridge who’d climbed to the top of California Street to make a 360-degree panorama of the city with his cumbersome wooden view camera. Mark Klett revisited the idea with Panorama of San Francisco; his goal was to match Muybridge’s photographs –something no longer possible from the same spot given the skyline that blossomed during the century that passed between the two projects.

A collection of ten signed and framed gelatin silver prints by Michael Burns, Studio Views, 1978, could bring as much as $2,500 while Scenes of Italy, 2001, a set of six gelatin silver prints by Bruce Byers, could sell for as much as $900. Several lots comprise Cibachrome prints – values for these color photos range from $300 to $600.

The illustrated auction catalog for the February sale will be online for review and purchase at in the weeks preceding the exhibition. The auction previews open at Bonhams & Butterfields in San Francisco on Friday, Feb. 5, 2010.

Image: Lot 57 Dale Chihuly (American, born 1941) Radiant Persian Pair, 2003 (2) 8 x 11 x 10in height with base 9 1/4in Estimate: $4,000 – 6,000