Bonhams is to present its Fine European Furniture, Decorative Arts and Garden Ornaments auction, March 18 at Bonhams in San Francisco, with many strong highlights of local provenance among its nearly 450 lots of offerings. The leading highlight of the auction, a Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted grand piano from a Hillsborough, Calif., home (est. $60,000-80,000) is no exception.
The piano has a rich history, having been made by Steinway in New York in 1924 and then shipped to the famous Paris firm of L. Alavoine et Compagnie who commissioned the case marquetry and bronze mounts that took one year to complete. The piano is believed to have once been part of the furnishings of the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC. In 1938, Ralph Morrison, the owner of the St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, is said to have purchased the piano from the embassy for the staggering sum of $38,000 and installed it in the hotel lobby where it remained until 1990. At that point, the piano was moved to a personal residence in Hillsborough, Calif. It stayed there until recently and is now being offered at auction by Bonhams.
Another window into local past will be offered in the form of a cased builders’ model of the SS Robert Dollar, of the Dollar Line, built by Rodger & Co, circa 1920 (est. $25,000-35,000). Scottish immigrant Robert Dollar (1844-1932) is well known for having owned a fleet of vessels used to ship goods along the Pacific Coast. He started out an immigrant in Canada, operating lumber companies, and later began to acquire vessels to move his lumber. Starting in 1888, he became a resident of San Rafael, Calif., and in 1910, he built the San Francisco-based headquarters of the Dollar Steamship Company. His fleet was a common local sight, and he was also respected for his philanthropy.
Offerings of property from the estate of Bruce L. Jones Jr., (1928-2012) Carmel, Calif., will also be highlighted in the auction. Mr. Jones was a well-known Carmel resident, who lived in Paris after WWII and was part of the Rothschild family circle. Mr. Jones later moved to Carmel, took up residence in an ocean-side estate, and operated the famous Rocky Point Restaurant that became popular there. He filled his home with early works of art, Spanish and Italian sculpture of the 16th/17th century and Renaissance furniture. Bonhams is proud to now offer items from his estate, including a 16th century, Spanish polychrome and gilt decorated carved wood relief panel (est. $4,000-6,000); a 17th century, Spanish Baroque polychrome and gilt decorated carved wood figure of a bishop (est. $4,000-6,000); and a late 16th/early 17th century, Italian late Renaissance walnut credenza with provenance from San Simeon, William Randolph Hearst Collection (est. $4,000-6,000).
The sale’s illustrated catalog will be available online in the weeks preceding the sale at http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20902/.