Archive for the 'Auctions' Category


Buying Art at Auction Instead of a Gallery

Auctions are typically a wonderful way to access artworks from private and institutional collections that have a known provenance. However, not all auctions and art auctioneers are created equal, and there are many factors that make purchasing art at auction different from buying out of a commercial gallery.

The Ability to Plan

With commercial galleries and even at art fairs, buyers may not know in advance what the dealer has available or what additional inventory he or she may have. An auction, on the other hand, allows purchasers to plan and research potential pieces of interest in advance. Art auctioneers publish catalogs of upcoming sales and the items included, so that potential buyers will be able to make a plan before attending the sale.

The Buyer’s Premium

Depending on the auction platform, buyers will likely be responsible for paying an additional fee—or buyer’s premium—that will be a percentage of the final hammer price. Sometimes these amounts are set percentages while other houses may cap premiums at a certain amount, particularly when handling high value sales.

A Central Marketplace

Particularly in art, auctions can serve as a transparent marketplace for purchasers. While commercial galleries may never release sales figures, auction houses will typically post the information publicly following a sale.

At the same time, it can be impossible to figure out what budgets a gallery caters to without knowing each artist’s individual market, so an auction may allow purchasers of all budgets access to a range of works across different styles.

Research Resources

Since art auctioneers publish catalogs before sales, potential buyers have the opportunity to do in-depth research on the artists or work they are interested in. This may mean accessing an online database to see past sales history, or talking with professionals in the art field about the specifics of a piece.

Furthermore, works at auction will typically come with appraisals and provenance details for each work. This allows purchasers both before and after a sale to know how long the work has been available, where it has been shown, and any prominent collections or institutions it has been part of.


How Auction Houses Help Heirs Deal With the Contents of an Inherited Home

When a loved one passes away, it is typically left up to the heirs and/or the executor of an estate to determine what should be done with the contents of a home. This can be a very emotionally wrenching and difficult task. Homes, especially those of the elderly, often contain thousands of items and while many items will probably end up being worthless, there is always the chance that other things could potentially be worth a lot of money.

On the other hand, there are also items in a home that may seem valuable to an heir that may in reality have little to no value. For example, the deceased may have left a set of chairs that the heirs have always been told were Chippendale and possibly worth tens of thousands of dollars. Yet, when the heirs try to sell them, they learn that the chairs are merely cheap reproductions.

So how should a person go about determining what items in an estate are actually valuable and what may be worthless? If there is the possibility that the home may contain valuable antiques, the heirs may want to consider hiring a professional auction house to come to the house to appraise the contents. They will have the expertise to determine whether or not an heir has inherited treasures or trash.

Even estates that may seem to contain nothing of value may hold surprisingly valuable items. For example, in 2000, a man purchased two boxes of glass plates containing images of Yosemite National Park for $45 at a garage sale. Those plates later tuned out to be negatives take by iconic American photographer Ansel Adams and were estimated to be worth $200 million. Sadly, the original owner of the plates lost out on making any real money on these treasures. Money they might have been able to keep for themselves if they had just hired an auction appraiser. Because chances are that a knowledgeable appraiser would have recognized the true value of these extraordinary plates and not have sold them for $45.

In some cases, auction houses will also list and sell items for an estate—in effect, becoming estate liquidators—which can be a real bonus for heirs or executors who just don’t have the time to deal with disposing the contents of a home on their own.


Art Auction Houses and the Sales Catalog

One of the biggest advantages to purchasing artwork at auction is that art auction houses publish catalogs well in advance of each sale that describe each piece. Often each listing will have images, estimated sale amounts and notes on the piece’s condition. For many collectors the sales catalog becomes a collection piece in and of itself, particularly for notable sales at houses that still publish printed books.

However, the catalog is equally important to the auction house as well. First of all, it provides a detailed record of what was listed at every auction. Second of all, it allows for easy organization and access for processes like sales order and price recording.

Creating the Catalog

Art auction houses may have a dedicated team of employees that specialize in producing catalogs for each auction category. Often these individuals have advanced degrees in their respective field, and they have experience writing about the history and market of art. By having art professionals who specialize in particular market areas, the auction houses can help to ensure that the objects they have listed are appropriately categorized and valued.

The catalog will typically list items in the order that they will appear in the sale. This means that the layout of the sale needs to be determined before the catalog can be published.

Catalogs as Research Resources

A huge benefit of auction catalogs for both collectors and art researchers is that they allow for the tracking of previous sales history. This is an essential tool for determining an item’s accurate provenance. Most art auction sales are typically based on a certain style or time period- such as an Old Master’s sale or an American Art sale. Therefore, it is easy to search catalogs by keyword or subject in the same way one would find any other references.

The Library of Congress has started to record catalogs of prominent art auctions throughout history. This serves as a database of resources for researches of provenance and for those looking for relative market values throughout history. Similarly, most major art museums and university libraries contain significant holdings related to art auction houses’ catalog history.


An Exceptional Opportunity March 7, 2016: The Naomi Lindstrom Collection – Rare Worldwide Beads & Multicultural Art Auction

Michaan’s Auctions is proud to present a most singular offering on Monday, March 7, 2016, at 10 am: an auction of the prized worldwide bead and extensive art collection of Ms. Naomi Lindstrom. Collectors and lovers of extraordinary beauty will be awestruck at these objects that are steeped in cultural and historical significance.

The World’s Most Significant Bead Collection

Selling in over 290 lots, Ms. Lindstrom’s rare beads comprise the most significant collection in the world and originate from over 50 regions. One of the highlights is a set of rare Tibetan corals that Ms. Lindstrom acquired when she spent time working with the Dali Lama’s brother and sister.

Ms. Lindstrom became a renowned expert on the beads she collected, and was a sought after lecturer by museums and cultural centers around the world. She created necklaces from her beads which were true to the cultural heritage of their country of origin.

Treasured Art & World Ethnographic Objects

In addition to the stunning worldwide bead collection, Michaan’s Auctions will also offer rare items from Ms. Lindstrom’s Asian Art collection. The distinctive nature of these pieces provide buyers with opportunities to own some of the most treasured Asian Art (including figural sandstone pieces). Also for sale will be a collection of over 80 lots of world tribal and ethnographic objects.

Another incredible highlight of this auction will be over 31 lots of artwork from Ms. Lindstrom’s personal collection. Buyers can look forward to bidding on art by John Chin Young, Oscar Edwards, Fernand Leger, Jean Charlot, and many other noted artists.

The public is encouraged to attend the preview events at Michaan’s Auction House leading up to and including the day of the sale:

Friday, March 4, 12pm – 5pm

Saturday, March 5, 10am – 2pm

Sunday, March 6, 9am – 5pm

Day of sale, beginning at 9am

and by appointment.

A Truly Magnificent Auction of Exquisite Art & Rare Items

Beads, art and rare objects from Pre-Columbian, Roman and other historical periods will be featured at this auction, plus items from Africa, India, China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia and many other regions will be offered. Fine art, furniture and many more intriguing and exquisite objects round out this incomparable sale. This is a truly one-of-a-kind auction that will appeal to a wide audience.

Please review our catalog that fully describes The Naomi Lindstrom Collection and plan to attend one of Michaan’s Auctions’ preview events for this March 7, 2016 sale.


The Importance of Provenance at Art Auctions

The value of artwork is often determined by a number of factors, including what collections it has been part of, where it has been shown, and how many times it has been sold. Art auctions are often considered to be the most transparent marketplace in the art world for the simple fact that they value items according to history and provenance. They also publish sales results, usually alongside the pre-sale estimates, that helps both dealers and collectors understand how particular artists perform at market.

The Basics of Provenance

Typically, an art piece’s provenance will include key factors in that work’s history. This both contributes to the price valuation of the piece and helps to authenticate it as a legitimate work by the artist. Collectors may look for pieces that have been at auction before, as this will typically mean that several appraisals of the piece and its provenance have already been done.

Art auctions at reputable houses will collect related materials such as certificates of authenticity, exhibition catalogue material, and receipts for previous sales. The supporting information for the provenance is itself deemed to be authentic, and the piece’s history can then be tracked.

The Guarantee

The point of collecting a piece’s provenance is to guarantee future buyers that the piece is legitimate and authentic. Ideally, this helps auction houses price their objects and removes the chance for any future disputes and liability.

Problems of Provenance

While art auctions will typically seek to disclose as much information about a piece for sale as possible, often it is impossible to know the full history of a piece. Sometimes past owners wish to keep their possession or liquidation of a piece a secret. Other times, wrong information can be presented such as incorrectly including work in shows.

Particularly with older pieces that have been sold and resold countless times, a clear timeline of ownership and exhibition is typically impossible. However, the provenance of a piece can still be relatively understood based on where the piece has traveled, and through examination of related documents like museum exhibition catalogs. If there is doubt of the piece’s authenticity, it will typically be listed as “attributed to” the artist.


Talesa’s Jewelry Pick of the Month – April 2015

A stylish spotlight from Michaan’s upcoming auction of April 11, 2015: A cultured pearl, sapphire, 18 karat white gold bracelet (lot 054, $700-900).photo

Michaan’s fashion-conscious Dir. of Marketing, Talesa Eugenio: This is a beautifully classic piece for sure, but its simplicity can be spun in many fashion directions. Pair it with an unexpected leather jacket, or go ultra-feminine for an event, such as a cocktail party.

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Michaan’s Jewelry Dept. Dir., Rhonda Harness: Lustrous pearls command center stage, but the subtle feature of the round-cut sapphires on the spacers gives sparkle to this piece. The uniformity of the pearls in this bracelet is also quite lovely.

The illustrated auction catalog will be posted online at when it becomes available. Previews for the April Estate Auction will be held on April 4th, 5th and 10th and on the day of sale, Saturday, April 11, 2015. For general information please call (510) 740-0220 ext. 0 or e-mail Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.


Going, Going…Gone? No!

Missed Michaan’s last estate auction? For the following 5 business days post sale, you now have the opportunity to purchase unsold lots. Michaan’s presents “Buy It Now,” giving you a second chance at owning an unclaimed treasure. For more information and to view unsold estate auction lots, please click here.

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Feel the Love on Saturday, February the 7th

Ruby, 18k Yellow Gold Heart Pendant, jewelry lot 027, $600-800. Sweetly simple, featuring twenty-two calibre-cut rubies.

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Five Red Glass Snuff Bottles, Asian lot 190, $1,500-2,500. May you be prosperous in all endeavors of the heart.

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Viacheslav Vasilevich Kalinin “Lovers” Pastel, fine art lot 230, $1,000-1,500. Love cannot be defined, for it is a feeling within.

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Six Paperweights For Your Valentine, decorative lot 346, $300-400. These adorable pieces are part of an 18 lot fine paperweight collection in the February sale.

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The illustrated auction catalog will be posted online at when it becomes available. Previews for the February Estate Auction will be held on January 30th to February 1st and on the day of sale, Saturday, February 7, 2015. For general information please call (510) 740-0220 ext. 0 or e-mail Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.


“Horse” Trots Off With Top Spot in Michaan’s Multimillion Asian Auction

Michaan’s December Fine Asian Works of Art auction closed 2014 with a sale realizing over $2 million USD. Artworks from the private family collection of a prominent Kuomintang government statesman dazzled at auction with a lengthy list of successes. A leading lot presented from the estate collection was 8399, Zhang Daqian’s hanging scroll titled “Horse” ($50,000-70,000). The painting was commissioned for the statesman’s daughter, who expressed a fondness for equestrian activities. The depiction of a lone horse was an unusual image for Daqian, leaving the scroll an extremely rare piece from the artist. Bidders took heated notice of the offering, pushing the price realized to a hefty $236,000, well over 3 times the high estimation. Asian Art Specialist Mr. Harry Huang noted, “The combination of rarity, an artist of Daqian’s stature and an esteemed provenance proved to be a commanding one. As a result, we saw the market respond as positively as it did.”

Zhang Daqian's "Horse" realizes $236,000 ($50,000-70,000).

Zhang Daqian’s “Horse” realizes $236,000 ($50,000-70,000).


Another top price achieved from the statesman selection was in the hanging Daqian scroll “Prunus and Bamboo” which sold for $177,000 (lot 8400, $100,000-150,000). Eleven additional artwork lots from the statesman auction grouping generously surpassed projections as well, raking in a cumulative price realized of $385,270 (lots 8391, 8392, 8393, 8396, 8397, 8398, 8401, 8402, 8409, 8413, 8415).

Zhang Daqian's "Prunus and Bamboo" realizes a price of $177,00 ($100,000-150,000).

Zhang Daqian’s “Prunus and Bamboo” realizes a price of $177,00 ($100,000-150,000).


For complete results of Michaan’s December 2014 Fine Asian Works of Art auction, please click here.  Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.



2014 December Fine Sneek Peek

The end of the year means bringing the best property to bidders at Michaan’s, in the form of two fine auctions.  The first is scheduled on Monday, December the 8th, encompassing jewelry, fine art, furnishings and decorations.  The second event will be held on Monday, December the 15th as a stand-alone Fine Asian Works of Art auction.  The following provides a first look into each department’s offerings with a selected auction highlight; a sneak peek into what is looking to be a noteworthy December fine season.

Fine Art – “Angels with Flower (from In the Bottom of the Garden),” $6,000-8,000.

The Andy Warhol signed watercolor upon lithograph will be joined in the December 8th fine auction by two additional works in the series (“Deux Cherubins – Two Cherubs and a Flower” and “The End”).

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Furniture & Decorative Arts – Daum Nancy Cameo Pictorial Glass Lamp, $8,000-10,000.

Daum Nancy is favored by many amongst Art Nouveau lighting, with this lamp bearing the delicate foliage motifs coveted by many collectors.



Jewelry – Pierre Touraine Diamond & 18k Yellow Gold “Ram’s Head” Ring, $6,000-9,000.

This particular ring was declared the winner of the 1974 “Diamond Today Competition” as published in the April 1978 issue of “Arizona Highways” magazine.

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Asian – Pair of Champlevé Enamel & Gilt Bronze Jardinières, $10,000-15,000.

From each Qianlong period jardinière springs forth a painstakingly assembled rendition of a fruit-bearing tree, glistening in amber, glass and hardstone elements.

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The illustrated auction catalogs will be posted online at when they become available.  Previews for the fine art, jewelry, furnishing and decoration auction will be held on December 5th to December 8, 2014, the day of sale.  Previews for the Fine Asian Works of Art auction will be held on December 5th to December 8th, in addition to December 12th to December 15, 2014, the day of sale.  For general information please call (510) 740-0220 ext. 0 or e-mail  Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.





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