18th century carved coral group could top $50,000

MELBOURNE, Fla. – The lifetime collection of the late James W. Pihos, formerly of Las Olas Isles, Fla., plus two prominent Miami estates, will be sold at auction the weekend of May 5-6 by Matheson’s AA Auctions, in the firm’s gallery facility located at 600 East New Haven Avenue in Melbourne, on Florida’s Space Coast. Start times both days will be 11 a.m.

Pihos, who passed away about a year ago, was a major player in the McDonald’s restaurant chain, owning 36 franchises. He also had a discerning eye when it came to putting together his fine collection of 18th and 19th century Chinese coral and ivory carvings. All of these will be offered in the auction, most without reserve (but all lots will carry modest opening bids).

Carved Coral Group  Rare and massive 18th century angel skin and melon colored figural coral group ($30,000-$50,000). Photo courtesy Matheson’s AA Auctions.

Much of Pihos’ collection will be sold on Saturday, May 5.

Also offered that day will be other Chinese lots, to include jade and other hardstone carvings, porcelains and pottery, cloisonné and cinnabar, and jewelry (to include Bulgari, Tiffany, Chanel, Corum, Caroline Dadlani, David Yurman, Girard Perregaux, pearls, diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds).

Silver will also change hands on Saturday, including Georg Jensen, Tiffany, Gorham and antique English silver.

carved ivory birdcage  Carved ivory and inlaid lacquer birdcage, attributed to China’s Ch’ien Lung period, 24 inches tall ($7,000-$12,000).

On Sunday, May 6, the session will be packed with fine furniture, decorative arts, lighting and artwork. Furniture will feature a black lacquer ware ivory and ormolu mounted bedroom suite, carved rosewood Chinese furniture and bronze Gucci pieces.

Decorative arts will include Japanese mixed metal vases, Meissen figural groups, crystal (Lalique, Steuben and Baccarat), Picasso ceramics, Karl Mann vases and more. There will also be magnificent and monumental Baccarat chandeliers, sconces and lamps and other lighting. The artwork will feature original paintings and works on paper by a host of noted international artists.

The Chinese coral figural groupings from the Pihos collection are certain to attract keen bidder interest. One example, with a presale estimate of $30,000 to $50,000, is a fine and massive angel skin coral and melon-colored coral group (circa late 17th century, the Chia-ch’ing imperial era). Carved of a single branch, the piece depicts an emperor on a throne surrounded by subjects.

Also carrying a presale estimate of $30,000 to $50,000 is a stunning bronze side table by Swiss sculptor and designer Diego Giacometti (1902-1985), (the younger brother of the sculptor Alberto Giacometti). Also in the sale will be tables by Gucci ($3,000-$5,000) and Philip LaVerne ($4,000-$6,000) who, with his father Kelvin, made cast-bronze tables.

Yet another lot with an expected $30,000 to $50,000 selling price is a monumental oil on canvas painting of a lion in repose by Charles Robert Knight (N.Y., 1874-1953). Knight was best known for his animal-in-landscape paintings, but he was also known for dinosaur sculptures and other prehistoric renderings.

Louis XV ebony striking bracket clock  Louis XV ebony striking bracket clock (circa 1750), “Festeau Le Jeune A. Paris” ($10,000-$15,000).

Also from the artwork category, an original oil on canvas of a woman playing the piano by James (Francis) Day (N.Y., 1863-1942), is expected to fetch $10,000 to $15,000. The work is signed lower right and measures 30 inches by 34 inches. Other artworks in the auction are by such notables as Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Nicola Simbari, Joan Miro and Paul Jacoulet.

An ancient Oriental lot is a pair of grey pottery Taoist mask two-piece door knockers, from tomb doors dating to the Warring States period (475-221 BC). When a thermo-luminescence analysis/report was done at Oxford (authentication papers included), it stated the date of the last firing was 1,800-2,000 years ago. The knockers should realize $10,000 to $15,000.

A carved ivory and inlaid lacquer birdcage, attributed to the Ch’ien Lung period and removed from the Imperial Palace in Peking, China by Anglo-French troops who invaded in 1860, is expected to bring $7,000 to $12,000. The dome cage has ivory rod sides above a collar of red lacquer ware, inlaid mother of pearl insects and floral motif, with a nifty cloisonné feed jar.

A Louis XV ebony striking bracket clock, with bracket (circa 1750), should command $10,000 to $15,000. The “Festeau Le Jeune A. Paris” clock comes in a cartouche-shaped case and is mounted with scrolled ormolu having an eagle in a pierced pendant. Also due to be sold is a Yamanaka silver and jade inkwell with turquoise Buddha ($2,500-$3,000) a pair of Japanese Shibavama vases ($2,500-$3,500); and a Greek terracotta figural group, attributed to the Hellenistic period (2nd-3rd century BC), showing a Bacchanal procession ($3,000-$5,000).

Previews will be held on Friday, May 4, from 10-5, Saturday, May 5, the first day of the sale, from 9-11 a.m.; and Sunday, May 6, from 9-11 a.m. All purchases will be subject to a 17 percent buyer’s premium (in-house) and 20 percent (on LiveAuctioneers.com) for total purchases up to $200,000; and a 12 percent premium for in house and 15 percent Liveauctioneers.com over that.

For more information about Matheson’s AA Auctions and the upcoming May 5-6 auction, contact 321-768-6668 or aaauctions@earthlink.net.

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