Japan’s Louis C. Tiffany Garden Museum Collection offered by Michaan’s in November

ALAMEDA,Calif. – Michaan’s Auctions is pleased to announce it has been selected to deaccess the Louis C. Comfort Tiffany Garden Museum collection of Matsue on the Sea of Japan at a special auction scheduled for November.

The Garden Museum Collection came to fruition due in large part to the special partnership of Takeo Horiuchi and Alastair Duncan. Horiuchi was at once the founder and director of the Louis C. Tiffany Garden Museum. Duncan is the world’s foremost authority on Art Nouveau artworks and Art Deco, having served as Senior Vice President of Christie’s Art Nouveau and Art Deco Department as well as authoring dozens of books on the decorative arts of the era. In 1992 Horiuchi attended a travelling exhibition in Japan that Duncan had curated, “The Masterworks of Louis Comfort Tiffany.”

Scheduled to be sold in November as part of the collection is this elaborate Tiffany Studios grape table lamp. It is expected to sell for $900,000 to $1.2 million.

Horiuchi was impressed with Duncan’s level of knowledge and took him on a personal tour of his Tiffany Studios accumulation at the time. Duncan recalls being in awe as he was led to storage room after storage room of outstanding Tiffany Studios pieces, recalling one room with a “crush of Tiffany lamps.”

A working relationship developed with Duncan becoming Horiuchi’s trusted advisor, helping him to seek out and acquire the most coveted Tiffany selections both at auction and from private collections. If Duncan found a masterpiece, Horiuchi became relentless in his pursuit to acquire it. Together they traveled
throughout the world, scouting and obtaining the most exceptional Tiffany and Art Nouveau pieces available. Duncan’s expertise and Horiuchi’s determination proved to be a winning combination in amassing what became the finest Tiffany Studios and Art Nouveau collection in existence; The Louis C. Tiffany Garden Museum Collection.

When Horiuchi decided to sell the collection, Duncan notified his longtime friend and business associate, Allen Michaan. Michaan quickly assembled a group of private investors to make the transaction possible.

“This acquisition, which is the largest single transaction to ever occur in the world of decorative arts, elevates Michaan’s Auctions from a well known, fast growing national player on the antiques and art scene to an entirely new international level,” he said. “I am very proud and excited that Michaan’s Auctions is at the center of such a history-making event and that we will be able to offer many of these spectacular works of art at our venue.”

Horiuchi opened the doors to his first Tiffany museum in Nagoya, Japan, in October 1994. He became concerned about the ever-present threat of earthquakes in the city and soon began a search for an alternate locale, eventually settling on the town of Matsue on the Sea of Japan, where he built a museum in which to house his unparalleled collection. What set the museum’s treasures apart from many others lay in its quality and comprehensiveness; every artistic discipline produced by Tiffany Studios was represented, with the highest artistic level displayed in each category.

Horiuchi’s unwavering passion for Tiffany’s works of art translated into a level of collecting excellence never before seen. He expressed his ideals and vision for the collection in the massive 2004 publication, “Louis C. Tiffany: The Garden Museum Collection,” by Alastair Duncan. He closed the museum in Matsue several years later and was preparing to construct a new home for his collections at the base of Mount Fuji as he had decided to relocate it to a location that would generate more visitors.

Following the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that led to the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant March, 3 2011, the Japanese government published its seismology forecast for future earthquakes in the island nation, predicting a series of earthquakes within the immediate future, three in the region near Mount Fuji. Faced thus with the overwhelming evidence of a catastrophic earthquake that would destroy his beloved glass collection, Horiuchi made the magnanimous decision to forgo his passion and to have his collection depart his native shores for safety elsewhere. A supremely selfless sacrifice, certainly, and one that no-one familiar with his uncompromising pursuit through the years of Tiffany’s masterworks could have anticipated. The search for a worthy successor was therefore begun, which resulted in the purchase of the collection earlier this year by Michaan’s Group.

The sale of items from The Garden Museum Collection is scheduled for Nov. 17, 2012, in Alameda, Calif. The grouping will account for approximately 140 lots including lamps, windows, vases, paintings, enamels and mosaics. The selection of non Tiffany paintings from the museum will be offered in the fine art auction Dec. 1, 2012 at Michaan’s Auctions.

Michaan’s Auctions looks forward to collaborating with Sotheby’s Paris to offer the French Art Nouveau collection from The Louis C. Tiffany Garden Museum in February 2013. Highlights include some of the most important pieces of Gallé furniture ever created as well as numerous objects by Réné Lalique, Louis Majorelle and their contemporary artists exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle and other international exhibitions of that period.

For more information on the Treasures of Louis C. Tiffany from the Garden Museum, visit Michaan’s Auctions.

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