Indian Art Sale Brings $2.25 Million

June 3rd, 2013

This 6 1/8" high John Tiktak stone sculpture sold to a Canadian collector for $43,750 (est. $20,000/40,000). Haas said a colleague at Bonhams, Ingmars Lindbergs, is “striking out into Inuit material. I never handled much of it before, but the very best artists can do very well. We invite more pieces like this, but only the very best with international appeal.”

This Zuni polychrome dough bowl, formerly in the collection of Robert Gallegos and attributed to We’wha by Francis Harlow, sold for $17,500 (est. $8000/12,000).

Bonhams, San Francisco, California

 Photos courtesy Bonhams

The June 3 Native American art auction at Bonhams in San Francisco, California, drew a big crowd and drew an even bigger crowd on the phones and Internet. Sales totaled $2.25 million (includes buyers’ premiums). Specialist Jim Haas told M.A.D. that he was “quite pleased with the results. It was one of our strongest sales in recent years. Of course, it was one of our biggest”—more than 500 lots. “Some might say it was too big, but it got a lot of people bidding. We sold eighty percent of the lots. The market seems to be attempting to reawaken. I don’t know if people will pay the prices of seven or eight years ago, but they are out buying. Dealers were buying for inventory. We printed an extra hundred catalogs, but they sold out for the first time in years.”

One of the attractions was the first part of the Jim and Lauris Phillips collection. The Phillipses were longtime dealers (Fairmont Trading Company), beloved of both dealers and collectors. Her jewelry collection is going to the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but some of their baskets, pots, and blankets (“and a handful of their kachina dolls and a smidgen of beadwork”) were on offer June 3 at Bonhams. There will be more Phillips material (“lots of it”) available at the once-a-year September 9 “Art and Artifacts of the Americas” auction and then at the next major Native American art sale December 9, as well as at some smaller auctions at Bonhams.

For more information, contact Jim Haas at (415) 503-3294 or see the Web site (

This Maidu polychrome tray was purchased for $37,500 (est. $4000/6000) by the same Bay Area collector who bought the Haida argillite panel pipe, a man who “sits up front and tries to pick off the best things at the auction”—this time he was successful.

This 10" high Hopi kachina doll, estimated at $10,000/15,000, sold for $20,000 to a private Bay Area collector present at the auction. Jim Haas said the collector saw the kachina at the Bonhams booth at the Marin Indian show in February and was “smitten. She was mad at me for putting it on the catalog cover.”

This Haida argillite totem pipe attributed to Charles Edenshaw sold for $48,750 (est. $7000/10,000) to a dealer on the telephone. Haas’s low estimate came before the Edenshaw provenance was confirmed.

This Chemehuevi polychrome olla sold to a private California dealer for $16,250 (est. $3000/4000). Why the low estimate? “I knew it was a great thing—I did describe it as ‘superb’ in the catalog heading” Haas said, “but I didn’t know that it had been published in a new book on Maidu art.”

This Navajo Germantown rug from an Oklahoma collection sold for $22,500 (est. $10,000/15,000) to a private collector from the Midwest who was in the room.

This Hopi bracelet made by Charles Loloma, another superstar jewelry legend, sold for $18,750 (est. $7000/10,000) to Scottsdale, Arizona, dealer Gene Waddell. Haas said, “For Loloma, he puts up his hand and doesn’t put it down.”

This Charles Loloma bracelet sold for $15,000 (est. $5000/7000) to dealer Gene Waddell.

Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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