Many highlights of Michaan's April 8 Estate Auction come from the fascinating estate of Kelly Ellis and his iconic Lion Pub. The pub underwent changes in tone and clientele over its 48 years at the corner of Divisadero and Sacramento, but may be best remembered as San Francisco's quintessential gay fern bar. It will also be remembered for the pair of lion statues, big enough for bar patrons to sit astride, that gave the eclectic pub its name. The lions are among the many lots of Mr. Ellis's memorabilia, decorative art, paintings, and furnishings to be sold at Michaan's in April. The Lion Pub's notorious 1970s advertising poster is highly collectable, and multiple copies will be offered in this auction. The poster's lush image of a lion lying down with a man is the work of Richard Roesener (1947-1985), an erotic artist and accomplished scientific illustrator once employed by the Chicago Museum of Natural History. Roesener used the pseudonym Dale Hall on his drawing for the Lion Pub. The poster is especially coveted by collectors because its sensual depiction of man and beast was thought too racy for public display at the time, and a tamer version is said to have been more widely printed and circulated.
More Lion Pub and Kelly Ellis estate treasures in the sale include gilt mirrors, leaded glass windows, Asian style furnishings -- including a sprawling carved wood opium bed (estimated at $600-$800) -- and contemporary quality furniture by McGuire and Herman Miller. A rootwood bar with three stools, heavily gnarled and exuding earthy retro appeal, is estimated at $500-$700. Architectural elements include newel posts carved with faces and pineapples ($400-$600, the lot of four) and a pair of massive wood door panels ($600-$800) painted Chinese red and decorated with stylized cloud motifs carved in high relief. A Japanese display tansu ($600 to $800), a huge coromandel folding screen ($700-$900) and a bronze Chinoiserie coffee table by Philip and Kelvin Laverne ($2,000-$4,000) are top highlights.
Artworks include 20th Century American landscape paintings such as the lovely post-Impressionist style oil, "Hudson River" ($1,000-$1,500) by Jacques Zucker (1900-1981). Collectors will pounce on a trio of fashion drawings by legendary Hollywood costumer William Travilla, who created the plunging white halter dress worn by Marilyn Monroe atop the subway grate in "The Seven Year Itch." Michaan's lot of Travilla drawings ($600-$800) depicts Jaclyn Smith in the 1981 TV biopic, "Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy." These and many more lots from the estate of Kelly Ellis and his Lion Pub will be offered on April 8 to bidders seeking unique auction finds and hoping to collect and preserve a piece of San Francisco history.
Memories of another notable San Franciscan, the late philanthropist and designer Jeanne Taylor, will bring flair to the April auction with a generous cache of Ms. Taylor's fine evening gowns, suits, separates and coats by Chanel, Valentino, YSL and many more including Badgley Mischka, Donna Karan, Louis Feraud and Richard Tyler. Jeanne Taylor was a Missouri beauty led to California by a career in TV and films, followed by 35 years at the helm of Lilli Ann, the venerable San Francisco fashion house. She is remembered by many for her leading role as a Grace Cathedral fundraiser and Trustee. Grouped into more than twenty lots of multiple pieces, the posh wardrobe offered in this auction reflects Jeanne Taylor's perch in San Francisco society as well as her lifestyle while head of Lilli Ann, the luxury fashion label. The many Lilli Ann designs in the sale are bound to create excitement in the vintage fashion community, where collectors have long favored the label for its impeccable tailoring and elegant fabrics. Photos and more information about the Jeanne Taylor fashion lots will be available at www.michaans.com in late March.
As in every monthly Estate Auction at Michaan's, fine jewelry will be highlighted on April 8. Antique finds include the trio of Victorian brooches ($500-$700); the 14k gold has a soft patina of age and the garnets and seed pearls are typical of their romantic period. Collectors will be delighted by the superb blackamoor brooch crafted of 18k gold with gemstones and pearls ($800-$1,200). The suite of bib necklace and earrings with cabochon star sapphires and rubies set in gold, in the style of Bulgari, is estimated at $2,500-$3,500. The big, beautiful diamond ring ($5,500-$7,500) and the Art Deco bracelet ($20,000-$30,000) feature scores of stunning fine diamonds set in platinum. Among the wristwatches, the Cartier "Santos" ($1,500-$2,500) is distinguished not only by its classic Cartier design details -- exposed screws of 18k yellow gold contrasting smartly with the stainless steel -- but also by its history. The Santos is named for Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos Du Mont, who challenged Cartier in the early 1900s to design a watch that could withstand the rigors of the open cockpit.
Additional highlights of the April auction include many fine art lots. A magical portrait of a girl ($1,000-$2,000) by Mexico's Horacio Rocha (1912-1973) and a profusion of cut flowers ($800-$1,200) captured by Nell Walker Warner (1891-1970 ) are just two of the outstanding paintings in this sale. Featured artists include Albert de Rome, Leonardo Nierman and Eugene Garin. A photographic landscape by Christopher Burkett will also be sold. Full color multiple views of each fine art lot can be seen before auction day at www.michaans.com, where bidders can also view Asian art lots such as the pair of superb Kawase Hasui woodblock prints, exemplary of the Shin-hanga movement. "Zojoji Temple, Shiba" ($2,000-$3,000) is one of Hasui's most esteemed works, depicting a lone figure with parasol persevering through a snowstorm past the massive red temple gate. In "Tenno Temple, Osaka" ($1,000-$1,500), rooftops float dreamily in a cold blue sky softened by falling snow.
All property offered on April 8 may be previewed on Saturday and Sunday, April 1 and 2, and on Friday, April 7. Absentee bids may be submitted in advance of the sale. Bidders are encouraged to participate in the live auction by phone or online, or to join the fun in the audience at Michaan's Alameda gallery, 2751 Todd Street, within the former Alameda Naval Air Station. Parking is plentiful, with excellent casual dining options on nearby "Spirits Row" where the views of San Francisco are among the best in the Bay.
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Featuring fine art, decorative arts, Asian art and jewelry
April 8, 2017
April 1, 2, 7 and day of sale
2751 Todd Street
Alameda, CA 94501