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Sale of Lifetime Collection of Fast Food Chain Owner offers Gourmet Antiques

by WorthPoint Staff (04/27/12).

This rare and massive 18th-century angel skin- and melon-colored figural coral group, from the lifetime collection of the late James W. Pihos—a major player in the McDonald’s restaurant chain—is expected to sell for $30,000 to $50,000 in a sale set for May 5-6 and to be facilitated by Matheson’s AA Auctions..

MELBOURNE, Fla. – The lifetime collection of the late James W. Pihos—a major player in the McDonald’s restaurant chain, owning 36 franchises—can only be considered gourmet, with a discerning eye when it came to accumulating pieces. Many of the items, as well as the contents of two prominent Miami estates, will be sold at auction the weekend of May 5-6 by Matheson’s AA Auctions.

Pihos, who passed away about a year ago, 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).

“Mr. Pihos had huge Lalique doorhandles leading into the magnificent master bedroom of his estate home, and that may offer a little insight into the world of a man who lived life large and only bought the very best,” said Lloyd Matheson of Matheson’s AA Auctions. “His red and white figural coral pieces—there are 33 in the sale—and his ivory carvings are just outstanding.” The Laliqe doorhandles, incidentally, will also be auctioned as part of his overall collection.

Much of Pihos’s 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, to include Georg Jensen, Tiffany, Gorham and antique English silver. Then, 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.

A gorgeous bronze side table by Diego Giacometti (1902-1985), the renowned Swiss designer, could sell for $30,000 to $50,000.

The Chinese coral figural groupings from the Pihos collection are certain to attract keen bidder interest. One example, with a pre-sale estimate of $30,000-$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 pre-sale estimate of $30,000-$50,000 is a stunning bronze side table by Diego Giacometti (1902-1985), the renowned Swiss sculptor and designer, and younger brother of the sculptor Alberto Giacometti. Also in the sale will be tables by Gucci (est. $3,000-$5,000) and Philip LaVerne (est. $4,000-$6,000) who, with his father Kelvin, made cast-bronze tables.

Yet another lot with an expected $30,000-$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. The painting in this auction is attractively housed in a period frame.

Another artwork of note is an ink drawing with wash depicting a reclining nude figure by Leonard Tsuguhary Foujita (1886-1968), a French-Japanese painter and a contemporary of artists such as Picasso, Georges Braque and Henri Roussea. The work being sold, “Nu Allonge”, is signed and dated lower left (1951), is double matted in a gold leaf frame and is 7 ¼ inches by 12 inches.

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-$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.

Asian objects will be featured all weekend and one lot is so intriguing it borders on being priceless — a Chinese figure of a standing Quan Yi, with an inscription on the base that translates “Gift from Sima Yan to…” (illegible). Sima Yan was the first emperor of the Jin Dynasty (265 to 420 AD). If it’s authentic to the period, the estimate of $15,000-$20,000 is wildly conservative.

Another ancient Oriental lot is a rare 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-$15,000.

Two Chinese lots carry identical pre-sale estimates of $3,000-$5,000. One is a spinach jade table screen mounted in a fretwood stand (16 inches by 10 ¾ inches overall). The 18th century screen came from Yuan Ming Yuan, Peking, in 1860. The other is a pair of porcelain foo dogs attributed to the Ming Dynasty (circa 1368-1644), with ivory glaze perched on fitted stands.

This pair of grey pottery Taoist mask door knockers from China's Warring States period, 475-221 B.C., carry a presale estimate of $10,000-$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-$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-$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 (est. $2,500-$3,000) a pair of Japanese Shibavama vases (est. $2,500-$3,500); and a Greek terracotta figural group, attributed to the Hellenistic period (2nd-3rd century BC), showing a Bacchanal procession (est. $3,000-$5,000).

Previews will be held on Friday, May 4, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 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 over that.

For more information about this auction, call 321.768.6668, e-mail to aaauctions@earthlink.net or visit the Matheson’s AA Auctions website.

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