Native masks come in from the cold

A stunning collection of previously unknown Eskimo masks led the Bonhams Native American Art sale in San Francisco on Monday 5 December. Each of the 26 masks found a buyer and in total the collection made US$295,575 (£233,000) against a lower estimate of $110,000 (£86,750).

A collection of Eskimo masks

A Janus-face fishing float from the same collection sold for $17,500 (estimate US$3,000-4,000).

Bonhams specialist in Native American Art, Ingmars Lindbergs, said “Bought in Alaska in the 1930s, the masks came from the fascinating Madeline Langworthy collection. They attracted bidding from all over the world with collectors from the US, Canada, Europe and Asia eager to acquire pieces which had never been seen in public before.”

Among other highlights was Dartmouth Portrait#2 by Fritz Scholder which sold for $52,500 (£41,400). This is the highest price paid at auction for a work by the artist. Painted during Scholder’s tenure as artist-in-residence at Dartmouth University in the autumn of 1973, and part of his acclaimed “Dartmouth Portrait” series, the work had not appeared on the market since it was purchased at the Cordier and Ekstrom gallery in NYC in 1974.

In total, the sale made $1,129,500 (£890,700).

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