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Best Auction House: Antique Appraisers | Clars Auction Gallery

From online auction to fine art appraisals in your home, Clars Auction Gallery brings 50 years' experience

Highlights include: Left: A Colombian emerald (approx. 12.00 cts), diamond and eighteen karat gold ring. Middle: A Colombian emerald, diamond and eighteen karat gold ring. Right: A pair of Colombian emerald, diamond and fourteen karat gold ear jackets. To be offered Spring Fine Jewelry & Timepieces Auction at Clars Auction Gallery Friday April 14, 9:30am.

(Ad) Investments come in all shapes and sizes. Nowhere is that more true than the San Francisco Bay Area. Sand Hill Road and the world of venture capital are close at hand. But here, at the intersection of wealth and taste, there’s also an abundance of investment-quality auction property: the trove of antiques in the attic of the Victorian next door, the rare memorabilia in the garage on the corner, and that fabulous painting over your Nob Hill neighbor’s fireplace.

California is home to the most billionaires in the United States, and the San Francisco area claims 116 of them, according to Forbes' 2022 World's Billionaires list . The Bay Area’s high-powered, high-net-worth individuals have been distinguished by sophistication and cutting-edge tastes since the days of the Gold Rush, when the forerunners of today’s tech moguls began building legendary collections of fine things. This heady blend of big money and bold vision made the region the perfect birthplace for an auction house like Clars Auction Gallery .

What is Clars Auction Gallery?

Clars Auction Gallery is a Bay Area antiques appraiser and auction house with half a century of experience serving buyers and sellers alike. Since its inception in 1972, the trusted auction house and its appraisers have sold more than $150 million in fine art, Asian art, fine jewelry, furniture and decorative art.

A marketplace for buyers seeking treasures of all kinds - heirlooms, contemporary works of art, and relics from bygone eras-Clars offers online bidding, phone bidding and live, in-person auction events too. It’s also a destination for sellers seeking top dollar for their rare and valuable goods; the full-service auction house does the research for you and offers both verbal or formal written appraisals.

Clars Auction Gallery’s expert appraisers are skilled in identifying, sourcing and evaluating precious finds. Consider Clars Auction Gallery a full-service auction house with a domestic address and a virtual Rolodex of international buyers.

What sets Clars Auction Gallery apart from other auctioneers and appraisers?

This auction house makes its home in a renowned hub for wealth and culture. San Francisco – area collectors know and value quality, actively trading and investing in fine auction property. The Bay Area consistently attracts and hosts ultra-high-net-worth individuals, among them Silicon Valley’s tech innovators, many with ties to collectors around the world. Entrepreneurs, business leaders, elite athletes, international collectors and prominent artists regularly converge on the Bay Area scene in search of museum-quality acquisitions.

A key attribute that sets Clars apart is a history of hosting stellar fine art auctions. Clars has achieved record high prices at auction for fine art, reaching new highs for notable artists’ work. Its reach and reputation make Clars a top auction house worldwide, breaking auction records for sales in the U.S. and internationally.

Fine works of art auctioned by Clars include paintings, works on paper, prints, photography, and sculpture. Rick Unruh, Clars' CEO and President, leads the Fine Art Department and specializes in 19 th, 20th 21st century and American and European fine art.

Clars’ outstanding fine art sales history includes a number of world auction records. A spectacular 1990 painting by Raimonds Staprans, “Blue Boats,” sold for $187,600 in 2022, a new world auction record for the artist at the time. A wonderful Lynda Benglis sculpture brought $184,500 at Clars in 2020. Another sales highlights in the complete set of Andy Warhol’s Mick Jagger print suite. The portfolio of ten portrats sold for a whopping $817,000 in 2020, igniting the interest of gallerists and collectors alike, and proving Clars’ ability to effectively market and sell a bevy of art genres.

(pictured:  Finn Juhl for Neils Vodder Chieftain chair Sold for $80,000).  For a complimentary and confidential Antique Appraisal visit to speak to a Furniture Appraiser.

In late 2021, Clars’ Fine Art department presented the Modern + Contemporary Art + Design auction, a curated sales that realized over $1,300,000. The sale was led by Andy Warhol’s iconic Moonwalk screenprints. With telephone bidders from across the globe, and many collectors vying for the prints, the price soared to $417,500, evidence that Clars is a leading auction gallery for modern and contemporary art. On March 2022, Clars sold Loie Hollowell’s “Point of Entry” for $1.05 million, shattering the previous United States auction record for the artists by more than 52 percent.

Himalayan gilt bronze figural group of Yamataka Vajrabhairava Ekavira Sold: $248,300
Leonor Fini (Argentine/French, 1908-1996), "Zorniga," 1959, oil on canvas Sold: $187,500
Phillip Lloyd Powell, New Hope Chair and Ottoman Sold: $12,000
Finn Juhl for Neils Vodder Chieftain chair Sold: $80,000
George Nakashima, wall-hanging cabinet. Sold: $62,500
Pair of Chinese huanghuali horseshow back armchairs  Sold: $160,000
A stainless steel wristwatch, Rolex GMT Master Sold: $45,375
A pair of diamond and platinum earrings, Van Cleef & Arpels Sold: $49,200

The department of Asian art at Clars Auction Gallery, with its international reach and reputation for excellence, is a leading destination for collectors. The expertise of Clars’ Asian art team holds sway with buyers and sellers alike. All the most highly-sought categories of Chinese art, fine porcelains and carved jade, scroll paintings, embroidered textiles, carved rare wood furniture, imperial artifacts, are featured at Clars. Discerning collectors also trust Clars to buy and sell fine Japanese woodblock prints, Tibetan Buddhas, Korean pottery and many more treasures from every corner of the Asian art world.

As a Bay Area leader in sales of fine jewelry and timepieces, Clars attracts the finest estates and consignments. Spanning antique to contemporary, Clars’ selection of fine jewelry includes everyday luxury pieces and rare gemstones, as well as jewels and timepieces by the world’s top designers. Clars’ twelve annual jewelry sales feature important diamonds and colored gemstones of exceptional origin. This is a showstopper category at Clars Auction Gallery, with top prices achieved for sellers and a loyal following of buyers seeking rare and precious finds.

Clars is the leading Northern California-based auction house for Design. From the Arts and Crafts movement through to contemporary studio furniture and decorative art, Clars hosts several specialized Modern + Contemporary Art + Design auctions each year, marketing internationally to reach a global audience and to achieve the highest prices realized. Clars’ Design department features the very best names in design history: Tiffany Studios, Emile Gallé, Rene Lalique, Gio Ponti, Ico Parisi, Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl, George Nakashima, Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip and Kelvin LaVerne, George Nelson, Vladimir Kagan, Greta Grossman, Charles and Ray Eames, Milo Baughan, Paul Evans, Phillip Lloyd Powell, Paul Kjaerholm, Eero Saarinen, and Dale Chihuly among others.

Recent prices realized include a George Nakashima wall-hanging cabinet that brought $62,500, a Chihuly chandelier sold for $62,500, a Finn Juhl for Niels Vodder Chieftain chair that commanded $81,250, a Phillip and Kevin LaVerne Eternal Forest table that brought $22,500, among others.

Also featured in the Furniture and Decorative Arts deparment at Clars: fine furniture and decorative arts comprising American, English, and Continental pottery, porcelain, glass, textiles, mirrors, lighting, clocks, bronze and marble sculpture, tapestries, and the finest handmade antique carpets. Recent highlights include an ancient Greek bronze helmet, 7th century BCE, which sold for $37,500. The helmet was from the Estate of Frank J. Caufield, of San Francisco and Montecito, a founding partner of the venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins Caufield, and Byers. Also noteworthy in recent auctions was the Dreyer’s Ice Cream 1920 Ford Model T delivery vehicle with company logo that realized $23,750. These recent highlights illustrate the remarkable diversity of the auction property at Clars.

Founded in 1972, Clars Auction Gallery was born in an era of cultural metamorphosis and technological innovation. These qualifies, particularly abundant in the San Francisco, Bay Area, continue to inform the business today. Throughout its history, Clars has been known for the excellent service provided by the Clars team of appraisers: eagle-eyed yet approachable, willing to literally walk into someone’s home in search of treasure. The service standard applies equally to transactions, which are handled with a sense of urgency underscored by integrity. An array of platforms – online, phone and absentee bidding, as well as fun and exciting live events – supports the worldwide community of auction mavens drawn to Clars Auction Gallery, month after month and year after year (fifty years, and counting!)

(pictured below: Raimonds Staprans (American/Latvian, b. 1926), Blue Boats, 1990, oil on canvas, 44″ x 48″.Sold: $187,500 June 2022, A World Auction Record for this Artist.).  For a complimentary and confidential Antique Appraisal visit to speak to a Fine Art Appraiser.

Will I recognize any of this auction house’s items?

We’re guessing that if you’re reading this, you’ve heard of Tiffany Studios, George Nakashima, Henri Matisse, Ray Parker, Wayne Thiebaud or Hans Wegner. If you haven’t, don’t fret because Clars Auction Gallery hosts events to introduce the public to a mix of high-profile and lesser-known gems. Studied buyers and novices alike can invest wisely in art with the right assistance.

What services does Clars Auction Gallery offer?

Valuation: The auction house’s appraisal department determines the monetary value of fine art and antiques, jewelry, furniture, décor and more with studied accuracy. Its appraisers can pinpoint the fair-market worth of a good for insurance or donation purposes. Clars Auction Gallery’s consignment services help you sell your treasured items through its online, phone or real-time auctions and collect a portion of the sales price. Clars Auction Gallery also offers formal written appraisals that can be kept in your records if you’re not ready to part with your heirlooms. These can also be used for estate or insurances purposes. These appraisals start at $250 for the first hour.

Education: Special events at the auction house sometimes include didactic seminars, like this past May’s workshop on NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which taught the public about this relatively new form of transactional art.

Charity: Clars Auction Gallery extended charitable efforts to war-ravaged Ukraine the only way an auction house can: promoting custom art to the public. In late April,Clars Auction Gallery offered a photo print, " Girl with Candy," by Oleksii Kyrychenk o. In it, a striking duality comes to life through the artist's daughter, as she hugs a double-barrel rifle in one arm, enjoying a lollipop and watching for incoming troops mere days before Russian forces invaded Ukraine. The artwork – a striking visual of a real-world dystopia – was one of five limited-edition Clars Auction Gallery prints that were auctioned on April 24, 2022. Per the artist's request, Clars donated the proceeds to Come Back Alive, an independent organization that supports troops with medical and technical aid.

Local Northern California PBS station KVIE also recognizes Clars Auction Gallery's expertise and leadership in the fine art auction space, and partners with Clars as an incentive in its annual pledge drives. Specialists from Clars provide in-person valuation as members bring in cherished family heirlooms, furniture and decorative art, Asian art, or fine jewelry. KVIE benefits in growing its membership and support, and the public gets to tap into Clars extensive expertise in fine art, furniture, decorative arts, jewelry and Asian art.

Representation: Clars Auction Gallery has played host to auctions for corporations including Wells Fargo Bank and the Bank of the West’s collections. It has also represented the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oakland Museum of California and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among other cultural institutions.

(pictured: Zhang Daqian, Sightseeing in Mountain, ink and color on paper. Sold for $500,750). For a complimentary and confidential Antique Appraisal visit to speak to an Asian Art Appraiser.

What if I don’t like buying online?

Clars welcomes the public in person! Bid for free, starting at 9am each auction day. Register and receive a paddle eligible for two-day use. Then bid to your heart’s content on everything offered in the sale.

What should I be asking about Clars that I don’t know to ask?

Ask if Clars Auction Gallery’s specialists will assess your personal collection of items with a walk-through of your home or business! This is particularly helpful for those with sizable collections who are within visiting distance, and who don’t know where to start when it comes to photographing potential sales items.Clars Auction Gallery’s staff offers the " Courtesy Look," where specialist appraisers stroll through your property in search of eye-catching items that could be valuable auction items. This service is free, but should only be requested if emailing photos for virtual evaluations isn’t the best route.

Where should first-time bidders start?

You don’t have to come from a family of auction-house aficionados to join the bidding world. First-time bidders are just as welcome as those with generations of auction-block expertise in their blood. The first thing to do? Make time to visit – online or in-person – upcoming auctions. Next, fall in love with a one-of-a-kind collectable, from cars to prints, furniture, wearable art and other wares.

Clars Auction Gallery’ s tips for first-time bidders

Preview the sales items. The auction house is open from 1 to 5 p.m. the day before an auction, so you can stroll and observe at your leisure or ask questions with the specialists onsite. Individual appointments also available by request.

Don’t assume you can’t afford a piece based on its auction estimate, as some goods sell below the estimated price. It’s wise to ask for the condition of an auction item; contact for detailed reports. Keep in mind that estimated prices are based on history: the price range a similar item may have fetched at a previous auction.

Don't spend more than you can afford. It can be tempting to veer toward your impulsive tendencies when the competitive nature of a live auction hits. Don't let the time constraint that comes with bidding lead you to spend above your limit. Keep in mind that you’ll be paying more than your winning bid: there’s also the buyer’s premim paid to the auction house, as well as sales tax and expenses.

Learn about the conditions of a sale . Each auction has conditions of sale that communicate the rules and regulations of each event. You’ll need a valid credit card on file if you’ve never purchased from Clars before.

Prepare to pack up your potentially delicate purchase. Remember that Clars doesn’t provide in-house packaging for sold items.

Lastly, have fun! The excitement of a live auction or online auction definitely beats retail-store browsing. There’s also a community aspect to auctions: Revel in your appreciation of fine pieces with others who share your interest. It’s a dynamic experience that can’t be replicated in a retail shop.

(pictured below: An 8.58 very light blue diamond ring. Sold for $468,500).  For a complimentary and confidential Antique Appraisal visit tp speak to a Fine Jewelry Appraiser.


Should I buy or sell with Clars Auction Gallery?

Like most things in life, it depends.

Are you truly prepared to part with your sentimentally significant furniture, fine art, decorative art or heirloom jewelry? Then consignment is perfect for you now!

Do you want to wait and see how its worth might evolve? Ask for a written appraisal to keep in your records and hold the item.

How much do you want to raise your paddle at the online or live auction? Is the adrenaline rush of the real-time auction influencing your decision? Or are you enamored enough with the unique artifact to commit to its sales price, taxes, premium, and shipping costs?

Whatever you decide, auction houses will be ready and waiting with specialist appraisers and unforgettable finds for you to browse and bid on.

Clars is thrilled to host their Spring Fine Jewelry and Timepieces Auction on Friday, April 14th, beginning at 9:30 AM PDT. The sale includes a fine selection of colored gemstones, diamonds, antique and signed jewelry, and timepieces.

The sale is highlighted by exceptional gemstones, including an approximately 12-carat Colombian emerald diamond and eighteen-karat gold ring, estimated at $10,000–$20,000; a pair of Victorian Colombian emerald and diamond earrings, estimated at $5,000–$7,000; a natural pearl, diamond, and platinum necklace, estimated at $6,000–$8,000; an unheated Burma ruby, diamond, and fourteen-karat gold ring, estimated at $15,000–$20,000; and an unheated Ceylon sapphire, diamond, and platinum ring, estimated at $15,000–$20,000.
Complementing the auction will be a selection of exquisite diamond jewelry, including an antique diamond and eighteen-karat gold ring, estimated at $2,000–$4,000; a diamond and fourteen-karat white gold bracelet, estimated at $15,000–$20,000; and a diamond and eighteen-karat white gold revière necklace, estimated at $30,000–$40,000.
Maker Mario Buccellati is represented in a pair of cultured pearl and eighteen-karat bi-color gold ear clips and clip brooch suite, estimated at $4,000–$6,000. Another noteworthy piece of the sale is an eighteen-karat gold Byzantine link chain necklace by Fred, estimated at $4,000–$6,000. Also featured in this sale are two brooches by Cubism pioneer, Georges Braque, estimated at $5,000–$7,000 and $4,000–$6,000.
Another feature of the sale is a selection of timepieces led by an eighteen-karat gold automatic wristwatch, Day-Date, Audemars Piguet, estimated at $8,000–$12,000; an eighteen-karat gold wristwatch, 150th Anniversary Perpetual, Ulysse Nardin, estimated at $12,000–$18,000; an eighteen-karat white gold wristwatch, Patek Phillipe, estimated at $5,000–$7,000; and a diamond and eighteen-karat gold wristwatch, Tank Francaise, Cartier, estimated at $5,000–$7,000.
Bidding for Clars’ April 14th, 2023 auction is available by phone, absentee bid, live online at and through and For more information about this auction, please contact

Clars Auction Gallery is based in Oakland (CA) and is the largest full-service auction gallery in the Western United States. Clars Auction Gallery has been the chosen auction gallery of a number of institutions and distinguished private collectors across the country including the Richard Mellon Scaife Estate, the Thomas J. Perkins Estate and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC).

In the last 5 years, Clars Auction Gallery has sold well over $125,000,000 of Fine Art, Furnishings, Jewelry, Vehicles and Collectibles and has set multiple new world auction records. Follow Clars on Facebook and Twitter!

To learn more about upcoming auctions, events and how to consign at Clars Auction Gallery please visit