If you’ve always wanted to own a piece of defunct law firm Heller Ehrman, today is your lucky day. A sizable portion of the firm’s art collection is hitting the auction block in about an hour, at Bonhams & Butterfields in San Francisco.
We previously covered a prior Heller art auction, here in New York, but that sale involved just a handful of pieces. The auction taking place today — and starting very soon, at 10 a.m. Pacific time (or 1 p.m. Eastern time) — is much larger in scope.
So what’s up for sale? And how can you get a piece of the action?
The auction house responsible for selling off the Heller Ehrman art, Bonhams, describes the holdings in a press release:
More than 340 works of art from the 118-year-old international law firm, founded and headquartered in San Francisco, will be offered to bidders, including paintings, prints, photography and sculpture. Heller Ehrman LLP closed its doors in September of 2008.
The works offered in this sale were collected over many decades. Emanuel Heller, a director at the California School of Fine Arts, had installed paintings from his own collection within the firm’s offices. Over the ensuing years, the firm continued to support the arts and worked with noted art consultants, galleries and local artists to expand its collections. Ultimately, the firm amassed more than 600 works displayed in more than a dozen offices worldwide.
So today’s sale represents over half of the Heller collection — and it includes some impressive pieces:
Collectors will vie for a half-dozen desirable blown-glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly, including examples from the renowned artist’s “Macchia” and “Persian” series, estimates ranging from $3,000 to $7,000. Several lots comprise 2003 works by Nancy Mee comprising glass, metal and stone, offered with estimates from $3,000 to $5,000. An interesting 40-inch high wood sculpture by the British artist David Nash is titled Rip Cut Stack, expected to sell for $5/7,000. Another large work in wood is by Steve Jensen, titled Fishnet, 2000, estimated at $3/5,000.
Take a spin through the collection here, and find out how to make a purchase here.
If you see something that catches your eye, you should definitely lob in a bid. Auction proceeds go to a good cause: paying off Heller Ehrman’s creditors.
Based on what happened at the New York auction, where several items sold above their high estimates, we’re expecting the competition to be fierce. But bargains may still be available.
“The Monday auction is expected to be very active, as the lot by lot estimates are far below the prices paid when the firm acquired the works from noted galleries — a true buying opportunity for art lovers looking for investments, and for former staff of the legal firm reminiscing,” said Levi Morgan, a Bonhams spokesperson. “At least one attorney intends to buy the painting that hung in his office.”
Many attorneys who leave large law firms don’t want to be reminded of their former workplaces. So it’s a testament to Heller’s humaneness that one of its alums wants to acquire an artwork that used to stare him in the face as he billed away the hours.
Heller was no ordinary law firm. Perhaps it was too pure for this world?
UPDATE: We’ve now had the chance to spin through the full collection. Here are two works that jumped out at us:
1. The blogger behind Heller Highwater should look into purchasing Lot 322.
2. Lot 99 should be in high demand — just change the title of the work to “Lover of (Billable) Time.”
3. The ship be sinking?
The Art Collection of Heller Ehrman LLP to be Offered at Auction by Bonhams & Butterfields [Bonhams]
Contemporary Art from the Heller Ehrman LLP Collection [Bonhams]
Earlier: ATL Field Trip: The Heller Ehrman Art Auction
Anatomy of a Dissolution: The Heller Art Auction