Los Angeles, CA – Moran’s is smashing records with their Made in Mexico Auction, the first of the biennial events of 2022, presented over 2 days on Tuesday, February 15, and Thursday February 17. Devoted fans with boundless enthusiasm braved the internet server issues, stayed the course, and waited patiently to bid on a treasure trove of Mexican jewelry as well as Latin American and Central American jewelry, fine art, pottery, and woodwork. The wait was definitely worth it, as the Made in Mexico auction ultimately achieved a 133% result by value, with a 96% sell-through rate by lot.

More than 200 lots of mostly mid-20th Century silver Mexican jewelry from preeminent designers, including William Spratling, Antonio Pineda, Matl, Fred Davis, and Hector Aguilar, found new homes and led to our outstanding results, establishing Moran’s as a world leader auction house for Mexican jewelry. Moran’s now holds record prices for jewelry in most categories, selling more than four times as many lots as other auction houses of William Spratling pieces, with over 445 lots sold, as well as selling over 450 works by Antonio Pineda. Moran’s would like to thank all of our loyal jewelry buyers for making us a world leader!

A Michoacán pottery pineapple jar, by Hilario Alejos Madrigal $300-$500 Sold: $2,000

A Michoacán pottery pineapple jar, by Hilario Alejos Madrigal $300-$500 Sold: $2,000

Holding record prices in most categories, jewelry was indeed the highlight of a dazzling auction, and the results reflect Moran’s standing as premier seller of not only William Spratling and Antonio Pineda, but works by Héctor Aguilar, Fred Davis, Matl, Salvador Terán and others. Over 30 lots of William Spratling pieces were offered on the block, including jewelry and decorative items. Loyal fans stepped up and competed to buy nearly all lots, with the highlights being iconic favorites in necklace and bracelet styles. A pair of Spratling link bracelets, with stylized cross motifs, Lot 128, achieved a superb $3,750 (with buyer’s premium), well beyond an estimate of $700-$900. Another stunning Spratling link bracelet, Lot 107, went to adorn a new wrist, with a pleasing $3,125 (with buyer’s premium), flying high above an estimate of $800-$1,200. Many works doubled their high estimate, including a Spratling First Design Period silver and rosewood necklace featuring six carved delicate rosewood hands, Lot 113, estimated at $1,000-$1,500 and ultimately selling for $4,375 (with buyer’s premium). We have to hand it to our bidders who stuck with us during the server meltdown in California, as this was one of the last lots sold on Tuesday, before resuming strong sales on Thursday.

With over 450 Antonio Pineda items under our belts (Lascaux style included!), it is no surprise that this auction had a high sell-through rate for our featured Pineda lots. It has been said that Pineda is notable for using more semiprecious stones than any of the other Taxco School silver artists, or “Taxquenos.” Many of our Pineda lots dazzled buyers with unusual and striking stones, including Lot 199, a silver and amethyst bracelet doubling its high estimate of $700-$900 to finish at $2,250 (with buyer’s premium). Two more Pineda lots with interesting stones achieved well above estimate, with Lot 178, group of delicate mother of pearl and silver foliate design jewelry, finishing at $4,062.50, estimated at $800-$1200. Lot 170, an ethereal silver and moonstone foliate design pendant and chain shone brightly to finish at $2,812.50 (with buyer’s premium), significantly more than double an estimated $700-$900.
Other firm favorites in the jewelry category with strong results were Mathilde Poulat’s elaborate Matl pieces. Poulat’s work reflects influences of early Mexican design aesthetics, such as the popular folk art dove motif featured in some of the featured results. Lot 95, a pair of Matl silver and coral dove earrings flew away to finally land at $2,125, (with buyer’s premium), miles away from an estimated $200-$300. Any Matl collector would be delighted to add these iconic dove earrings to match their favorite Matl necklace. Of two potential high-flying necklaces in the auction, perhaps Lot 84, a sterling silver filigree necklace, achieving $5,312.50 (with buyer’s premium), estimate $2,000-$3,000, with a segmented dove motif centerpiece with lively colors of coral, amethyst, and turquoise and silver fringe would be the matching one!

“Poulat’s work reflects influences of early Mexican design aesthetics, such as the popular folk art dove motif featured in some of the featured results.
A Pair of Matl Silver and Coral Dove Earrings $200-$300  Sold: $2,125

A Pair of Matl Silver and Coral Dove Earrings $200-$300  Sold: $2,125

Moran’s also holds the record for the top three jewelry lots by Salvador Terán. Recent results confirm the popularity of Terán, a Taxco-born artist who received his early training at William Spratling’s Taller de Las Delicias. In 1939, he and his cousins left Spratling to establish Los Castillo. In 1952, Terán decided to establish his own taller in Mexico City. His designs often reveal Pre-Colombian inspiration, while the use of shadow-box backgrounds also lends his work a graphic, sometimes surrealistic quality. This is certainly the case with five lots of silver jewelry groups by Terán, meeting or achieving well over top estimates, including Lot 278, a group of three Salvador Terán interchangeable silver and hardstone pendants on a rich black velvet cord, reaping a top price of $2,000 (with buyer’s premium), from an estimate of $300-$500. Salvador Terán is also well known for his mosaic pieces, usually decorative items in brass with brightly colored glass inlay in modernist designs. Several lots of brass and mosaic inlay sets by Terán met or surpassed estimates, such as Lot 194, a mosaic and brass drink set, selling for $1,187.50 (with buyer’s premium), estimated at $300-$500. Terán’s bar sets will certainly add color and texture to their new owners’ tables.

Jewelry was not the only category to achieve exceptional results. Fine art also shared in the glory, with five works by artist Roberto Gil De Montes. Raising the bar each time, his dynamic works, including Lot 188, “Untitled,” 1992, a pastel drawing, estimated at $800-$1,200, finished at $4,062.50 (with buyer’s premium), and Lot 252, a group of two acrylic paintings, “Boyhood Dreams,” 2007, and “’Napoleon’ The Lie,” 2007, achieved $8,125 (with buyer’s premium), from an estimated $300-$500, reached new heights in this auction. However, lot 253, another group of two paintings, “Man with blue face”, 2003, and “New Penitente” [sic], 2005, stole the show and rode away to finish at $11,250 (with buyer’s premium), well above an estimate of $300-$500.

Born in Guadalajara in 1950, Roberto Gil De Montes moved to the United States in the 1960s where he later received a BFA and MFA from Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles. As a young artist, he became involved in the Chicano art movement around Los Angeles. In the 1980s, he returned to Mexico City, working at the Museo de Arte Moderno and on Artes Visuales, a prestigious arts journal that explored visual culture in Latin America. Roberto later returned to Los Angeles to concentrate on his painting and began to exhibit widely. He also became involved in the creation of LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions) and exhibited with Jan Baum Gallery, the only gallery at that time to show Black, Latinx and Asian artists on the West Coast. In 2000, he and his partner moved to La Peñita, a fishing town on the Pacific coast of Nayarit, Mexico, where he continues to paint in a studio directly overlooking the town plaza, a block from the coast. His abstract, vibrant, often irreverent paintings explore “hidden images and forgotten or imagined stories” of observed everyday life. “The canvas is fertile terrain on which to realign the spaces between the real and the imaginary: figures float in abstraction or are laid across surfaces, misfits and explorers in their own habitat.” (Notes: www.kurimanzutto.com/artists/roberto-gil-de-monte)

Ceramics and pottery items of all shapes and sizes held their own, including Lot 33, a Pre-Colombian-style Jalisco ceramic figure of a seated warrior, which reached $1,625 (with buyer’s premium), estimated at $750-$900, and a striking Michoacán pottery pineapple jar, Lot 191, by Hilario Alejos Madrigal achieving more than double the estimate of $300-$500 to finish at $2,000 (with buyer’s premium). There was also significant success for many lots of the lively Tonalá pottery of Jalisco, including Lot 164, a group lot menagerie of lively animal figures and themed plates which captured a buyer’s imagination to soar to $1,500 (with buyer’s premium), beyond an estimate of $200-$400.
Finally, the auction featured several rustic wood furniture items. A Guatemalan colorful hand-painted wood trunk, Lot 303, won a lucky buyer’s heart, finishing at $1,875, (with buyer’s premium) from an estimate of $500-$700.

The next installment of Made in Mexico is slated for August. Now is the time to ask: what do you have that you would like to have valued? It would be so exciting to be part of another record-breaking sale! Better yet, what will you buy and add to your collection??

Sally Andrew, John Moran Auctioneers

A Guatemalan hand-painted wood trunk, circa 1930s $500-$700   Sold: $1,875 

A Guatemalan hand-painted wood trunk, circa 1930s $500-$700   Sold: $1,875 

Upcoming Auctions

Winter Modern & Contemporary: Tuesday, March 1st | 12:00 pm PST
The James M. Cole Collection of American Indian Art: Tuesday, March 15th | 10:00 pm PST
Redesigned: Tuesday, March 22nd | 12:00 pm PST
California Living: Tuesday, April 5th | 12:00 pm PST
The Traditional Collector: Tuesday, April 12th | 12:00 pm PST
California & American Fine Art: Tuesday, April 26th | 12:00 pm PST
Fine Jewelry and Timepieces: Tuesday, May 3 | 12:00 pm PST
Art of the American West: Tuesday, May 24th | 12:00 pm PST
Post-war & Contemporary Art + Design Art of the American West: Tuesday, June 21st | 12:00 pm PST

John Moran’s takes the health and safety of our staff and customers seriously; as such, sales will continue to be held online and without a live audience. However, each item is available for public preview. Moran’s auction showroom is over 10,000 square feet and allows clients to preview objects within established social distancing guidelines so that buyers can feel confident when making an appointment to preview the property. For upcoming highlights, online catalogues, and more information on these sales, visit Moran’s website: www.johnmoran.com. Bidding is now available online via Moran’s new mobile app, Moran Mobile, available on both iOS and Android operating systems. Live bidding on a desktop is available through our website; bidding is also supported by telephone or absentee.
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