San Rafael, Calif. — A curated selection of extraordinary and eclectic contemporary art, jewelry, and furnishings from the collection of world-renowned collector and philanthropist Chara Schreyer will be at auction at Fine Estate, Inc., of San Rafael on Nov. 19, 2023.
Schreyer is revered for her generous spirit and attention to detail — which translated to her skills as a natural matchmaker, storyteller (she spoke three languages), astute observer of life and undisputed visionary and collector of art that often pushed boundaries, provoked thought and united art lovers and novices alike. In recent years, Schreyer, who preferred the term “custodian” to “collector,” opened the doors of her homes to more than 6,500 acquaintances and strangers — through steadfast relationships with museums, nonprofits and arts and educational organizations — who were invited to tour her art collections and experience firsthand her unparalleled personal design style and art treasures procured from around the world.
Though a series of auctions of Schreyer’s art will also be held at Sotheby’s in New York in the coming months, in contrast, Fine Estate’s auction takes place mere miles from Schreyer’s longtime homes in Tiburon and San Francisco and offers her Bay Area friends, neighbors and fans the joy of celebrating her remarkable life and incomparable personal style at an opening Champagne reception on Thursday, Nov. 16, at 5 p.m. Fine Estate will also be open for previews, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 17 and Nov. 18, to welcome potential bidders to try on pieces of Schreyer’s jewelry and experience her cherished artwork up close prior to the live auction, which begins at 11 a.m. Nov. 19 and will be streamed on Liveauctioneers.com and Invaluable.com.
“Chara Schreyer was a fearless aesthete and international taste maker who was listed in ARTnews magazine’s 200 most important art collectors in the world for 17 years,” shares Gary Hutton, the San Francisco-based interior and furniture designer whose 40-year collaboration was the subject of Art House (co-authored by Alisa Carroll and photographed by Matthew Millman) with Schreyer, detailing her love of art and immense collection that was housed in five residences in Northern and Southern California.
“We worked together for 42 years, and I had the pleasure of witnessing her voracious study of art and fashion, which she used to guide her daily existence. … Her collection of art, jewelry and fashion expressed an edgy and progressive vision that was totally her own,” adds Hutton.
That edgy and progressive vision translates to the incredible array of items on auction at Fine Estate, including a breathtaking curation of wearable art: Schreyer’s signature oversize statement pieces handcrafted from precious and everyday materials ranging from silver, gold and steel to rubber, resin and acrylic. Schreyer eschewed old things — but valued that which was timeless. Nearly 200 lots of jewelry will be on auction, epitomizing the breadth of Schreyer’s passion for procuring bold and unusual sculptural pieces that leave a lasting memory and challenge the notion of jewelry as mere accessories.
One of Schreyer’s personal favorites, a carved wood, silver, and gemstone bracelet by Amedeo featuring a crowned monkey motif, is joined by jeweled nesting rings by Elie Top, a steel and 18K rose gold B.zero1 statement ring designed by Anoosh Kapoor for Bulgari, and numerous artisan pieces crafted from blackened silver and mixed metals. Over the years, Schreyer collected high-end jewelry by venerable houses like Lanvin, Balenciaga and Tiffany & Co., along with outstanding pieces created by under-the-radar and up-and-coming contemporary artisan jewelers — many of whom she discovered through local galleries and boutiques. Additionally, much of the jewelry featured in the auction has the distinction of being made by women designers, including Biba Schutz, Sheryl Lowe and Gabriella Kiss.
Other highlights of the auction include Schreyer’s beloved 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S (with only 16,400 miles), and a wide range of artwork and furnishings from the 20th and 21st centuries that exemplify her perpetual curiosity and gravitation toward the unusual, the masterful, and unforgettable conversation pieces. Included are several works by Robert Beck, one of a cadre of artists with whom Schreyer had forged a strong friendship; a painting by Oakland artist Squeak Carnwath; a work in charcoal on vellum by Chloe Piene; Takashi Murakami’s iconic Flowerball; and select mid-century furnishings.
About Chara Schreyer:
Chara Schreyer was born in Bavaria in 1947 and immigrated with her family to California at age 5. Schreyer studied art history at UC Berkeley and felt an unmistakable, life-changing shift in the way she perceived her own relationship to art when confronted with Robert Rauschenberg’s Collection at SFMOMA in 1969. She found the work mesmerizing and radical, and decided she wanted to collect artists like Rauschenberg who would change the course of art history.
She went on to build her collection and filled her homes in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles with more than 600 works that spanned masterpieces of the 20th century to works by emerging 21st century artists. Schreyer was a trustee of SFMOMA, MOCA Los Angeles and the Hammer Museum.
Schreyer’s history as the daughter of Holocaust survivors deeply informed her collecting, philanthropy and commitment to education. Art House, a book chronicling her homes and collection (Assouline, 2016) is now in its fifth printing. Making Strange: The Chara Schreyer Collection, co-authored by Douglas Fogle & Hanneke Skerath, (DelMonico Artbook | DAP) was published in 2021, featuring a study of her collection with essays by leading curators and scholars.
About Fine Estate:
Fine Estate, Inc., was founded by Martin Codina. Martin and his wife, Valetta Ciarla, have helped clients reach their personal property sales goals since 1996. Martin is the author of the book Liquidating an Estate (Krause Publications, 2013) and has the privilege and distinction of being the founding chair of the National Estate Sales Association.
By Fine Estate, Inc.
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