It was a full house with many new faces that filled the Pasadena Convention Center on Tuesday, June 23rd, in anticipation of John Moran’s second California and American Paintings Sale for 2009. The number of new bidders and attendees perhaps reflects the change in investment strategies from Wall Street to tangible property. The sale was strong and money was spent with gross sales totaling just shy of $1 million on the 121 lots sold. Typical of Moran art sales, previous records were broken and, on June 23rd, three new world auction records were set.

The sale seemed to begin softly but that changed early on when bidder cards began to fly. Lot 14, an oil on panel by Dedrick Stuber entitled “Big Tujunga Wash” sold for well over estimate at $5,462. Just 10 lots later, an oil on board entitled “Casa de Pintores” by California artist Ralph Holmes (1876-1963) almost doubled its high estimate selling for $8,050. Moran holds the record for this artist when in February 2008, they sold “The Landing” for $13,800.

Results for the Maurice Braun offerings left no one disappointed, particularly lot 41, his signed oil on canvas entitled “A Bend in the Stream.” Estimated to bring $25,000 on the high side, this work sold to a pleased bidder for $31,625.

The first world record would come a few lots later when “Angels Flight Pharmacy, Bunker Hill, Los Angeles by Ben Abril (1923-1995) exceeded expectations selling for $13,800. The very next lot would secure Moran holding the second highest price realized for this artist when Abril’s “Summer 1959, Old Edison Building looking South from Bunker Hill Ave” would bring $12,650.

The most exciting and surprising sale of the evening was had on lot 72, a lovely oil on board by California artist Anna Katherine Skeele. “Child of Taos” would catapult Skeele to a whole new level. Estimated to bring $4-6,000, a bidding war ensued shortly after the opening bid. The increments jumped higher and higher until finally selling for a world record price of $40,250! This sale price solidly surpassed Bonham’s previous high from 2007 when they sold St. Francis and Flowers for $15,540.

The final world record of the evening was achieved late in the sale. “Reno” a signed watercolor and gouache on paper by Jack Laycox (California 1921-1984) was expected to earn $7,000 on the high side. Again competitive bidding for this engaging work drove the final price to $13,800. This sale price broke Moran’s own record for this artist when in October 2007, they sold “Under the Bay Bridge” for $6,325.

Among the other strong and notable sales was the $24,200 achieved for “Grand Canyon Vista” by Hanson Puthuff. $48,875 was realized on “Moonlit Poplars” by Birger Sandzen and “Down the Beach” by Phil Dike sold very well for $28,750.

John Moran’s next important auction of California and American Paintings will be held on October 13, 2009.

Several significant paintings have already been consigned for this sale including two oils on canvas by Maurice Braun both entitled “Eucalyptus” and a spectacular oil on canvas by William Wendt entitled “Spring.” Moran’s art sales feature California and American Impressionist oil paintings and watercolors painted prior to the 1950s.

John Moran’s next Antiques and Fine Furnishings Estate auction will be held in two sessions on Tuesday, July 28th. Among the highlights of this sale will be property from the Donald A. Cole Living Trust and collections from notable Beverly Hills and San Francisco estates.

Bidding for Moran sales is available in person, by phone, absentee and via the internet through All sales are held at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, California. their upcoming July 28th or October 13th sales or to consign, please call the offices of John Moran at (626) 296-6642 or visit