Massive Gilt Lacquer Wood Figure of Vairocana Sold for $379,200 at Julia’s Wall-Apelt Auction

Fairfield, Maine ~ March 23, 2015. James D. Julia Auctioneers was honored to have offered the spectacular Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt Asian collection recently. Dr. Wall-Apelt grew up in Germany during WWII. Her father was a prominent physician and he, together with his daughter, fled the Nazi regime to Switzerland. The dramatic upheaval in his life caused him to become reclusive and introspective. During that time, he developed a special devotion to the Eastern meditation and Asian arts as a way to deal with the pain and suffering of the war and its effects. Later after his passing, he bequeathed a group of cherished Asian objects to his daughter that had meant a great deal to him. The 15-year old Helga found herself alone with only these Asian mementos from her father. For decades afterward, not only would she cherish these items but they kindled her interest and respect and the pursuit of the Asian culture. Eventually she graduated from medical school and became a prominent doctor in Germany. Her interest in Asian medicine eventually culminated in her traveling to China to learn about acupuncture, herbal treatments and ancient healing techniques. She eventually became a doctor of acupuncture and ancient herbal healing techniques and moved to the United States to settle in Sarasota, Florida. After two years, she founded the East/West College of Natural Medicine in Sarasota, which offered Master’s degrees in Oriental medicine. Throughout this time, her Asian collection continued to grow. In 1990s she made a commitment to share her much beloved collection with the world. It was then she began the process of creating the Museum of Asian Art in Sarasota in which she placed on loan a number of her personal objects until the museum was dismantled some years later. One of her more favored collections she had acquired was what was referred to as the Yangtze River collection of later Chinese jades. This magnificent collection was loaned to the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida where it was exhibited from February until August 1993. A special book was made depicting and describing these very same jades.

Dr. Wall-Apelt made the decision to dispose of her vast collection of Asian objects that were stored in Sarasota, Florida. Attorneys representing Dr. Wall-Apelt specifically contacted Julia’s head Asian art consultant Jim Callahan in Julia’s Woburn, Massachusetts office because he has been a regular in the Asian Department on the Antiques Roadshow since its inception and is highly regarded for his expertise. After reviewing a portion of the collection initially, Callahan remarked that this was one of the better private collections he had handled in his long tenure of dealing with Asian arts. The collection was indeed magnificent and generated interest both here and abroad. To further showcase Dr. Wall-Apelt’s magnificent collection, the Julia firm made special arrangements to participate in the Asian Arts Week in New York City, where Dr. Wall-Apelt now resides. They took a large booth at the Bohemian Hall where many of the great international Asian art dealers were set up and Julia’s displayed many objects from the collection for people to preview.

The sale started off with the Yangtze River Collection of jades and one of the early lots up was a beautiful small double-sided white jade table screen with longevity theme. It carried a presale estimate of $20,000-30,000 and sold for just under $60,000. Next up was a pair of undecorated white jade palace style bowls that were estimated for $30,000-50,000 and sold for $41,475. A beautiful jade footed marriage bowl with bat decoration estimated at $4,000-6,000. It brought nearly five times high estimate, selling for $28,440. A pair of undecorated small white jade bowls estimated at $6,000-8,000 also brought $28,440. Jade objects that were not part of the Yangtze River Collection included a mottled yellow jade carving of a carp. Measuring only a few inches in length, it carried a modest presale estimate of $300-500. Strong competition from a great number of phone bidders and absentee bidders projected the final price to a phenomenal $37,920. The most exciting lot was a massive, larger than life gilt lacquer wood figure of Vairocana estimated at $40,000-60,000. The bidding continued well beyond estimate to ultimately land at $379,200. A great number of bronze figures, many depicting deities, included a large bronze Ming image of Amida Buddha estimated at $4,000-6,000 that sold for $41,475. A parcel gilt bronze Buddha on stand estimated for $5,000-7,000 went out at $41,075. A fearsome gilt bronze model of a snow lion carried an estimate of $1,500-2,500 and sold for $35,550. And a gilt bronze figure of Padmapani estimated at $16,000-18,000 sold for $29,625.

The auction continued with various ancient stone Asian art objects. One was a lovely and meditative seated stone Buddha estimated at $8,000-10,000 that sold for $28,440. A pair of beautiful large rare red lacquer and mother of pearl inlaid cabinets that graced Dr. Wall-Apelt’s home in Sarasota sold within its presale estimate for $24,885. One of the largest jade masses the company had ever seen was an enormous convoluted jade mountain with carving on all sides. It carried a presale estimate of $20,000-30,000 and sold for $27,255. A jade and hard stone inlaid woman’s silk collar mounted with beautiful jade and other stone objects was estimated at $2,000-4,000 and realized $14,220. A large sandstone model of a mythical lion was estimated at $8,000-10,000 and went out at $13,035. A large lacquer wood seated figure of Avalokiteshvara estimated at $6,000-8,000 sold for $9,480. A pair of huge jade screens was a good buy at $8,887. A Thangka of Shakyamuni was estimated at a conservative $300-500 but soared far above its high estimate to $6,517. A large silvered bronze Chinese mirror estimated at $2,000-3,000 also went out at $6,517. A beautiful carved piece of antique coral carved in a shape of a group of monkeys was exquisitely rendered and carried an estimate of $1,000-1,500. Its appeal and the bidding far surpassed the estimate to $4,740.

Despite the massive advertising, the global participation of bidders, there is always going to be over performers, under performers, and those that just don’t find buyers. One lot that surprisingly didn’t sell was a monumental rare pair of cast iron Buddhist lions from the Ming period (1368-1664). Not only were these beautifully and artistically rendered objects but the natural old rust brown patina was magnificent. These imposing, large, and impressive lions are truly a great rarity as over the centuries when demand for metal increased, objects such as these were usually melted down to make cannons or other military weapons. Somehow these extraordinarily rare objects escaped this fate and are still available for purchase. The final lot of the auction, Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt’s extraordinary world class collection of Asian photography, also failed to find a buyer. Numbering nearly 800 pieces, it was truly a treasure trove that illustrated China and various other Middle Eastern countries from a bygone era. Most of the photography dated to the 19th century and included some rare and much desired early photographers. At Dr. Wall-Apelt’s request, the collection was kept together as an entire collection. After spending a good portion of her life amassing this extraordinary collection and expending so much energy to bring it all together, it was her hope that someone else would value and treasure it as much as she had and continue to keep it together. Alas, there were no takers and at its $425,000-525,000 estimate. At press time, Julia’s stated that the consideration at this point in time is to break the photography down into smaller groups and offer it in their August 2015Asian Auction. Dr. Wall-Apelt is expected to make a final decision in this regard so any interested party in buying this extraordinary lot in total should contact Julia’s right away.

Julia’s upcoming auctions include their rare lamp & glass auction as well as their toy & doll auction in June. Their end of summer antiques, fine art, and Chinese artifacts auction will take place in August. Julia’s is currently accepting consignments for these and other upcoming auctions. Call immediately for inclusion in these exciting sales. For more information or to place offers on unsold items, contact their offices at 207-453-7125. James D. Julia, Inc., P.O. Box 830, Dept. PR, Fairfield, ME 04937. E-mail:

Image Description
Massive gilt lacquer wood figure of Vairocana, SOLD $379,200 (Est. $40,000-60,000)
Pair of undecorated small bowls, SOLD $28,440 (Est. $6,000-8,000)
Pair of undecorated white jade palace style bowls, SOLD $41,475 (Est: $30,000-50,000)
Gilt bronze image of Padmapani, SOLD $29,625 (Est: $16,000-18,000)
Parcel gilt bronze Buddha, SOLD $41,475 (Est: $5,000-7,000)
Seated stone Buddha, SOLD $28,440 (Est: $8,000-10,000)
Massive convoluted jade mountain, SOLD $27,255 (Est: $30,000-50,000)
Gilt repousse bronze mask of Bhairava, SOLD $28,440 (Est: $6,000-8,000)
Gilt bronze standing figure of Manjushri, SOLD $29,625 (Est: $20,000-30,000)
Large bronze Ming image of Amide Buddha, SOLD $41,475 (Est: $4,000-6,000)
Tsble screen with longevity theme, SOLD $59,250 (Est: $20,000-30,000)
Bronze image of Samanta Buddha, SOLD 26,070 (Est: $2,000-3,000)
Footed marriage bowl with bat décor, SOLD $28,440 (Est: $4,000-6,000)
Mottled yellow jade carving of a carp, SOLD $37,920 (Est: $300-500)
Gilt bronze model of a snow lion, SOLD $35,550 (Est: $1,500-2,500)