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Press Release - June 10, 2019

Stunning Pre-Columbian, Tribal Art from Private Collections Offered in Heritage Auctions’ Ethnographic Art Auction

Sale's rarities include mask from earliest known major Mesoamerican civilization


Pre Columbian art and artifacts
DALLAS, Texas (June 10, 2019) — A rare, Olmec mask headlines a trove of Pre-Columbian art featured in Heritage Auctions' Ethnographic Art: American Indian, Pre-Columbian and Tribal Auction June 25 in Dallas, Texas.

The Important Olmec Mask (estimate: $50,000-75,000) comes from the Robert and Carolyn Nelson Collection, and is life-sized, with finely carved facial features in high relief. The Olmecs were the earliest known major civilization in Mesoamerica, living in 1,200-400 B.C. in south-central Mexico, in the region that stretches over modern states of Veracruz and Tabasco.

"This is an extraordinary piece from Robert and Carolyn Nelson, who have assembled a world-class collection," Heritage Auctions Senior Ethnographic Art Specialist Delia Sullivan said. "Olmec art is very distinctive and in high demand among collectors. The Olmecs often worked in stone, specifically in faded jade, which they believed had ties to fertility and life generation, and Olmec artwork in greenstone has been coveted for centuries."

A Large and Important Diquis Gold Pendant (estimate: $15,000-20,000), from a private collection in Atlanta, Georgia, can be traced back to Enrique Vargas Alfaro, who in the 1960s was the source of high quality Pre-Columbian art sold to prestigious collections and appearing in such prestigious museums as the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, The Denver Art Museum and the William C. Carlos Museum. The pendant is a beautiful and detailed tumbaga piece, a standing shaman with the head of a crocodile holding a snake in its mouth.

Also from the Nelsons' Collection of Pre-Columbian Art is a Magnificent and Large Nazca Cushma ($15,000-20,000). Done in somewhat atypical colors, it is displayed to show the undulations natural to the tunic. It appears on page 18 of James W. Reid's 1987 Textile Masterpieces of Ancient Peru.

A Magnificent Chimu Textile , circa 1000-1450 A.D., ($8,000-12,000) includes two woven camelid fiber panels, each with a centered deity floated atop a stacked altar or pyramid and wearing an elaborate headdress with long appendages ending in a zoomorph. Each deity is flanked by a pair of frontal figures wearing asymmetrical headdresses and wide skirts.

A Large and Important Costa Rica Jade Axe God Pendant, circa 300-700 A.D., (estimate: $4,000-6,000) is carved from very fine, semi-translucent dark green jade with a high polish. The figure is carved in high relief and features grooves representing the spaces between fingers, teeth and a headband.

The auction also includes extraordinary tribal art, much of which comes from a single-owner collection, The Collection of Dr. and Mrs. John Finley of Dallas, Texas. This sale is the second in which Heritage Auctions is offering selections from the Finley's collection, which also includes Fine Art, Contemporary Art and African Art. Some of the highlights will include:

· A Large and Important Mambila Figure – Cameroon ($5,000-7,000)

· A Suku Mask – Democratic Republic of Congo ($2,000-3,000)

· A Dan/Guere Mask – Ivory Coast ($2,000-3,000)

Another stellar collection in the sale is a group of 60 lots from Professor Julia R. Weertman, from which highlights include:

· A San Ildefonso Blackware Plate Tony Da (estimate: $4,000-6,000)

· A Hopi Polychrome Seed Jar Attributed to Nampeyo c. 1915

In addition to the Pre-Columbian Art and Tribal Art, the auction features an extraordinary selection of American Indian art, including:

· An Iroquois Ball Head War Club ($60,000-80,000)

· Two Yokuts Coiled Baskets ($50,000-70,000)

· A Northwest Coast Chilkat Blanket ($30,000-50,000)

· John Nieto Medicine Man ($10,000-15,000)

· Assiniboine Girl's Pictorial Beaded Hide Cape ($3,000-5,000)

Images and more information about the nearly 700 lots in Heritage Auctions' Ethnographic Art: American Indian, Pre-Columbian and Tribal Auction can be found by visiting

Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world's largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.

The Internet's most popular auction-house website,, has over one million registered bidder-members and searchable free archives of four million past auction records with prices realized, descriptions and enlargeable photos. Reproduction rights routinely granted to media for photo credit.

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