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SMITH: About that painting, and that brooch

Good news came about the painting that might have been sold for next to nothing at a Healdsburg estate sale, and about chef Domenica Catelli's piece of family jewelry that sadly did sell for such a price at a Healdsburg garage sale.

First the painting. It's the small oil of a big-horned sheep that lay for who knows how long beside a freezer in the basement of the late Jim and Shirley Modini's ranch northeast of Healdsburg.

As Gaye LeBaron noted earlier in May, the Modinis left the 1,700-acre ranch to the Audubon Canyon Ranch.

Their neighbor and trustee, Judy Johnston, held an estate sale last fall for the benefit of the land conservancy. She could have slapped a $20 sticker on the painting.

But Healdsburg jeweler Tim Gordy spotted it when Johnston had him over to help assess some of the Modinis' jewelry. Gordy noticed the initials "A.B." on the painting and suggested that Johnston have it looked at by someone who knows art.

So she showed it to friend Adriane Iann, a board member of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Iann urged, "Take it to Bonhams."

Fast forward to Wednesday, when the Bonhams auction house in New York sold the painting — by famed American West landscape artist Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) — to a buyer who took part in the auction by phone.

The check Bonhams will cut to Audubon Canyon Ranch will be a piece of art in the amount of $38,000.

AND THE BROOCH! A grateful Domenica Catelli has it back — thanks to another alert Healdsburg jeweler.


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