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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.

Domenica, the chef at her family’s landmark Geyserville restaurant, lost the platinum-and-diamonds family heirloom and other less valuable yet sentimentally priceless jewels to a goof at a garage sale at her former home.

Days ago, third-generation Healdsburger Greg Meier read about the brooch in this column. He knew it was the same one that a local man had brought into his Jeweler’s Studio to verify it wasn’t costume jewelry.

Meier alerted Domenica, who reached out to the man, who did right and returned her grandmother’s brooch.

10 YEARS AND O’DAY: Tough to believe it was 2003 when 20-year-old Patrick O’Day became the first Sonoma County casualty of the war in Iraq.

Memories of the Marine were as present as the Harleys and grilled tri-tips when several members of his family met with about three dozen vets last weekend for a motorcycle ride and a Healdsburg barbecue in his honor.

The daughter Patrick never met, Kylee Marie, was the only person there not surprised she’s already 10.

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.)

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