The ‘World’s Leading’ Purveyor of Tiki Decor Is Going Out of Business With a Fire-Sale Auction of Props, Mugs, and All Kinds of Knick Knacks

Oceanic Arts, a California business that has been selling Tiki decor for nearly 70 years, is closing as its owners retire.

The cover of Oceanic Arts: The Godfathers of Tiki, a book published on the occasion of the auction.

Do you own a dive bar or novelty restaurant, or run a business organizing bachelorette parties? Here’s your chance to make things a whole lot funkier.

One of the country’s oldest purveyors of all things Tiki, the kitschy (and and definitely problematic) American cultural take on South Pacific, Polynesian, Oceanian cultures, is closing forever and selling off its wares at auction. The sale takes place April 23 and 24.

Among the objects for sale are carved figurines, poles, lamps, island-appropriate clothing, rum-ready mugs, and vintage textiles, photographs, and paintings.

The sale comes as Oceanic Arts, a California company that calls itself the “world’s leading supplier of tropical and Polynesian decor,” closes after 66 years in business. Its owners, LeRoy Schmaltz and Bob Van Oostig, are retiring and consigning their collection to Peekaboo Gallery, an upstart auction house for themed artifacts and memorabilia.

An “Aku aku” Moai lighter design carved by LeRoy Schmaltz. Courtesy of Peekaboo Gallery.

An “Aku Aku” Moai lighter design carved by LeRoy Schmaltz. Courtesy of Peekaboo Gallery.

Some of the objects for sale are authentic, insofar as they hail from island countries. But there are also Disney props and mugs galore, and rental department props for decorators, photographers, and stage designers, all of them infused with the Tiki style made popular in the 1950s and ’60s as American soldiers returned from Japan and Korea with stories and souvenirs from the South Pacific.

The wares aren’t particularly valuable, with the majority of items estimated to be worth less than a couple hundred dollars. You can, for instance, score a Marquesan warrior carving for around $400, or a Māori-style table lamp for $300. Open your wallet a little wider and you can come home with an outrigger canoe for a few grand. 

Also available is Oceanic Arts: The Godfathers of Tiki, a coffee-table book on the history of the business of Tiki culture. 

The auction is set to take place at the Oceanic Arts warehouse in Whittier, California. Getting in may be a challenge—tickets for the event are already apparently sold out—but a portion have been set aside for sale the day of. Online bids will also be accepted.

The sale’s popularity makes sense: it is, according to Peekaboo, “undoubtedly, the largest intact vintage Tiki collection to ever come to the market and frankly, most probably ever will.” So there’s that.

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