NEW YORK - Sotheby’s June 19, 2007 sale of Important 20th Century Design brought a total of $10,796,080, above a high estimate of $9.4 million, and set records for a range of 20th century modernist designers from John Bradstreet to Ron Arad. The sale was highlighted by the outstanding price achieved for the Important and Rare Arm Chair from the living room of the Robert R. Blacker House in Pasadena, California, which sold for $913,600 (est. $700/900,000), the second highest price ever achieved for a work by the designers at auction. Auction records were also established for Serge Mouille, Ron Arad, Paul Evans, John Bradstreet, Edward Wormley, Jasper Morrison, Jack Rogers Hopkins, J.B. Blunk and Poul Voulther.
James Zemaitis, Senior Vice President and Director of Sotheby’s 20th Century Design Department, noted, “We were thrilled with the results for Bill Stewart’s collection and for the postwar and contemporary design in general. The market for organic postwar woodworks, from Moos to Nakashima, continues to explode.”
Leading off the auction were works from the private collection of noted interior designor Bill Stewart, who for three decades has been introducing postwar furniture into the lives and interiors of his many devoted clients around the country. The offering of 45 lots brought a total of $1,376,880, exceeding the pre-sale estimate of $597,500/886,000. Among the outstanding prices achieved was $252,000 paid for an Important and Rare “Liane” Five-Branch Floor Lamp by Jean Royère which had been estimated to sell for $60/90,000. A new auction record was established for Serge Mouille when his Important and Rare Three-Branch Floor Lamp, circa 1952, exceeded a high estimate of $70,000 to sell for $156,000. About 30 lots later, the second highest price for the designer was achieved when Mouille’s Five-Branch "Araignée" Ceiling Light brought $120,000, more than double the high estimate of $50,000. Both collaborative and individual works by Jean Prouvé and Charlotte Perriand also faired well, including the pair’s “Mexique” Bookcase from the Maison de Mexique, Cité Universitaire, Paris, circa 1953, which doubled a high estimate of $70,000 to sell for $114,000.
Strong prices were also achieved throughout the auction for contemporary design. Among the highlights was “After Spring” from 1992 by Ron Arad, which set a record for the designer at auction when it sold for $168,00 (est. $70/90,000). A new auction record was also set for Jasper Morrison, whose Handlebar Table from 1983 brought $27,600. A “PA 1” Bowl (2007), designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid for this auction, was sold for $54,000 with the proceeds benefiting the Wolfsonian-Florida International University Programs and Exhibition Endowment Fund and will qualify for state matching grant funds (est. $30/50,000).
The market for works from the postwar American craft movement also continued to surge. George Nakashima’s Superb “Conoid” Bench from the Japanese House, Pocantico Hills, New York, circa. 1974, from the collection of Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller was among the top ten selling lots of the auction, bringing $240,000, double the high estimate fo $120,000. Six works by the designer were offered by the International Paper Foundation on behalf of the Coins 4 Kids initiative, started by the company in 2004 to raise funds and awareness about the issue of world hunger, and raised $672,600, exceeding expectations (est. $141/208,000). The top lot of the offering was an “Odakyu” Cabinet from 1981 which sold for $234,000.
Sotheby’s reclaimed the auction record for Paul Evans with his Pair of Sideboards, from 1969, which soared to $150,000 against a high estimate of $90,000. The sale also included a section dedicated to the work of California designers. Among the most exciting prices achieved in this category were $60,000 paid for Jack Rogers Hopkins’ Editions Chair, and the $48,000 achieved for J.B. Blunk’s Coffee Table, both records for the designers at auction.
In addition to the outstanding price achieved for the Greene & Greene Important and Rare Arm Chair from the Blacker House, other highlights of the sale’s Arts & Crafts offerings included a Superb Side Chair designed by Greene & Greene for the Master Bedroom Suite of the Blacker House which sold for $396,000, and an Important "Jin-di-Sugi" Dining Suite for Mrs. John Blakeley by John Bradstreet which established a new record for the artist at auction when it sold for $348,000 (est. $150/250,000).