20th Century Design Sale Total $19,525,400

Sotheby’s December 2003 sales of 20th Century Design totaled $19,525,400 and were highlighted by the sale of Mies van der Rohe’s masterpiece, The Farnsworth House, which sold to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for $7,511,500. Competition was also fierce for Property from the Collection of Wolfgang Joop which brought a total of $4,678,860, surpassing a high estimate of $2.9 million. Alexandre Noll’s Important Carved Mahogany Armchair, from the Joop Collection sold for an extraordinary $680,000, establishing not only a record for the artist at auction, but also for Postwar Design and a 20th Century chair at auction. Additional auction records set over the three separate auctions include Louis Sognot and Charlotte Alix, Jacques Adnet, Jean Royère, Charlotte Perriand, Serge Mouille, Mies van der Rohe, John Risley John Mouseman Thompson and Ferdinand Parpan. The grand total of $19.5 million is a record for a series of 20th Century Design sales at Sotheby’s.

“The market for 20th Century Modernism continues its upward surge,” noted James Zemaitis, Senior Vice President and Director of Sotheby’s 20th Century Design Department. “In particular, there is an unquenched thirst for works with strong provenance by the French mid-century designers, as seen in the Joop Collection, as well as with works from the Bill Stewart Collection in our Important 20th Century Design Sale. We are extremely gratified by the results across the board, from Josef Hoffmann to Tom Sachs.”

The Farnsworth House – On the afternoon of December 12th, Mies van der Rohe’s masterpiece, The Farnsworth House, was purchased by The National Trust for Historic Preservation for $7,511,500, exceeding the high estimate of $6 million. The house was offered for sale by Sotheby’s International Realty, in cooperation with Koenig & Strey GMAC Real Estate and Sotheby’s on behalf of Lord Palumbo, as the last lot of the auction of Important 20th Century Design. After opening the bidding at $3.5 million, the auctioneer, President and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty, Stuart Siegel, fielded bids from The National Trust and one other unidentified bidder for more than seven minutes before the hammer fell.

Universally regarded as a seminal work of art, the house was commissioned by Dr. Edith Farnsworth, a member of a socially prominent Chicago family, and completed in 1951. In 1972 Lord Palumbo, art collector, philanthropist and former Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain, acquired the house from Dr. Farnsworth, beginning his collection of 20th century architecture. For the last 30 years Lord Palumbo has painstakingly restored the house to preserve its original design and in recent years has opened it to the public. Separate release available.

Property from the Collection of Wolfgang Joop – On the morning of December 12th, bidders battled for exceptional works from the Joop Collection by Jean Royère, Jean Prouvé, Jacques Adnet, Charlotte Perriand and Alexandre Noll among others, driving many prices to multiples of their estimates. Highlighting the sale, which brought a total of $4,678,860, was an Important Carved Mahogany Armchair from 1947 by Alexandre Noll which sold for $680,000, more than four times the high estimate of $150,000. The auction, which included furniture and design from Mr. Joop’s homes in New York, Potsdam and Monaco, had been estimated to bring $2/2.6 million.

Among the other exceptional prices achieved was a record $411,200 paid for Jacques Adnet’s unique and specifically-commissioned Bar for the Office of the President of Sud Aviation, circa 1940s, made of leather and red glass. Pursued by as many as four bidders, the bar had been estimated to sell for $60/90,000.

Selling for more than five times the high estimate of $60,000 was Jean Royère’s rare “Liane” Six-Branch Floor Lamp, circa 1950, which after a battle between five bidders finally sold for $310,400, a record for the artist at auction. Also by Royère was a Pair of Seven-Branch Floor Lamps, circa 1955 which sold for $102,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $50/70,000.

Another exceptional highlight was an important Charlotte Perriand Twin-Pedestal Desk, circa 1958, of a remarkable organic form, which sold for a record $377,600. The finest example of Perriand’s work to be sold at auction in New York, the desk had been estimated to sell for $80/120,000.

Additional highlights of the sale included an unusual work by John Risley, an iron and fruitwood screen, 1957, which soared past a high estimate of $24,000 to bring a record $187,200, and a Jardinière by Louis Sognot and Charlotte Alix, which sold for an extraordinary $181,600 against a pre-sale estimate of $5/7,000.

Important 20th Century Design – The sale of Important 20th Century Design held on December 12th totaled $5,019,120 against a pre-sale estimate of $4.8/6.8 million. Robust prices were achieved for works by many of the masters including Louis Comfort Tiffany and Rembrandt Bugatti, whose Lion de Nubie and Lionne de Nubie were the top two lots of the sale bringing $377,600 and $310,400 respectively.

Bidding was again strong for the work of Alexandre Noll and his Sycamore Chest of Drawers, from circa 1950, sold for $198,400 to an American Private Collector, the second highest price achieved for the artist at auction.

Additional highlights were Viktor Schreckengost’s “Jazz” punch bowl, circa 1931, which nearly doubled its high estimate of $90,000 to sell for a record $153,600, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Tree of Life window which sold for $114,000 against a high estimate of $70,000.

The work of Ferdinand Parpan was also fought-over, with the artist’s record at auction being broken twice during the course of the Joop auction, and a third time during the sale of Important 20th Century Design. His Éléphant sold for $31,200 against a pre-sale estimate of $6/8,000, achieving the title of record for the artist at auction.

Property from the Collection of Seymour Stein – Victorian paintings and drawings, and furniture and decorations from the 1920s and 30s from the Collection of Sire Records mogul Seymour Stein totaled $4,247,960 on December 11th. The results of the 20th Century Design section were strong, bringing $2,160,400, just below the high estimate of $2.4 million. Highlighting that section was the sleek chromium-plated aluminum bed designed by Louis Sognot and Charlotte Alix, circa 1930-1933, for the luxurious Modernist palace of the Maharaja of Indore which sold for $209,600, above the high estimate and a record for the pair at auction. Strong prices were also achieved for a rare five-piece salon suite covered with exquisite Aubusson tapestries designed by Raoul Dufy, circa 1930, formerly in the collection of Elton John, and a matched pair of sconces by Edgar Brandt, circa 1925, which sold for $209,600 and $120,000 respectively. Finally, a world record was established for the work of the Hagenauer firm, their four-piece band, circa 1930, estimated at $40/60,000, soaring to $108,000.

Published in: on December 17, 2003 at 10:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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