Published: March 26, 2002
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. – A crowded auction room broke into applause Sunday, March 17, after a collector paid nearly $190,000 for a brushed aluminum two-piece coffee table, one of three examples known, setting a world record. Butterfields and Los Angeles Modern Auctions offered Twentieth Century decorative arts, furniture, art glass and fine art in an auction bringing more than $1.255 million.
Frederick Kiesler’s freeform nesting tables, custom manufactured for the designer’s friend and patron Martin Janis in 1935, were estimated at $100/125,000. Bidding opened at $80,000 and steadily climbed as a client seated in Butterfields’ Los Angeles salesroom competed with a telephone bidder.
The selling price of $189,875 sets a record for the designer’s work. Two other examples of Kiesler’s nesting tables reside in museum collections — at the Museum of Modern Art and within a traveling exhibit organized by the Carnegie Museum of Art. The successful buyer was not unidentified.
Another record price was set for a custom-manufactured Sam Maloof rocker of walnut and leather that brought $23,375, the most ever paid at auction for a Maloof rocking chair. This chair, manufactured in 1968, bears a stamp and metal label. It sold to a bidder seated in the salesroom. Internet bidding during the auction was competitive and more than 20 percent of the lots sold online.
A Glen Lukens glazed 18-inch wide ceramic bowl designed circa 1955 and bearing his painted signature brought a record $23,375 after serious bidders battled, the lot having opened at under $1,000.
A set of Russel Wright flatware comprising 54-pieces — knives, forks, tea and soup spoons — sold for a record $16,450. The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is currently exhibiting examples of Wright’s designs.
Strong sellers included $40,625 (more than four time the estimate) paid for a Tiffany Favrile glass Dragonfly lampshade on a Tiffany-style bronze base and $17,625, more than twice the estimate, for a Tiffany Studios Favrile glass and gilt bronze lamp circa 1899-1920.
A Jacques Adnet leather-covered desk of brass and steel, designed circa 1950, sold within estimate for $18,775. The same amount was paid for a circa 1934 Rudolph M. Schindler “Unit” chair designed for the Van Patten residence.
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