Sunday, June 20, 2010

NYC Design Sale Wrap-Up

I am not one to be smug, perish the thought, but I was pleasantly surprised to see my predictions realized. Unfortunately, both the Rateau screen and the Normandie panels crashed and burned when they hit the auction block last week. The Normandie panels were clearly too expensive and unrelated to make a cohesive offering, but the Rateau Screen was another story altogether... I previewed the sales and the screen left me dumbfounded. It was massive, definitely one of those cases where you need to focus in on the published dimensions as it was nearly 15 feet tall. The quality was unmatched for sure and it had sufficient age and patina making its authenticity above reproach. Too bad the deeper history was not known. If it could have been tied to a boldface name like Jeanne Lanvin it very likely would have sold. There is no doubt in my mind that it will sell discreetly via an after sale offer and it will likely turn up again restored to its former glory. The most expensive lot of the week was sold at Christie's. The lot in question was the exceptional Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann "Lasalle" commode that knocked-down for an astonishing $614,000 (with premium) against an estimate of $150,000-200,000. To blow through an estimate to this degree it definitely went to a private individual who was competing against other deep-pocketed collectors.
It is impressive for sure, but it was a bit more sun faded in person with a slightly greenish cast that is just faintly evident in the catalogue illustration. That however did not seem to matter, as I have said before, if the YSL and Dray sales taught us anything it is that rare top-tier art deco works are almost infallible at auction these days. The travesty of the week was the Lalanne zoomorphic bar that tanked at Christie's. Like the Rateau screen the catalogue did not convey the sheer monumentality of the work. With the explosive Lalanne results achieved this past December I thought for sure this devilishly clever bar would find a home, alas no...

Perhaps at $500,000-700,000 the price was just too steep. I for one thought it would fly at that price, pun intended...

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