Thursday, December 10, 2009

La la la Lalanne!: Recap

One of the top Lalanne lots on the street in Rockefeller Center awaiting the trek to the warehouse

Ok, I know I have been beating a dead horse (elk, rabbit, hen, hippo...) with my doubts regarding Christie's Design sale offering 52 lots by the whimsical Lalannes. Well the results were explosive to say the least with a few lots reaching ten times the low estimate. All but two of the lots failed to find buyers contrary to what ArtInfo published after the sale. The two highest lots knocked down at $400,000 ($482,500 with premium) each against considerably lower estimates. They were a dramatic crocodile settee (est. $100,000-150,000) and a ginko coffee table (est. $40,000-60,000).

The auction room was abuzz with prospective buyers and the phone banks were full of Christie's staff bidding in many languages. With the wane of interest in works by Marc Newson, George Nakashima, Zaha Hadid, Ron Arad etc. it seems that the Lalannes are the "it" artists to collect and speculate upon at the moment. Surprisingly, amongst the bidders in the room was real estate enfant terrible Michael Shvo. He and his entourage managed to snap-up two sculptures amidst heavy bidding.

Offering so many lots by one artist is a calculated risk that definitely paid off for Christie's. Art world cognocenti are saying that the single owner portion of the Lalanne run came from a gallery's stock which is usually a disastrous proposition, but in this case not so.....not by a long shot.

As a post script it is very telling that the final lot of the sale the Voronoi Shelf by Marc Newson knocked down at $125,000 ($152,500 with premium), shy of its $150,000-200,000 estimate. The buyer was the sole bidder participating via telephone and bidding against the reserve, ouch.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christie's 20th Century Design

Well, as I noted in a previous post it is quite the Lalanne affair over at Christie's this December. However, the relative scale of the pieces does not make them overbearing and it was impressive to be able to compare so many designs under one roof. As I suspected the bulk of the 52 Lalanne lots come from a single collection. I am still not totally convinced that this flood of material all at once will bode well for the Lalanne market.

One unexpected surprise was a rather organic bookcase by Marc Newson. While I do feel his works have been overexposed at auction this is a very compelling piece. Once again the artist has pushed the envelope, utilizing technology to bring a traditional material to a new level. The Voronoi Shelf #1 is hewn from a single monumental slab of marble in an organic and cellular arrangement. The work was conceived and exhibited in an edition of 8 at Gagosian in 2006. There was quite a buzz at the time and the edition evidently sold out. We will have to wait and see if the rarity and deliciousness of this recent work will be enough to reach the $150,000-200,000 estimate.
Marc Newson, Voronoi Shelf (#1 of 8), white carrara marble, 2006