S otheby’s New York’s Design Week concluded with a robust total of $32.3 million, outpacing the series’ high estimate of $29.5 million and with a strong overall sell-through rate of 86% by lot.
Our Design Week auctions began on Wednesday with the Modern Masters Sale, a timeless and unparalleled private collection of art and design by top European masters representing some of the most significant and taste-making innovations in design of the last century. The dedicated evening sale was led by a Chaise Longue ‘aux Skis’ by Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann that sold above estimate for $2.4 million (estimate $1.5/2 million). One of only two models known to exist, the luxurious work was originally designed by Ruhlmann in 1929 as part of a “Studio Chambre” suite commissioned confidentially by the then-heir to the Indore Kingdom of India, Yashwant Rao Holkar II. The suite included never-before-seen pieces of furniture, including the present chaise longue. Further highlights from the collection included a striking “Aigle” Vase by Alberto Giacometti that sold for $1.9 million after a seven-minute bidding battle between at least 2 collectors – more than three times its high estimate of $550,000.
Exceptional pieces of European design from the collection of celebrated designer Marc Jacobs were 91% sold, with an impressive 68.4% of all sold lots achieving prices above their high estimates. The sale was led by an outstanding ensemble of works by François-Xavier Lalanne, highlighted by a pair of patinated bronze monkeys, “Singe I” and “Singe II” from 1999 that sold for $860,000 and $920,000, respectively. In addition, a “Mouton de Laine” and “Petit Rhinocéros Mécanique" Condiment Holder both realized $680,000. Designed circa 1965 and executed in 2000, the patinated bronze and wool sheep was acquired by Jacobs during his first visit to Les Lalanne’s home in Ury, and became the first piece by the iconic duo in his collection. Accompanied by a set of custom-made Saint-Gobain glassware, the intimately-scale rhino is one of only three known variants and represents a dominate figure in Lalanne’s oeuvre. In total, nine works by François-Xavier Lalanne achieved $3.9 million – more than double their combined high estimate of $1.5 million and a testament to the continued demand for pieces by the Parisian icon.
An icon of modern American architecture, The Walker Guest House by Paul Rudolph sold for $920,000 leading Thursday’s Important Design auction. A carefully planned structure designed as a beach cottage overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the Walker Guest House was commissioned by Dr. Walter Willard Walker in 1952 for construction on his family’s land on Florida’s Sanibel Island. Joris Laarman’s “Bone” Chair achieved $620,000, leading the selection of contemporary design on offer. The work is perhaps the most widely recognizable model from this eponymous series, which also includes designs for an armchair, a chaise, a rocking chair, a bridge table and a bookshelf. The model has since become emblematic of contemporary design, masterfully embodying the correlation between art, functionality and technology. On offer from the collection of storied financier, collector and philanthropist, Robert Rubin, and his wife, Stéphane Samuel, a superb Rare “Kangourou” Armchair designed by French architect Jean Prouvé brought $400,000 – more than double its $180,000 high estimate. All proceeds from the sale of the armchair will benefit The Center on Global Justice at UC San Diego, and the work of Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman.
Rounding out the week, a selection of masterworks on offer by Tiffany Studios was led by an Important Hanging Head “Dragonfly” Lamp Table that topped its $700,000 high estimate to sell for $884,000. Exemplary of the model, the present work illustrates Tiffany’s affinity for this striking dragonfly subject, which was incorporated in myriad designs throughout the firm’s illustrious production, and its symbolism in both Japanese and Chinese cultures. This particular lamp is masterfully executed in a richly saturated color palette of purples, blues and greens, and complemented by its highly sculptural, reticulated “Queen Anne’s Lace” base.