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Monumental ‘Sputnik’/starburst chandelier with illuminating glass spikes, $19,520. PBMA image

Evans ‘Cityscape’ pieces soar at Palm Beach Modern auction

Monumental ‘Sputnik’/starburst chandelier with illuminating glass spikes, $19,520. PBMA image
Monumental ‘Sputnik’/starburst chandelier with illuminating glass spikes, $19,520. PBMA image
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Palm Beach Modern Auctions’ (PBMA) autumn-themed Nov. 22 sale included the most expensive grouping of furniture ever to be offered by the company. Buyers signaled their approval of the carefully curated selection with bids that set records for many specific designers and resulted in an 85 percent sell-through rate (by lot). The 400-lot auction grossed $850,000, inclusive of 22 percent buyer’s premium.

Internet live bidding was facilitated by LiveAucitoneers.com.

“As we prepare for each auction, we analyze the market and study recent buying trends,” said PBMA auctioneer and co-owner Rico Baca. “We do not use a preset formula in selecting what to include in our sales. Instead, we try to identify what collectors currently want, then pick pieces that are the best possible representations from categories that are trending positively. Based on the results we’re seeing with some consistency, I’d say this method is working quite effectively.”

Furniture and lighting designs by Paul Evans (American, 1931-1987) – whose star continues to soar within the auction marketplace – attracted broad geographic interest on Nov. 22. Ten of the 11 Evans “Cityscape” pieces entered in the sale were sold, with several garnering record prices for their respective forms. Among them was a mixed-metal cabinet/dry bar that reached $48,800 (est. $20,000-$30,000), a record for a design exhibiting Evans’ distinctive patchwork technique.

Lighting was popular across the board and lit up the auction room as Baca hammered one record price after another, either for an artist’s general classification or specific form. Among the top lots that landed in record territory were a pair of rare Tommi Parzinger floor lamps, $7,930; a pair of Karl Springer floor lamps, $9,760; and a Sergio Rodrigues (Brazilian, 1927-2014) “Sergio Augusto” floor lamp, $5,185.

“Sergio Rodrigues is a name to watch. American, French and Italian midcentury design is well established in the secondary market, but Brazilian midcentury is still a relatively new category and one that we enthusiastically support,” said Baca. “Rodrigues was the acknowledged father of modern Brazilian furniture design, and in terms of quality, his pieces are top tier. His furnishings are also comfortable and utilitarian, so they meet the three criteria that place them in a very desirable league.”

Italian lighting was in particularly strong demand. A pair of large, five-arm Stilnovo sconces commanded a record $20,740 (est. $10,000-$15,000), while a monumental Italian “Sputnik”/starburst chandelier with illuminating glass spikes followed an upward flight path before settling at $19,520.

Italian furniture enjoyed an equally impressive level of success, led by an Alberto Rosselli “Confidential” sectional sofa and chair, which knocked down a record price of $15,860. A pair of rare and early Marco Zanuso “Milord” lounge chairs settled in at $11,590.

Two pairs of chic slipper chairs designed by American William “Billy” Haines were offered as consecutive lots, each having an estimate of $4,000-$6,000. The first pair realized $6,710, while the second pair took it bit farther at $7,320. Both results exceeded the previous record for the form. A Philip and Kelvin LaVerne “Spring Festival” occasional table estimated at $2,000-$4,000 rose to $7,930 – “not a record but still a noteworthy sale,” Baca said. All of the Donald Deskey “Micarta” furniture offered, and almost all of the Walter Lamb California-style outdoor furniture, found new owners.

Bidding was active on the more-expensive items, whether they met their reserves or not. “We always encourage consignors to think carefully about their reserves,” Baca said. “We offered a pair of fine Gio Ponti chairs that would have sold to an online bidder for $16,000 or $17,000, had the reserve been just a bit lower. The chairs were of a type that previously sold in the $10,000-$15,000 range. After the sale, the consignor told us he would have accepted the top bid placed on the chairs, but we had to follow the instructions we had been given. They didn’t reach their reserve, so they didn’t sell.”

An upbeat event, the Nov. 22 auction drew 125 people to the venue and another 560 online through LiveAuctioneers. Phone and absentee bidders represented no fewer than 13 countries on four continents. Baca said in-house bidders were enthusiastic and applauded whenever high prices were achieved. They also were treated to a complimentary catered buffet of autumn soups, savory sweet potato pies, ham sliders, turkey sandwiches and a choice of fall-harvest desserts.

Baca said he is confident that the buoyant prices paid at the November sale will encourage consignors to part with even higher-end pieces than before.

“Consignors like to test the waters,” he said. “They’ll give you a piece to sell the first time around, but not their most expensive piece. If you do well with it, then they’ll entrust you with their top-end items. With each sale, we’re seeing more consignments of ten-, twenty- and thirty-thousand-dollar pieces.”

Palm Beach Modern Auctions will conduct a Modern Design & Art Auction on Jan. 17 featuring dress designs and correspondence between Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her designer; and 50 lots of luxury goods. The latter grouping includes a coveted Hermes Birkin and Kelly bags, and one of five exclusive backpacks created by Louis Vuitton.

To contact PBMA, tel. 561-586-5500 or email info@modernauctions.com. Visit the company online at www.modernauctions.com.

Click here to view the fully illustrated catalog for this sale, complete with prices realized.

Click here to view the fully illustrated catalog for this sale, complete with prices realized.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Monumental ‘Sputnik’/starburst chandelier with illuminating glass spikes, $19,520. PBMA image
Monumental ‘Sputnik’/starburst chandelier with illuminating glass spikes, $19,520. PBMA image
One of two pairs of William ‘Billy’ Haines slipper chairs offered consecutively. The pairs sold for $6,710 and $7,320, respectively. PBMA image
One of two pairs of William ‘Billy’ Haines slipper chairs offered consecutively. The pairs sold for $6,710 and $7,320, respectively. PBMA image
Large Emil Stejnar chandelier, $7,625. PBMA image
Large Emil Stejnar chandelier, $7,625. PBMA image
Tommi Parzinger floor lamps with pierced brass shades, $7,930. PBMA image
Tommi Parzinger floor lamps with pierced brass shades, $7,930. PBMA image
Rene-Jean Caillette cabinet with bi-fold doors revealing two interior shelves, $6,710. PBMA image
Rene-Jean Caillette cabinet with bi-fold doors revealing two interior shelves, $6,710. PBMA image
Stilnovo five-arm sconces or ceiling lights, $20,740. PBMA image
Stilnovo five-arm sconces or ceiling lights, $20,740. PBMA image
Marco Zanuso ‘Milord’ lounge chairs, $11,590 the pair. PBMA image
Marco Zanuso ‘Milord’ lounge chairs, $11,590 the pair. PBMA image
Paul Evans mixed-metal cabinet/dry bar, $48,800. PBMA image
Paul Evans mixed-metal cabinet/dry bar, $48,800. PBMA image
Sergio Rodrigues ‘Sergio Augusto’ floor lamp, $5,185. PBMA image
Sergio Rodrigues ‘Sergio Augusto’ floor lamp, $5,185. PBMA image