Adnet and Quinet midcentury works were in strong demand at LAMA

Jacques Adnet sideboard cabinet, estimated at $10,000-$15,000 at LAMA.

LOS ANGELES – Mid-century works by the modernist architects and interior designers Jacques Adnet (1900-1984) and Jacques Quinet (1918-1992) were in strong demand at Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA). A trio of pieces in their signature leather-clad style brought five-figure sums on February 28. Complete results are available at LiveAuctioneers.

While Adnet began his career in the heyday of Art Deco Paris, it is increasingly his post-war work — a modern take on the traditional French country house interior — that the market admires most. Particularly coveted are the range of elegant furniture designs with tubular metal frames clad in saddle-stitched leather, made between the late 1940s and late 1950s. Aimed at the very highest-end clients (Adnet’s high-profile interiors projects in this period include the renovation of French President Vincent Auriol’s private apartments at the Palais de l’Elysée), they were made in association with the luxury leather goods house Hermès.

Dated circa 1955 was a 7ft 4in (2.24m)-wide sideboard cabinet of three drawers and two doors in black leather over a steel and oak frame. Mounted in lacquered brass (a gallery, handles, and fittings to the ‘bamboo’ pillars), it was described as being ‘in good vintage condition’, with the leather refinished. Estimated at $10,000-$15,000, it took $35,000 ($45,850 with buyer’s premium) as 86 bidders ‘watched’ on LiveAuctioneers.

It was unsigned, but a similar six-shelf library book stand and ladder attributed to Jacques Adnet and dated circa 1960 hammered for $28,000 ($36,680 with buyer’s premium) against the same estimate.

Working at the same time for a similar clientele, Jacques Quinet was another proponent of functional design that married the ‘new’ of fabricated tubular steel and the warmth of organic materials such as tropical hardwood, leather, rattan, and lacquer. He also used leatherette, the then-recently available artificial fabric that was both cheaper and required less maintenance.

His series of desks that were installed in the Mobilier National and the residence of General Eisenhower at Marne-la-Coquette are prized by decorators and collectors. The February 28 LAMA sale had a circa-1950 President desk in rouge leather, brass, and oak veneer, offered in ‘very good vintage condition’, which hammered for $30,000 ($39,300 with buyer’s premium) against $10,000-$15,000.

Among the most popular American-designed pieces in the sale was a set of six enameled steel Model 132U chairs by Donald Knorr. This was the design for which Knorr shared first prize at the influential ‘Low Cost furniture Design’ competition organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1948. However, it was only made by Treitel Gratz of New York for two years. The six chairs hammered well above estimate at $22,000 ($28,820 with buyer’s premium).

The top price of the sale was shared by an Alexander Calder (1898-1976) tapestry — one of two in the lineup from the series made to raise money for victims of the earthquake that afflicted Nicaragua and Guatemala in December 1972. Local workers, using traditional techniques and jute rather than wool, were paid four times their usual rate to complete the project. There are 14 different designs, with each made in an edition of 100. A Floating Circles tapestry, number 38 from the edition of 100, was the one that tied for top-lot honors, hammering at $35,000 ($45,850 with buyer’s premium), while a second Calder tapestry in the Moon design, 73 from the edition of 100, brought $22,000 ($28,820 with buyer’s premium) from a LiveAuctioneers bidder.

In November 2023, the Paris auction house Piasa offered a complete set of all 14 Calder weavings that had been owned by Kitty Meyer, the New York socialite who had first approached Calder with the earthquake fundraising idea. All numbered 53 of 100, they brought hammer prices between €30,000-€60,000 ($32,675-$65,350), with Moon selling at €32,000 ($34,850) and Floating Circle at €50,000 ($54,460).

Alexander Calder tapestry ‘The Star’ leads our five auction highlights

The Star, a tapestry after Alexander Calder, which hammered for $30,000 and sold for $38,400 with buyer’s premium at Roland New York.

Alexander Calder Tapestry, The Star, $38,400

The Star, a tapestry after Alexander Calder, which hammered for $30,000 and sold for $38,400 with buyer’s premium at Roland New York.
The Star, a tapestry after Alexander Calder, which hammered for $30,000 and sold for $38,400 with buyer’s premium at Roland New York.

GLEN COVE, N.Y. – Alexander Calder (1898-1976) first produced designs for tapestries made at the Aubusson factory in the early 1960s. However, most that come to auction – such as that offered for sale at Roland New York auction house on February 20 – were made by weavers in Guatemala a decade later. These works (the Calder Foundation calls them unauthorized) were part of a fundraising initiative to help victims of an earthquake that had hit Nicaragua and Guatemala in December 1972. Local workers, using traditional techniques and jute rather than wool, were paid four times their usual rate to complete the project. There are 14 different designs, with each made in an edition of 100.

The example at Roland NY is known as The Star and is numbered 96 of 100 and dated 1975. Inscribed Hecho En Guatemala (Made in Guatemala) it measures 4ft 8in by 7ft. It hammered for $30,000 and sold for $38,400 with buyer’s premium against an estimate of $10,000-$20,000, going to a bidder who used LiveAuctioneers.

In November 2023, the Paris auction house Piasa offered a complete set of the 14 Calder weavings that had been owned by Kitty Meyer, the New York socialite who had first approached Calder with the earthquake fundraising idea. All numbered 53 of 100, they brought hammer prices between €30,000-€60,000, with The Star hammering for €46,000 and selling for €59,800 ($64,895) with buyer’s premium.

Snappy the Happy Bubble Blowing Dragon Toy, $8,100

Snappy the Happy Bubble Blowing Dragon toy by Marx, which hammered for $6,750 and sold for $8,100 with buyer’s premium at Weiss Auctions.
Snappy the Happy Bubble Blowing Dragon toy by Marx, which hammered for $6,750 and sold for $8,100 with buyer’s premium at Weiss Auctions.

LYNBROOK, N.Y. – Snappy the Happy Bubble Blowing Dragon is a scarce battery-operated toy made by Marx in Japan in the 1960s. With its stop and go mechanism, it weaves its way along the floor, flashing its lights, turning its head, and blowing bubbles. Nose to tail, it measures around 3ft 3in across.

A relatively expensive toy at the time of manufacture, fewer than a dozen examples are known today with the original pictorial box intact.

The example offered as part of the Vintage Toys, Boats, and Advertising sale at Weiss Auctions on February 21 was play-worn but in largely functioning order and in its box. It hammered for $6,750 and sold for $8,100 with buyer’s premium against an estimate of $1,600-$3,200.

Herter Bros Slipper Chair made for the Vanderbilt Family, $38,400

Herter Bros slipper chair made for the Vanderbilt family, which hammered for $30,000 and sold for $38,400 with buyer’s premium at Bonhams Skinner.
Herter Bros slipper chair made for the Vanderbilt family, which hammered for $30,000 and sold for $38,400 with buyer’s premium at Bonhams Skinner.

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. – This Herter Bros inlaid rosewood and upholstered slipper chair was part of a suite made for the Vanderbilt family circa 1881-82. Two chairs and an ottoman numbered 453-455 from the same suite resided in one of the bedrooms of the William H. Vanderbilt residence on Fifth Avenue, New York, with this chair, numbered 452, previously owned by Gladys Moore Vanderbilt, Countess Szechenyi, at The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island.

She was the granddaughter of William H. Vanderbilt and she inherited The Breakers upon the death of her mother, Alice Claypoole Vanderbilt, wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt II. Gladys’s daughter, also Countess Szechenyi, had an apartment at The Breakers until her death in 1998.

These Herter-Vanderbilt pieces are among the most desirable of all Gilded Age furnishings. Offered as part of Bonhams Skinner’s February 21 Modern Design sale, it was estimated at $8,000-$12,000, hammered for $30,000, and sold for $38,400 with buyer’s premium.

Circa-1740 English Doll with a Petticoat Lined with Newspaper Stories About a Murder, $34,900

The petticoats of a circa-1740 English wooden doll were dated by the newspapers lining their interior. The doll that wore them hammered for £22,000 and sold for £27,500 ($34,900) with buyer’s premium at Special Auction Services.
The petticoats of a circa-1740 English wooden doll were dated by the newspapers lining their interior. The doll that wore them hammered for £22,000 and sold for £27,500 ($34,900) with buyer’s premium at Special Auction Services.

NEWBURY, UK – The first part of what Special Auction Services billed as “the largest and most valuable doll collection seen at auction for 25 years” went under the hammer on February 22.

Austin Smith and his late partner Margaret Harkins began collecting in 1949, eventually amassing more than 1,000 antique dolls and accessories. A second tranche of the collection will be offered later this year.

The best-seller in February was a circa-1740 English wooden doll in an ornate yellow gown, which carried an estimate of £8,000-£12,000 ($10,150-$15,230) but hammered for £22,000 and sold for £27,500 ($34,900) with buyer’s premium. Her petticoat was made from a broadsheet newspaper that featured the murder of a young maid by her mistress and daughter. Elizabeth (1673-1740) and Mary Branch (1716-1740) from Taunton, Somerset, England, were convicted of beating to death a servant girl, Jane Buttersworth, in 1740.

The top-estimated lot was Peggy, a circa-1765 English wooden doll that was assigned the range of £10,000-£15,000 ($12,690-$19,035) but dipped just below it, hammering for £9,500 and selling for £11,875 ($15,070) with buyer’s premium. Although legless, she wore her original clothes and was being sold with family provenance.

The doll came with a note addressed Peggy and dated 1846 that read: ‘This article belonged to Mrs. Douch, 7 Hill Street, Walworth, and has been in the family near 120 years.’ The auction house noted that while this would take the doll’s provenance back to the 1720s, its clothing dates it to the middle of the 18th century. Peggy was sold originally at Sotheby’s to Kay Desmonde, author of the 1984 book Dolls, 100 Colour Photographs, for £1,250 (roughly $1,585).

Rosalba Carriera Portrait of a Young Friar, $85,940

‘Portrait of a Young Friar’, a pastel on paper by Rosalba Carriera that hammered for €60,000 and sold for €79,200 ($85,940) with buyer’s premium at Lucas Milano SRL.
‘Portrait of a Young Friar’, a pastel on paper by Rosalba Carriera that hammered for €60,000 and sold for €79,200 ($85,940) with buyer’s premium at Lucas Milano SRL.

MILAN, Italy – This 18th-century pastel-on-paper portrait of a young friar has many hallmarks of the work of the Venetian painter Rosalba Carriera (1675-1757).

Often cited as one of the most commercially successful women artists of the 18th century – she painted literally hundreds of pastel portraits for the great and the good of courtly Europe – Carriera is increasingly appreciated as more than just ‘the greatest woman artist of her day’. She set rather than followed artistic trends. She was influential in introducing the rococo style and helped popularize the medium of pastels in 18th-century Europe. As a miniaturist, she was one of the first painters to use ivory instead of vellum as a support.

Most of these facts had been lost to art history because her work rapidly went out of fashion as the desire for the rococo waned. However, it is indicative of current collecting trends and the upswell of interest in ‘the female gaze’ that this relatively modest example of her craft created huge interest at Lucas Milano SRL’s February 20 sale. Authenticated by Italian art specialist Dr Dario Succi, the 21 by 18in (52 by 41cm) image of a Dominican monk was estimated at €6,000-€9,000, hammered for €60,000 and sold for €79,200 ($85,940) with buyer’s premium.

Roland NY sells items seized from convicted art dealer Ezra Chowaiki to benefit victims Feb. 20

GLEN COVE, N.Y. — The opening lots in the Modern, Post-War & Contemporary Auction at Roland NY on Tuesday, February 20 come from the ‘collection’ of notorious art dealer Ezra Chowaiki. He was convicted of wire fraud in 2018 and served 18 months in prison for an investment scam in which he sold stakes in art he didn’t actually own.

Chowaiki’s Park Avenue gallery was later declared bankrupt, with these 50 lots being sold on behalf of liquidators.

While unlikely to generate sufficient funds to pay back the millions Chowaiki’s took from his victims, they include glimpses of a former life as an influential New York dealer in the modern and contemporary sphere. He was described at the time as ‘the ultimate art world insider.’

Three stacked ‘ceramic forest’ sculptures by the Spanish artist Jaime Hayon (b. 1974-) that carry estimates of $7,500-$10,000 each were previously featured at the Miami Art Basel fair in 2003. One, in blue and white enamels, stands 6ft 8in high, while the other, a pair in yellow and black, is 5ft 4in.

A colorful book-covered painted fiberglass cow sculpture by the British artist (and granddaughter of Winston Churchill) Edwina Sandys (b. 1938-) is estimated at $6,000-$8,000. It was one of many created for Cow Parade 2000, the second of the public art events held that year in New York City.

A vintage Sunday B. Morning screenprint of Andy Warhol’s Cream of Mushroom Soup Can, signed to the verso and numbered 33/250, has an estimate $1,500-$2,500, while a Robert Lazzarini resin, bone, and pigment sculpture of an amorphic skull, reminiscent of that in Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors, is estimated at $4,000-$6,000.

Art from other estates includes one of the tapestries created late in his career by Alexander Calder (1898-1976) and woven in Guatemala. Modern Tapestry, number 96 from an edition of 100 and signed and dated in the weave 1975, is estimated at $15,000-$20,000.

Alexander Calder tapestries and George Nakashima furniture triumphed at Piasa

George Nakashima, special order Minguren II dining table, €145,000 ($204,446 with buyer’s premium) at Piasa.

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PARIS — George Nakashima furniture was the big winner in the three-sale, intra-day event at Piasa November 8. The day consisted of After Alexander Calder 53/100, Arts and Crafts – Made in America, and American Design. Complete results are available at LiveAuctioneers.

At just 15 lots, After Alexander Calder was a micro-sale entirely comprised of Calder tapestries, each numbered 53/100. The top earner was Doll – no. 53/100, which hammered at €62,000 ($87,427 with buyer’s premium).

The Arts and Crafts – Made in America sale was a 34-lot affair packed with fine examples of the early 20th-century design movement, split between the various Stickley brothers and Charles Limbert (1854-1923). Top-lot honors went to Limbert for his no. 243 oak bench dating to 1902. It hammered for €7,000 ($9,870 with buyer’s premium).

The third session, the 148-lot American Design sale, was dominated by 28 lots of George Nakashima furniture. The leader of the sale was a Minguren II dining table bearing the magical modifier “Special Order” — in this case, for a couple in Illinois in 1982. It hammered at €145,000 ($204,446 with buyer’s premium), just south of its top estimate.

Other victorious lots included a double chest of drawers (€38,000, or $53,584 with buyer’s premium) and a walnut and pandanus Special Order cabinet from 1958, accompanied by its original order slip (€35,000, or $49,354 with buyer’s premium).
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Tapestry after an Alexander Calder design, ‘Doll,’ which sold for €62,000 ($87,427 with buyer’s premium) at Piasa.
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Charles Limbert no. 243 oak bench, which sold for €7,000 ($9,870 with buyer’s premium) at Piasa.
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George Nakashima special order Minguren II dining table, which sold for €145,000 ($204,446 with buyer’s premium) at Piasa.
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George Nakashima double chest of drawers, which sold for €38,000 ($53,584 with buyer’s premium) at Piasa.
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George Nakashima special order cabinet from 1958, which sold for €35,000 ($49,354 with buyer’s premium) at Piasa.
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