Rago to debut REAL MODERN, auctions aimed at the young buyer

Pair of Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs, auctioned Oct. 25, 2008 for $3,250. Photo courtesy Sollo Rago.

Pair of Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs, auctioned Oct. 25, 2008 for $3,250. Photo courtesy Sollo Rago.

LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. – Over the weekend of Feb. 14-15, 2009, Sollo Rago Modern Auctions will introduce REAL MODERN, its first auction for the young buyer who wants to furnish an apartment with style without breaking the bank. The sale will consist of a large selection of affordable furniture and decorative arts for home and office by leading designers of the 20th century.

“I want to introduce and educate young people to the benefits of purchasing at auction,” said John Sollo, who runs Sollo Rago Modern Auctions. “I want them to know that they can get original pieces from great designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, Herman Miller and Gustav Stickley for far less money than they’d pay for later editions and imitations at Design Within Reach, West Elm, Crate and Barrel or even Ikea. What we sell is authentic and eco-friendly and what you buy today can be re-sold for good money.”

Comparisons between retailers’ prices for copies and auction estimates on originals of the same designs provide a compelling argument for buying the real deal:

Charles Eames 670 chair and 671 ottoman
— DWR list price: $3,599-$4,499
— REAL MODERN auction estimate: $1,500-3,500

Mies van der Rohe BRNO Chair
— DWR list price for one chair: $1,750-$2,009
— REAL MODERN auction estimate for a pair: $1,500-$3,500

Arts & Crafts Movement dining table and chairs
— Crate and Barrel Arts and Crafts “style” list price: Chairs: $379 each.
Dining table: $2,500
— REAL MODERN original Arts & Crafts auction estimates: Dining chair:
$100. Dining table: $1,000.

Amy Lau, the interior designer known for her modernist interiors, advises her clients to purchase at auction whenever possible. “I always encourage my young clients to purchase unique furniture and art that will retain their intrinsic value and enrich a home with a sense of history.”

Here are some tips for buying at REAL MODERN:

— Buying from a real auction house is a lot like buying on eBay. Decide what your maximum bid is, give it to the auction house and wait for the sale. The bidding will open at the lowest possible selling price, determined mathematically with the low estimate as the basis. You can also bid in real time on the Internet or on the phone or in the saleroom on the sale day.

— Browse the online auction catalog by maker or type of furniture or just piece by piece. It’s like looking at any store’s online catalogue. Instead of a flat price, though, you’ll also see a presale estimate. This is the price range where the auction house thinks the piece will sell, so you get a sense of its value. It might sell in that range or for more or for less, too. So don’t be afraid to ask questions about something you like but think you can’t quite afford.

— If you do see something you like and can’t see it in person, that’s not a problem. Most people who buy at auction these days live too far away to come in person or are just too busy. Contact the auction house to find out more details by e-mail or phone.

— Check the auction results online. If you are the lucky winner, the auction house will e-mail you your invoice and info on shipping.

Two important things to remember:
— Be sure to ask about shipping costs, particularly if you are buying
a piece of heavy furniture.
— Buying at auction is like buying final sale at retail.

The online catalog will be available to view online in late January 2009. For more information visit http://www.ragoarts.com or call 866-724-6278.