Sollo Rago Hits the Sweet Spot in the Market For Modern—Tops All Auction Houses Selling 20th Century Design in 2008
Apr. 24, 2008
LAMBERTVILLE, New Jersey—It was a chilly spring for the auction houses that sold Modern design in March, but the sun shone bright for Sollo Rago Modern Auctions on April 12-13. “We had something to prove after our blockbuster auction last fall – and we did.” says John Sollo, who directs the sale. “April’s results actually topped October’s record when you take into the account the difference in the number of lots. Are we pleased for our consignors and grateful to our buyers? You bet.” As with all Rago auctions, Internet bidding and catalog preview were offered by www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
The centerpiece of the sale, “Sculpted by Paul Evans: the Dorsey Reading Collection,” was a spectacular success. The 40+ pieces Reading consigned (collected in the 23 years he worked with the great artist-designer Paul Evans and in the 11 years since Evans’ death) brought a total of $1,354,920. The record-setting price for a work of Evans at auction came with the sale of a sculpture-front vertical cabinet with 23k gold edging at $228,000. Other highlights included a Wavy-front cabinet (the first ever made) for $103,000, a Sculpture front horizontal cabinet with four doors for $180,000, a Pinwheel Argente sculpture (First in the “Field” series) for $66,000; a Loop screen for $30,000. Reading also sold work created by Evans’ fellow craftsman and artist Phillip Lloyd Powell. Sollo Rago topped the record it set in 2006 for a work by Powell, with the sale of his walnut fireplace surround for $96,000.
Exceptional studio pieces remained strong overall. A new record was set for the work of Wendell Castle at auction with the sale of a lyrical oak sleigh chair for $204,000. The work of Thomas Lynn sold well, as did the best of Nakashima, including a rosewood dining table for $252,000 and a conoid dining table for $138,000.
American art deco drew attention in the sale, most notably in the form of a desk lamp by Donald Deskey. The lamp, one of few known and in original condition, attracted literally dozens of bidders. Collectively they drove the price from its estimate of $2,000-3,000 to $138,000.
The small selection of fine art in the sale showed exceptional strength, with a number of lots doubling and even tripling their high estimates. These include a large, untitled work on paper by Robert Morris for $19,200 Norman Carton’s “Blue Night” for $15,600, three works by George Morrison for $16,800, a Shadow Man by Richard Hambleton for $8,400 a set of two table-top sonambients by Harry Bertoia for $39,600, and the work of Keith Haring.
Overall, a notable number of lots sold in excess of $100,000. Only 16% of lots went unsold, with a number of these selling within the week. Surprisingly, foreign bidding was not a great factor in the sale, despite the strength of foreign currencies against the U.S. dollar, While over 150 bidders registered from across the E.U,, Asia, Scandinavia and South Africa, they ultimately accounted for only 5% of buyers, outdone by Americans across the board.
To view the fully illustrated auction catalog, with prices realized, please visit www.LiveAuctioneers.com.