Mid-century modern furniture may not be the darling it once was at auction. At Christie’s recent “Forever Chic” sale, for instance, there were several surprises. A chrome metal seven-light chandelier was expected to sell for between $4,000 and $6,000, and instead fetched only $625. An Austrian bronze candlestick from 1940 went for $250, though hopes were for the $800 to $1,200 range.
Perhaps the popularity of Mad Men, which inspired viewers to dream about relaxing in Don Draper’s Eames lounge chair, caused manufacturers to flood the market with reproductions. But obviously, this modern, uncluttered style appealed to many people for many reasons—not only for nostalgia for a time when America seemed full of possibility, but for its practicality as well.
“It’s not that mid-modern isn’t as popular,” explains Brendan Ryan, appraiser and manager of Bedford’s Butterscotch Auction Gallery, “but that people are more discerning and educated. Quality pieces by name-brand designers are selling.” And they’re selling regardless of style or era—and far exceeding estimates.
Case in point: A bronze mounted palmwood and parchwood Osvaldo Borsani sideboard from 1935 sold for $27,500—$12,000 more than the estimate—at Christie’s “Forever Chic” sale.
Wrought-Iron Sculpted-Front Console Cabinet by Paul Evans (1931-1987)
Bronze Mounted Palmwood and Parchwood Sideboard attributed to Osvaldo Borsani
Sold at Christie’s “Prints and Multiples” auction in October 2014
Nude with Blue Hair
Screen-print in colors, 1994, on Rives BFK paper, signed and dated in pencil, numbered 23/40 (there were also 12 artist’s proofs), published by Tyler Graphics, Ltd., Mount Kisco, with their blind-stamp, with full margins, in very good condition, framed
La Femme à la fenêtre
Aquatint, 1952, on Arches paper, a fine impression, the second (final) state, signed in pencil, numbered 43/50, published by Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, with full margins, pale light-staining, pale foxing in places on the reverse (very slightly showing through), a soft horizontal crease in the lower margin, otherwise generally in good condition, framed
Temple et Histoire de Bacchus
Sold at Christie’s “Important Jewels” sale in October 2014
Art Deco Jade, Diamond, Sapphire, and Rock Crystal Brooch by Cartier
Designed as a half-moon-shaped carved jade plaque, set with cabochon sapphires, trimmed with Old European circular and single-cut diamonds, suspending an articulated carved rock-crystal hoop, mounted in platinum, circa 1925, signed Cartier
As part of its traditional “Magnificent Jewels” series, Sotheby’s was given a treasure chest of the late Estée Lauder and her daughter-in-law Evelyn Lauder’s exquisite collection, which will be sold December 8. Included in the Sotheby’s auction: pieces designed by Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Buccellati, and David Webb. Proceeds to benefit the charity that became Evelyn’s signature cause, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, as well as Estée’s favored charity, Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. Here are a few pieces that will be included in the auction.
From the collection of Evelyn H. Lauder, sold to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation:
Pair of Platinum, Diamond, and Mystery-Set Colored Stone Pendant Earclips, Van Cleef & Arpels
Platinum, Colored Stone, Diamond, and Enamel “Tutti Frutti” Bracelet, Cartier, New York, Circa 1928
From the collection of Estée Lauder, sold to benefit th Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation:
Pair of Platinum, 18K Gold, Colored Diamond, and Diamond Earclips, Van Cleef & Arpels
Centering two fancy brown-yellow diamonds weighing 8.08 and 7.74 carats
Pair of Platinum and Diamond Clip Brooches, Circa 1935
Designed as leaves and set with diamonds weighing approximately 14.45 carats