The design sales in New York gave further evidence of a market in wait-and-see mode. The New York Times covers the sales noting pockets of strength within those broader bands of market weakness:
The strongest-performing objects last week — that is, the few that caused bidding flurries and reached six-figure prices — came in three broad categories that have well-established collector bases and track records in the market: Tiffany lamps, early-1900s American metalwork and French and Italian furniture from the 1930s through the 1950s.
At a Sotheby’s design sale that totaled $3.6 million, nearly one-quarter of the proceeds came from two century-old chunks of American iron: hammered andirons by Gustav Stickley and an elevator cage studded with spheres that the architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler had installed at the Chicago Stock Exchange. The purchaser of the cage, said James Zemaitis, the director of the 20th-century design department for Sotheby’s in New York, “is a major West Coast institution making a commitment to 20th-century design, and renovating a wing for that purpose.”
At Christie’s, more than 40 percent of the $2.99 million realized at the 20th-century decorative art and design sale came from one lot: a 1949 side table by the Italian designer Carlo Mollino. The piece, which has two irregular sheets of glass mounted on an S-curve of maple plywood, was a custom design for the apartment of a nobleman in Turin, Italy.
The article does point out the frustration many of the auctioneers expressed at the lack of bidding, including Brook Hazelton who surveyed the room at Phillips and asked at one point, “All those phones, and no bids?” Still, several dealers were in the room showing the flag. There was Brian Kish who bought the Mollino table and
The architect Lee Mindel was also happy to raise paddles publicly last week. He sat in the back rows for hours at both Sotheby’s and Christie’s, occasionally looking up from his computer or cellphone to nod at the auctioneers. He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of “many, many clients,” he said.
“There’s wonderful stuff available now for the brave,” he continued. “You’ve got to grin and bear it, and go for those great values out there.”
Design Auction Season thats Fit for the Brave (The New York Times)