MODERN ART & DESIGN AUCTION
March 6, 2011
The March 6, 2011 Modern Art & Design Auction featured property from the estate of computer billionaire Max Palevsky and works from the collection of James Byrnes, the first curator of Modern Art at LACMA. Over half of the 500 plus items offered in the March 6th auction had never before traded hands on the open market. It was the highest grossing sale to date, with total sales reaching $2,256,323 and a sell through rate of 82%.
Highlights from the sale included a number of Ettore Sottsass pieces custom designed for the Estate of Max Palevsky, reaching a hammer total of $333,813. Record prices were achieved for several of these unique Sottsass designs, including a marble console (Lot 55 est. $10,000 - 15,000) that realized $75,000, a sevres porcelain vase (Lot 70 est. $1,000 - 1,500) that brought $31,250, and a pair of marble end tables (Lot 84 and 85 est. $2,400 - 3,000) that together realized $25,000. In addition to the Sottsass designs, four Murano glass windows, a selection of Venini glass, and a rare Carlo Scarpa vase for Venini were also offered for sale. All property from the Palevsky Estate was sold with no reserve.
Fine art from the Collection of James Byrnes found very strong competition with 50 lots bringing $171,313. Highlights included a rare Harry Bertoia brooch (Lot 220 est. $5,000 - 7,000) that brought almost $22,000, an original Calder work on paper (Lot 25 est. $15,000 - 20,000) that realized $25,000, and an Ynez Johnston (Lot 332 est. $2,000 - 3,000) that realized $10,938. All of the works from this collection received heavy pre-sale attention due to Byrnes' relationship with each of the artists. Nearly all of the works were acquired directly from the artists, which created desirable provenance.
The star lot of the sale was a sculpture by Reg Butler (Lot 92 est. $20,000 - 30,000), which soared to $125,000 after an intense bidding battle. The price set a new world auction record for the artist. This British sculpture turned up unexpectedly in a local collection this year, after remaining in private hands since 1963. Replicas of this important work are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Tate Gallery.