With record-breaking 2014 sales totaling $19.5 million for iGavel, company founder Lark Mason is casting a wider net by expanding operations to the historic German-settled town of New Braunfels, right in the heart of the vibrant Texas Hill Country, between San Antonio and Austin.
The nearly $20 million figure represents combined sales for six of the larger regional associates: Elders Fine Art & Antique Auctions, in Nokomis, Fla.; Everard & Company, Savannah, Ga.; Litchfield County Auctions & Appraisals, Litchfield, Conn.; Lark Mason Associates, New Braunfels and New York; Nye & Company, Bloomfield, N.J.; and Witherell’s, Sacramento, Ca. Of that nearly $20 million, 164 lots realized more than $10,000 each, and of these, eight fetched more than $100,000 each, remarkable results not achieved by any other online auction venue.
“The year 2014 will go down as momentous for iGavel,” says Mason, the nationally known Antiques Roadshow television personality and Asian art expert who started the online auction platform 12 years ago, long before other online platforms came into being.
“I am thrilled to open a new iGavel office in the Texas Hill County in New Braunfels,” Mason says, adding, “The decision is strategic and is based on the vibrancy of the Texas economy, terrific business climate, the geographic advantage of being in the center of the U.S. and the proximity to Austin, an incubator of tech firms.”
“Establishing an office here allows us to better serve our clients, many of whom live in Texas and the surrounding states,” adds Mason, who will also maintain his New York office and exhibition space. “Being online is not enough,” says Mason. The key today is service and accessibility and cost. The traditional auction house model that packs and ships items over long distances to a central location is under terrific strain.” According to Mason, Texas and other locations offer convenient proximity to major markets and lower costs, allowing his online firms iGavel and Lark Mason Associates to more efficiently serve their clients.
Mason’s innovative approach for online sales—with uniform buyer’s premium rates, vetted sellers, published condition reports, and a guarantee for items sold in the two-week auction process—remains unique among Web-based auction companies.
A native New Yorker and a former director of Sothebys.com, Mason came to know Texas while an expert at Sotheby’s and then later as the consulting curator for the Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas. When he decided to enlarge iGavel’s operations, Texas was his first choice. In addition to iGavel, Mason is the owner of his eponymous auction house, which specializes in Asian art and recently sold a painting for more than $4.3 million, a record-breaking price for Lark Mason Associates and one of the highest amounts of any work of art sold online. That result was not an anomaly. In 2014, five other members of the iGavel consortium also had record-breaking results: Elders sold a Chinese scroll for $1.1 million; Everard, an oil by Gabriele Münter for more than $250,000; Litchfield County, a pair of Chinese vases for nearly $250,000; Nye, a Louis XIV cabinet for nearly $100,000; and Witherell’s, a horn-veneered center table for $90,000.
Mason also announces that three new associates have joined iGavel: Jason Roske of KC Auction Company in Kansas City, Christopher Mayor of Abington Auctions in Fort Lauderdale, and Margaret O’Neill of Mill City Auctions in Minneapolis.
An important consideration for online sales is the price of transportation. Shipping costs rise with distance, and likening his business method with Amazon’s, Mason believes there is value in a network of regional auction centers that have a common platform and uniform customer experience that brings access to international markets of art and antiques. “Providing regional access to salesrooms while keeping overhead low helps our consignors and purchasers, and our model of guarantees, coupled with plenty of online images and information, goes a step beyond that of any other online seller,” says Mason, who believes an expansion into Texas will be the first of more growth down the line, continuing the establishment of iGavel in all the major regional markets in the United States.
For more information, visit: www.igavelauctions.com or www.larkmason.com