Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA) withdrew the George D. Sturges Residence, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1939, from its February 21 sale of Modern Art & Design. The cantilevered redwood-and-brick residence, the only Californian example of Wright's Usonian housing, carried a pre-sale estimate of $2,500,000–3,000,000.
The auction house issued a statement Sunday that no qualified bidder had been registered by the time the auction started, further stating: "Due to the home’s unique historical and cultural significance, it has become apparent that more time is needed for prospective buyers to assess what can and should be done to preserve this historical gem."
The famed house—a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument (officially recognized as no. 577 on May 25, 1993)—has come on the market for the first time in nearly 50 years. Jack Larson and James Bridges, Hollywood luminaries and art patrons, purchased the house in 1967 and commissioned the celebrated modernist architect John Lautner, who supervised its original construction, to restore the structure in 1970. (The $40-million Lautner-designed James Goldstein House was recently gifted to LACMA.)
The LAMA auction included the 1,200 square foot house, on two plots of land totaling 17,000 square feet, located in the heart of the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Separately, the auction featured original furnishings by Frank Lloyd Wright, and fine art, decorative art, and design collected by Larson and Bridges over their lifetimes.
Among the highlights was a pair of Origami lounge chairs made by Wright for the house that sold for $20,000 each. Richard Prince's olive green canvas "Bedtime Story" fetched $1,585,000. Another top lot was an Alberto Giacometti bronze lampadaire (floor lamp base) with a head of a woman. It brought $125,000.
Proceeds from the auction of the house and collection will benefit The Bridges/Larson Foundation, founded by James Bridges and Jack Larson, to be used for charitable, scientific, literary, and educational purposes.
Jack Larson, who passed away in September 2015, is best remembered for portraying the earnest Jimmy Olsen on the 1950s television series Adventures of Superman. His partner, James Bridges, was the much-admired director of such films as Urban Cowboy, The China Syndrome, and The Paper Chase. He was also an Academy Award® nominated screenwriter. This unique couple supported budding artists in the Los Angeles art scene from the early 1960s through 1980s, and through these relationships they organically acquired meaningful paintings, prints, drawings, and sculpture.
Highlights of their art collection included some rare and early works–many of which were gifts from the artists themselves– by Alex Katz, David Hockney, Don Bachardy, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Sam Francis, Joe Brainard, Frank Lloyd Wright, and John Lautner. Some intruiging lots went unsold and are offered with an "Available Now" price on LAMA's website.
This auction marked the first time LAMA offered a real estate property in a fine art catalogue. The Sturges house is available through Barry Sloane of Sotheby’s International Realty in Beverly Hills.