With a total of $10 million, more than double the high estimate, and a 89% sell-through rate, Rago’s Early 20th Century Design and Modern Design auctions illustrate the continued strength of the design market.
The highlight of the two-day auction event was the record sale of an important Tiffany Studios Dandelion lamp from the 1900 Exposition in Paris. One of only two known monumental examples, the lamp brought in an impressive $3,745,000, a new world record. With more than a dozen registered phone bidders and a handful of active participants on the online platforms, the energy in the room was electric with different waves of activity and three bidders contending until the very end.
A set of The Pine tiles by Addison LeBoutillier for Grueby sold for $81,250, a rare Wisteria tile by Adelaide Robineau sold for $75,000, a storage jar by David Drake (aka Dave the Potter) sold for $68,750 and several vases by George E. Ohr brought noteworthy results in day one of the auction series.
The momentum garnered with Early 20th Century Design continued right into Friday’s session of Modern Design. An early monumental sculpture by Peter Voulkos created in 1957 the same year he and John Mason created a studio with a walk-in kiln, sold for more than double its estimate at $400,000. An important and early Sculpture Front cabinet, one of the first three ever made by Paul Evans, brought in $312,500 while a Frenchman’s Cove II dining table and set of eight Conoid dining chairs by George Nakashima sold for $131,250 and $106,250 respectively, proving that his artistry is still very much in demand.
Contemporary Glass continues to excel at Rago with a custom Persian and Horn chandelier by Dale Chihuly selling for $125,000. Semi-Reclining Dress Impression by Karen LaMonte brought $62,500 and works by William Morris achieved notable results, Artifact Bundle selling for $45,000 and Rhyton Vessel at $50,000.
Rago also included two groupings of works sold to benefit other organizations. For the third year in a row, Rago hosted The Smithsonian Women’s Committee Visionary Benefit Auction featuring a selection of works by Visionary and Delphi award recipients. In total, the auction brought in $85,000 all of which goes to support projects of the Smithsonian institution.
On the local front, Rago teamed with The Friends of Ely Park Giving Tree Project to present a selection of works created by local artisans from a centuries old London Plane tree felled in 2014. All $35,000 from the sale of these works benefit The Jim Hamilton Memorial Shad Fest Scholarship Fund which awards two $10,000 scholarships to local students pursuing a degree in the arts.
Bidder participation was strong throughout the two days, with bidders joining by phone, absentee, live online and even in the room, representing the largest in-person audience at Rago since the onset of the pandemic.