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Category: Auctions

Neutra lamp auction part of effort to fix Silver Lake landmark

LAMA-Neutra-Prototype-Lamp-May12-3 copy
Four pieces of wood, some glass, a light bulb and wire. Do I hear $20,000? That’s the low estimate floated for a 1942 prototype lamp by Richard Neutra to be sold by Los Angeles Modern Auctions on May 6. The value, the auction house said, stems from the piece’s rarity: Only one other like it is known to exist.

Designed for Neutra’s parents’ house in Westwood, the lamp now belongs to Raymond Neutra, son of the iconic L.A. architect, who is donating proceeds toward the renovation of the Neutra VDL home and studio in Silver Lake. Robert Alexander, interim director of the landmark house, said the next phase involves reconstruction of the main roof by the L.A. firm Marmol Radziner, with hopes of eventually reviving Richard Neutra’s original vision: a rooftop reflecting pool with a surface that visually melds with the Silver Lake reservoir in the distance.

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Michael Jackson's last home: Furniture on view, auction nearing

More than 500 furnishings from the Los Angeles house where Michael Jackson died are open for public viewing and scheduled for auction
Michael Jackson's last home: That is how 100 N. Carolwood Drive, the 17,000-square-foot Holmby Hills estate where Jackson died in June 2009, may forever be known. Furnishings from the house are scheduled to go on the block Dec. 17 at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, and among the pieces for sale are the Victorian Revival-style burlwood headboard for the bed where Jackson slept, above, (valued at $3,000 to $4,000), and the plush red velour sofas and chairs from the screening room. More than 500 furnishings from the Los Angeles house where Michael Jackson died are open for public viewing and scheduled for auction

A suited rooster figurine in the kitchen holds a blackboard that is inscribed with chalk messages from Jackson's children (estimated at $400 to $600).

A free public preview of the lots will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at Julien's Auctions, 9665 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 150. Everything in the auction is cataloged online.

Designed by architect Richard Landry and completed in 2002, the French chateau-style estate had been leased for Jackson at a cost of $100,000 a month by AEG. The concert promoter had rented the property from trustee Roxanne Guez, wife of Ed Hardy owner Hubert Guez.

The owners decorated the house with 18th and 19th century Continental furniture and traditional upholstered pieces from George Smith. The decor felt similar to the look of Jackson's home at Neverland, auction house owner Darren Julien said in an email. Purchased in 2004 for $18.5 million, the home was on the market when Jackson moved in. 

"Michael was considering buying it," Julien added.

More than 500 furnishings from the Los Angeles house where Michael Jackson died are open for public viewing and scheduled for auction"Historically, Michael did rent houses, and when he would leave, he would take the furnishings with him when he left and buy them from the owners."

Citing a long history with the Jackson family, Julien has not used Jackson's likeness to promote the sale and is not claiming that the 500-plus items for sale were the singer's personal possessions.

Julien also withdrew from the sale the bed in which Jackson died, right, at the request of the entertainer's mother, Katherine Jackson.

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At Wright design auction, the bright spot is lighting

W Greta Magnusson Grossman 2

For design fans who look to the auction market as their leading economic indicator, the sale Thursday at the Chicago auction house Wright provided one bright spot for the industry: lighting.

W Greta Magnusson Grossman 1Italian lamps designed by Angelo Lelli in the late 1960s performed well, as did the midcentury work of Greta Magnusson Grossman, one of the primary recipients of posthumous adoration now that California design is experiencing a resurgence of appreciation. Her 4-foot-2 Grasshopper floor lamp, pictured at right, had been estimated at $3,000 to $4,000 leading up to the Wright auction. It sold for $11,250. (The design is on view in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's show "California Design 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way.") If you think that the Grasshopper price is stunning, check out the smaller Grossman table lamp above, which went for $15,000 on Thursday.

"California design is really on the make now," said Michael Jefferson, Wright's senior specialist for 20th century design. He said the Pacific Standard Time exhibitions could be nudging the market, but he also noted that most of the bidding for the Grossman designs came from the East Coast. "We're seeing European interest as well," he said.

Though some of the most expensive pieces in the auction went unsold, less costly pieces by top designers still brought near-record prices, Jefferson said. Given the perception of a slightly depressed market, consignors were urged to run with low estimates in hopes of drawing broad interest and sending bids higher. The strategy worked.

"When push comes to shove, buyers are willing to pay for extraordinary pieces," Jefferson said. Lighting in particular performed well, partly because many buyers were seeking functional design -- pieces that would not be not only appreciated but also used.

W Frank Gehry coffee table

W Arthur Umanoff flip clockIn other bidding, the 1971 Frank Gehry coffee table made of cardboard, Masonite and glass, pictured above, had been estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. It sold for $3,500.

The rosewood Flip table clock, pictured at right, sold for $1,450. It was designed by Arthur Umanoff circa 1960 for the Howard Miller Clock Co., and it's just 6 inches wide.

For more results from the auction Thursday, keep reading ...

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Los Angeles Modern Auctions previews Dorso collection

Richard Dorso collection
Interior designer David John admits that he felt a little overwhelmed when Los Angeles Modern Auctions director Peter Loughrey asked him to style a vignette using some of the 400-plus pieces in the Richard Dorso collection, which includes works by the likes of Sam Maloof, John McCracken and John Baldessari, to be auctioned Oct. 9.

"It was a dream come true to decorate with Maloof, McCracken and Baldessari," John said. "I wanted to blur the line between living room and gallery space. Narrowing it down was so hard. You could go so many different ways with the collection."

Other highlights in the upcoming auction include works by Richard Tuttle, Roy Lichtenstein, Vasa Velizar Mihich and Gustav Klimt. All lots are on display as part of an exhibit exploring the role of Dorso in the L.A. art scene. For John's vignette, the designer aimed for calm and peaceful, choosing approximately 40 artworks based on color, texture and pattern. Dorso's apartment "vibrated crazy energy," John says, so he wanted the vignette to "vibrate with color and intensity" but still "tone it down a bit and make it modern."

Get-attachment.aspx John also highlighted California artists, given that the exhibit is part of the celebration Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions will sell the Dorso collection with no reserve, meaning all lots including furniture and decorative arts will be sold without minimum bid requirements, spokeswoman Elizabeth Portanova said. For collectors living outside of Los Angeles, the auction house will offer absentee, phone and online bidding. All 418 lots from the collection can be viewed online. "We also offer condition reports on each piece, which must be requested by the client," Portanova said. "Condition reports are great for people who can't see the items in-person."

Los Angeles Modern Auctions is at 16145 Hart St. Van Nuys. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; (323) 904-1950.


Eames living room moved for LACMA exhibit

"California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way"

Pacific Standard Time: The Times guide

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits: Bethany Nauert

Los Angeles Modern Auctions offers unsold Eames, Maloof and Warhol at minimum prices


184-2 Although the cabinet shown above was one of the most popular items at the Los Angeles Modern Auctions preview last week, it did not sell Sunday at auction.

Good news: The 50-year-old piece by an anonymous Dutch architect can still be had. Design fans who missed the bidding or simply decided afterward that it must be theirs can buy it for $2,500.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions sold $1.5 million worth of goods on Sunday and will continue to offer lots that went unsold, but this time with no bidding. Lots are listed at set prices, the minimums the owners of each object is willing to accept. Prices include the auction house commission.

The leftovers range from a $200 American Modern lacquered coffee table to a $56,250 Andy Warhol  screen print called "The Marx Brothers." Other items include a Charles and Ray Eames ESU-420-C storage unit, $8,750; Eames lounge chair and ottoman, $4,375; and a 1965 Sam Maloof armchair with green upholstery, right, listed at $6,000. 

LAMA Managing Director Shannon Loughrey said she expects the inventory to last through the next three weeks. A complete list of available lots is available online. The authenticity of every item offered for sale is guaranteed. All sales are final. (323) 904-1950.


Los Angeles Modern Auctions' March sale

Wright's Modern design auction

At auction: High and low notes from the guitarist Slash

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits: LAMA   

Wright auction includes rarities of modern design

Wright, the Chicago auction house that focuses on 20th century furniture and art, has uncovered some rarities for its March 31 Modern design sale. The firm has acquired not only bronze Gazelle chairs by Dan Johnson and a desk by Roy McMakin, but also more than a dozen pieces -- many of them custom design and presumed designers' prototypes -- from the home of Henry Glass

Henry who? 

"Glass is somewhat obscure but was a beloved Chicago industrial designer who taught at the Art Institute," auction house owner Richard Wright said of Glass, who died in 2003 at age 92. "He designed thousands of things, the most famous being the Swingline collection of children's furniture for Fleetwood in the 1950s, which is really cool stuff."

Glass' collection included the 1955 table pictured above, a colorful and clever design by the protégé of early modern furniture designers Gilbert Rohde and Russel Wright. Each of the lacquered stools has two legs and calls upon a table support as a third leg. When the seats are not in use, they can be swung under the table. It's a cool design estimated to sell for a cool $2,000 to $3,000. 

109_1_520_520_90 Other sale highlights include about two dozen pieces by Swiss designer and Le Corbusier collaborator Pierre Jeanneret, including this 1955 sofa, left, created for a building in Chandigarh, India.

Departing from traditional architecture, the city was designed as "a grand urban planning experiment" by midcentury modernists, Wright said.

"There has been some controversy," he added, "because some buildings have been altered and destroyed and parts of this architectural legacy are being sold off by the government and sent out into the world."

Bidding for such historical pieces is not for the squeamish. On the low end, estimates for simple stools and writing chairs start at $3,000. This 4.5-foot-long upholstered teak sofa is expected to fetch $25,000 to $30,000.

This sale is the first of Wright's twice-yearly events and follows some interesting bidding on Wright's auction last June.

-- David A. Keeps

Follow the scene by joining our Facebook page for home design.

Photo: Wright


Los Angeles Modern Auction results

Julien's Auctions' Slash sale


Slash, the collector: Guitarist's decor up for auction

Slash-tapestry-cropped Slash-lamps-sropped 
Julien's Auctions is selling belongings from the guitarist Slash on March 26. After reviewing the lots up for bidding, writer David A. Keeps declares in a Q&A with Slash that the home furnishings "strike some unexpected chords": an amusing ballerina tapestry, Victoriana such as the bedside lamps pictured above right, Asian antiques, African carvings, Indian brass, movie memorabilia and plenty of boy’s toys. And lots of skulls. The table below -- glass top set on a resin skeleton base -- was a gift from Charlie Sheen. Look for more in our photo gallery.


Photos: Shaan Kokin / Julien's Auctions


Los Angeles Modern Auctions results

Photo tours of L.A. houses


Los Angeles Modern Auctions sees fierce bidding on designs by Ettore Sottsass, Mathias Goeritz, others

Los Angeles Modern Auctions' sale this week drew strong bidding on a range of designs, including (clockwise from top): Venini Murano window panels from a Malibu estate, a Rudolph Schindler side chair, Architectural Pottery planters, an Ettore Sottsass rug and a Richard Schultz Petal table.

Sottsass pieces that formed the heart of the auction did particularly well, fetching nearly $20,000 for a headboard, more than $13,000 for an '80s-rific mirror and more than $30,000 for a single Sottsass vase. Other surprises: A pair of Enzo Mari stone bowls estimated at $200 to $300 eventually sold for $7,187.50. A set of four Mathias Goeritz sculptures -- none taller than 10 inches -- were estimated at $3,000 to $4,000 but ultimately sold for $28,125. Meanwhile, a Paul McCobb coffee table and Santiago Calatrava chairs sold for less than their estimates.

You can review highlights in our photo gallery of LAMA results.

About 82% of the lots sold at auction, LAMA said. And the 18% for which bidding never reached the reserve, the minimum price the seller was willing to accept? If you missed out on the bidding the first time around, you've got a second chance. Those pieces are being offered now, at fixed prices posted this afternoon.


At home with the man behind This Is Not IKEA


Ettore Sottsass designs from the 1980s go to auction


Times arts writer Jori Finkel gives the rundown on Los Angeles Modern Auctions' upcoming sale of Ettore Sottsass design. Writes Finkel:

The March 6 sale includes nearly 20 works that Sottsass made for [Max] Palevsky, with estimates ranging  $500 to $700 for a slender wood console to $8,000 to $12,000 for a large couch anchored by an architectural table lamp that takes the form of a small temple. Three platform beds with wood headboards and built-in shelves and cabinetry are estimated at $2,000 to $3,000 each.

Check out Finkel's full post on our sister blog, Culture Monster.

Photo: Ettore Sottsass headboard with attached drawers, custom designed in 1984 for Max Palevsky's Malibu home, is estimated to sell for $2,000 to $3,000. Courtesy Los Angeles Modern Auctions.

'Miracle on 34th St.' Santa and reindeer up for auction

Miracle on 34th Street original prop Santa Claus, sleigh and reindeer

This is no ordinary Christmas decoration. Created for the 1947 classic "Miracle on 34th Street" with Natalie Wood, the eight reindeer and sleigh-riding St. Nick have a short but memorable cameo in the opening scene of the movie. As window dressing in the shop of Lillian Schary Waldman Interior Decoration, the arrangement startles a passerby named Kris Kringle (played by Edmund Gwenn), who points out errors in the composition, only to be dismissed as a kook.

Spoiler alert: That kook turns out to be the real Santa Claus. 

This piece of film history will be auctioned by movie memorabilia specialist Profiles in History during its 43rd Hollywood auction on Dec. 17 and 18. 

The piece was consigned by a private collector with what's believed to be one of the largest Christmas movie-themed collections in the world. "It's papier-mâché and a little crusty, but beautifully constructed by the 20th Century Fox props department," Profiles in History owner Joe Maddalena said. Indeed, the wire-armature reindeer have a sleek mid-century flair that is somewhat reminiscent of the figurative papier-mâché sculptures by the late Hollywood designer Tony Duquette. 

It is expected to sell for $20,000 to $30,000 -- a lot of jingle for a 10-inch-high Kringle, his flying companions and a hand-painted balsa-wood sleigh. "It's one of the few pieces from the movie that has survived," Maddalena said. "In my 26 years in this business, I have never seen a costume or anything else from this timeless film."

Also featured in the auction: More than three dozen props from another holiday favorite, Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas." 

-- David A. Keeps

Photo credit: Profiles in History


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