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Going, going, not gone: L.A. Modern Auctions takes unsold lots and offers them again, at low-ball prices

October 21, 2010 | 10:48 am


Los Angeles Modern Auctions sold about 70% of the 500-plus lots in its Sunday sale, and though that normally would be the end of the story, the auctioneer wrote a sequel.

Furniture, lighting, rugs, artwork and other pieces that did not generate bids high enough to meet the reserve -- the minimum price the owner was willing to accept -- are being offered for sale again, this time at set prices. Those no-bid prices are based on the reserve plus the buyer's premium the auction house charges on all sales.

What does this mean for would-be buyers? It means you're paying the lowest price for which you could have won the piece at auction, except you don't have to deal with competing bids or guessing the seller's reserve. You pay the minimum amount, the owner unloads his or her piece and the auction house gets its commission.

The idea came from Internet sites that not only solicit bids but also sell merchandise at set prices, LAMA Managing Director Shannon Loughrey said. She expects to field inquiries on the current inventory through mid-November.

Browsing the list of unsold lots and comparing the new set prices against the catalog's pre-auction sale estimates makes for interesting reading. Among the lots that went unsold is "Man's Face," above, a 6.25-by-4.25-inch earthenware tile by Pablo Picasso, estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. It's selling for $2,940.


The pair of 1960s modern end tables above, manufacturer unknown, had been estimated at $800 to $1,200  for the lot. Now it's selling for $490.

A Frank Gehry-designed snake lamp -- 5 feet, 7 inches long -- also went unsold Sunday. Circa 1988, the signed piece was one in an edition of 60. The pre-auction estimate was $18,000 to $25,000. The post-auction price: $18,375.

Believed to date to the 1930s, a drafting desk by the legendary Kem Weber was estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. The post-auction price: $2,450. Keep reading to see more auction leftovers offered at no-bid prices ...

The Peacock chair, above, a 1947 Hans Wegner design, was estimated at $2,000 to $3,000. Post-auction price: $1,470.


Gio Ponti's 1955 stainless steel flatware still could set a modern table. The pre-auction estimate for eight five-piece place settings plus two serving spoons: $4,000 to $6,000. The price now: $4,287.50.


Dove dinnerware by Jean Luce -- 15 dinner plates, 14 salad plates, 16 bread/butter plates, 16 cups, 16 saucers, eight large bowls, eight fruit bowls, one tray, one teapot and two oval bowls -- was estimated at $1,200 to $1,500. Post-auction price: $918.75.



This Diego Giacometti bronze pedestal table was estimated at $70,000 to $90,000. Post-auction price: $73,500.


Lot 286, eight Paul McCobb chairs from the 1950s, was estimated at $3,000 to $4,000. Post-auction price: $2,450.

The estimate for a pair of Peter Shire lamps designed for the 1984 Olympic Village in Los Angeles: $18,000 to $25,000. Post-auction price: $9,800.


From the 1980s to the 1970s: Lucite master Charles Hollis Jones' chest of drawers and side tables, above, were grouped as a single lot estimated at $8,000 to $12,000. The price now: $7,962.50.


C. Jere "Water Lily" sculpture, 25 inches tall, was estimated at $700 to $900. Price now: $612.50.



The "Geometri I" rug, a 1960 piece by the great Verner Panton that measures 65 inches by 41 inches, was estimated at $1,000 to $1,500. The price now: $612.50.


Two Hollywood Regency sofas, each 71 inches long, comprised lot 40 of the auction. Estimate: $2,000 to $3,000. Post-auction price: $1,837.50.



Before the auction, my fellow blogger David A. Keeps previewed the bidding on a 1,300-square-foot stained glass ceiling created by Roger Darricarrere in 1965. Offers on the piece, estimated at $80,000 to $100,000, never reached the seller's reserve price, so now it's for sale to the first buyer willing to fork over $79,625. 

-- Craig Nakano

Photo credit: Los Angeles Modern Auctions


Results from the auction house Wright

Gaetano Pesce clothesline lighting

The Brody estate auction


"Man's Face," a 6.25-by-4.25-inch earthenware tile by Pablo Picasso, was estimated at $3,000 to $5,000, is selling for $2,940."Man's Face," a 6.25-by-4.25-inch earthenware tile by Pablo Picasso, was estimated at $3,000 to $5,000, is selling for $2,940.