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Pair of white glove auctions leads Sotheby's $25.6 million Sales of Important 20th Century Design in New York
Tiffany Studios, An Important “Trumpet Creeper” Table Lamp with a "Tree" base underside of shade mounting post impressed 28277 and 11 mounting pin on shade impressed 11 top of base column impressed 11 base plate impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK/28277 and 11 underside of perimeter base cushion impressed 11 leaded glass, patinated bronze 27 1/4 in. (69.2 cm) high 18 1/2 in. (47 cm) diameter of shade circa 1903. Estimate: $800,000/1.2million. Sold for $2,295,000. Courtesy Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s December auctions of 20th Century Design concluded this Wednesday in New York with an outstanding total of $25.6 million achieved across three sales — trumping their high estimate and with an impressive 89.5% of all lots sold.

Below is a look at the important pieces and collections that drove this week’s sales in New York:

Auction Total $9.1 Million
100% Sold

Examples of Tiffany’s celebrated leaded glass lamps triumphed during our annual offering of the firm’s designs on Wednesday afternoon. The sale was led by an Important "Trumpet Creeper" Table Lamp, which far surpassed its $1.2 million high estimate to sell for $2,295,000 – a new auction record for the model. Undoubtedly the finest example of the model that is known to exist, the present work from circa 1903 exhibits a superb painterly interpretation and bears witness to the highest artistic achievements of the firm’s lamp production.

Another highlight of the firm’s greatest accomplishments in leaded glass, an Important “Wisteria” Table Lamp from the James F. Scott Collection, achieved $945,000 (estimate $600/800,000). The fully saturated and artistic glass selection of the present example distinguishes it as one of the finest examples ever to appear on the auction market.

The firm’s floor lamps also commanded top prices, with an Important "Snowball" Floor Lamp, formerly in the distinguished collection of Walter P. Chrysler Jr., selling for $1,095,000, and a Rare "Poinsettia" Floor Lamp – one of the finest examples of the model ever to appear at auction –achieving $795,000, with both establishing new auction records for their respective models.

John La Farge’s dramatic Dawn Comes on the Edge of Night rounded out the afternoon sale when it sold for $765,000. The incredible figural window is a masterpiece which showcases La Farge’s extraordinary skill and is enriched by its remarkable, storied provenance – it was commissioned by New York businessman and art collector, Frank Lusk Babbott in 1903 for the staircase in his Brooklyn home. Similar examples of La Farge’s extraordinary stained-glass creations reside in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and in the Frick Building in Pittsburgh.

Auction Total $11.6 Million
81% Sold

Collectors clamored for Surrealist works by François-Xavier Lalanne during our morning sale of Important Design on Wednesday, with prices for the artist’s creations achieving more than half of the sale’s top prices. The works by François-Xavier on offer were topped by eight of his signature stone and bronze sheep, which together fetched $1.9 million – far exceeding their combined high estimate of $1.2 million.

Pieces by Lalanne’s wife and co-creator, Claude, also brought top prices throughout the sale, with an exceptional Pair of Unique “Végétale” Mirrors selling for $645,000. Commissioned directly from the artist by James Corcoran Gallery, Santa Monica, California, for the former owner in 1986, the mirrors are one-of-a-kind.

Works on offer from the whimsical collection of Washingtonians Dick and Jane Stoker achieved prices well in excess of their high estimates, such as Harry Bertoia’s Untitled (Monumental Wire Construction), which sold for $675,000 (estimate $250/$350,000). Bertoia’s abstract sculptures manifest his deeply spiritual contemplations of nature and the cosmos, with his wire sculptures of the 1960s ranking among his most complex investigations of the universe. Bertoia explored these themes in related brass-coated wire construction sculptures, such as Comet (1964) in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Art, and Sunlit Straw (1964), an installation at the Northwestern National Life Insurance Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Sculpture by Bertoia performed well throughout the sale, with other highlights including his Untitled (Tree), also from the Stokers’ collection, which brought $300,000 (estimate $40/60,000), and his “Cloud” Sculpture from circa 1957 that fetched $162,500 (estimate $60/80,000).

In addition, more than three phone bidders vied for Wendell Castle’s important Executive Desk from 1973, which established a new auction record for the artist when it sold for $471,000, besting its $200,000 high estimate. Direct from the designer’s personal collection, the dynamic and voluminous design is a rare and coveted example of Castle’s stack lamination technique, which he helped develop in the 1960s.

Among the highlights from the Arts & Crafts movement was Gustav Stickley’s Library Table, Model No. 420 that brought $275,000 against its high estimate of $150,000, establishing a new auction record for the model. Created circa 1901, the work is one of only three extant examples of this rare table with reverse-tapered legs.

Auction Total $4.9 Million
100% Sold

Sotheby's December offerings of 20th Century Design began on Tuesday, with the dedicated sale of masterworks of Tiffany Studios and Prewar Design from the Geyer Collection that saw over 63% of sold lots achieve prices above their high estimates. Superlative examples of the firm’s celebrated table and floor lamps were led by an Important “Dragonfly” Floor Lamp, which bested its high estimate of $500,000 to sell for $675,000. The work is distinguished by its exceptionally striking coloration of the shade and rare jeweled “Ball” floorbase.

Among the firm’s most celebrated designs, an outstanding “Pony Wisteria” Table Lamp circa 1905 achieved $615,000 (estimate $300/500,000), and set a new auction record for the model. While the exact color juxtaposition in the present work is well documented in Tiffany’s landscape windows, it is nearly unprecedented that such effect was transferred to a Wisteria shade. The distinct glass selection in this lamp evokes a sunset sky at dusk.

In addition, a Rare Figural Lamp Screen and an Important and Rare Seven-Piece "Pond Lily" Desk Set topped the diverse array of the firm’s fancy goods on offer, each selling for $112,500 and $87,500 respectively. The sale’s chapter dedicated to European Art Nouveau furniture was led by Émile Gallé’s intricate "Libellules" Vitrine, which brought $118,750 (estimate $60/80,000).

Propelled by their shared love for Tiffany Studios, Burton and Paula Geyer have together amassed one of the finest private collections of works by the legendary firm, with a special emphasis on museum-quality lamps and fancy goods, representing some of Tiffany’s most coveted designs.

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