SNAKE Auction Observer 001: undervalued furniture ending soon
10 things ending this week on auction sites that I think are undervalued, or affordable. I’ve seen lots of undervalued items lately on LA, and so I wanted to share them. Focus is on furniture. If you’re looking for anything specific hit me up. (Info on how to use Liveauctioneers at the end of the email.)
Brad Miller Stone Form Sculpture, Liveauctioneers, shipping from Asheville NC: A straight up rock that appears to have been owned by Jack Lenor Larsen, the important upholsterer. Pretty cheap and very white and reminds me of that rock-shaped lamp from Italy that goes for money. Cheap at $100.
Also for sale in auction (A4S): Ponti glass bottle and stopper, turned wood bowls, Picasso fish.
Dining / Occasional Table, Manner of Josef Hoffmann, LA.c, shipping from West Palm FL: Looks like but probably isn’t Joseph Hoffmann, the Austrian architect who made the Kubus armchair (and designed the Venice Bienale). Why isn’t it? I’m not Austrian, but if something good is for sale for only about $300 then it’s probably not designed by a renowned architect born before the lightbulb was patented.
A4S: Springer furniture, Calder prints, Hermès gadgets…
Verner Panton (4) Panton Chairs for Vitra, 1959/1999, LA.c, from Scottsdale AZ: One of Panton’s more mid offerings, but honestly… a fine chair. Bright, simple, sharp from the side. You can find one of these for about $100, so four colors for $300 (plus premium, and shipping) isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s not a rip-off, and beats curated store prices (and selection).
A4S: Heavy on paintings…
Sergio Asti for ICM Italian Flatware, 49 Pcs., LA.com, NY NY: My favorite (and maybe the best) silverware since Philip Johnson’s for the Four Seasons (which is in another price stratosphere). Big sets of Asti flatware are hard to find. These don’t have the colored accents on them, which makes them less Italian, but more translatable to formal contexts, dinners, etc, I think. $325, lots of watchers.
A4S: Tiffany, McCobb, Kagan…
Vico Magistretti for Artemide 'Selene' Fiberglass Table and Chairs, LA.c, Addison IL: I like just about everything Magistretti’s done, but his work for Artimede is special: it’s available, brilliant, and occasionally very cheap. The white here can get dirty after about a decade, but I’ve found the Bronner’s christmas-colored soap does a good job cleaning it. He also did this set in Hamas green. The auction house also has a couple Breitlings and the lips couch from the chicks bathroom at Grand Central Oyster Bar for sale. $175
Pair of Mario Bellini Hide "Cab 414" Armchairs, LA.c, NOLA: Bellini did the Camaleonda and other refined/elegant furniture pieces, sort of a sexier older brother to Magistretti (though in many ways not). I don’t think taupe is going away — why would it? It looks rich. People like that. $1300, past few have sold for $2K for a pair. Not cheap, but nearly a fair deal for a classic, esp. if you’re close.
A4S: Art, metallic 80s furniture (good shit)
Geoffrey Beene Swid Powell Orange Coffee Tea Service, LA.c, Asheville NC: Swid Powell is the first name in tea sets IMO. Founded by two women who worked at Knoll and left in the ‘80s, it’s simpler than the ornate original British and China collectible teaware sets, and cheaper than Deco (which I like better), and, just a bit more restrained than some of the Deco-like Memphis work. Color reminds me not so much of Beene than that Raf Simons fireman CK jacket from 2019. Incidentally, CK and Swid Powell have a collection together — it’s not bad. Some SP goes for a ton of money. $100, same auctioneer as the rock up top.
Attrib. Gianfranco Frattini Library Bookcase, LA.c Garnett PA: Looks like Umbo but dark wood. Isn’t really. May be from Frattini (who designed the Sesann sofa and Cassina stacking chairs), probably isn’t. Most Frattini shelving looks close to Cadovius. Does it matter who made this one? Maybe. Certainly old and arresting, and close to New York, too. $850
A4S: lots of wrought iron dogshit, but one of those vases where it’s a face at every angle.
Two Ferrari Factory Desk Accessory Items, LA.c, Auburn, IN: All of Schedoni’s Ferrari luggage goes for money; the only way to luck into a cheap set is to sync up your thrifting or search with someone’s divorce. Day of, ideally. These aren’t as practical, but make good gifts. Made from car parts. Small, so cheap shipping. $50
A4S: Many signs, including a Coca Cola button.
if you feel like spending cash to ship something overseas but still want a deal buy:
ELIO MARTINELLI Una lampada da tavolo 'Cobra', LA.c, Genoa: These things run like $2k new. Old is obviously better, even with shipping (never bought off LA in Europe, you’re on your own here) this is a deal. Just email the auction house before bidding and ask if they’ll send it your way. House also has an Edoardo Vittoria for Tecno which speaks for itself. €800 ($865)
That’s it. More next week.
How to buy on Liveauctioneers: LA is an online portal for actual auction houses. Sign up, with your credit card, then digitally bid against other digital and live bidders. To actually bid on an item (say, one of the above), you must register for that auction before bidding. There’s a register button/prompt on every item. Click that. Houses usually accept your registration right away or within a day. Then you bid live. Auctions are in a pop-up window. Like eBay, no secret to bidding: if you really want something, be prepared to spend.
Most bids occur live, though prices occasionally creep up before auctions. Sometimes items go for a lot of money, sometimes they don’t, sometimes they don’t sell. In this sense, it’s not much different from eBay. Because of buyers’ premiums (a fee), usually in the 25% range, and shipping or pick-up, you should expect to pay more. Usually you have about a week to get the item or arrange shipping. Auction houses usually have third party shippers they recommend, or occasionally ship themselves. Sometimes it’s affordable, sometimes it’s not. Picking it up yourself is cheapest.
As with anything, insane deals are rare, nice deals or fair prices are more frequent. If you have more questions about LA email me.