Dec. 11, 2017 – A fully curated selection of superior-quality modern art and design rang the register at $1.6 million at Palm Beach Modern’s (PBMA) Nov. 25 Thanksgiving weekend auction. Furniture knocked it out of the park, especially the distinctive 1960s designs of Paul Evans. Art continued its hot streak with a Michael Goldberg painting commanding an above-estimate $38,400.
“Mid-century furniture was stronger than it has ever been in any of our sales,” said auctioneer and PBMA co-owner Rico Baca. “Looking at the initial numbers, I can say quite confidently that there was a 90 to 95 percent sell-through rate on furniture.”
The category was led by a set of eight Paul Evans leather and metal dining chairs that sold for $48,640 against a pre-sale estimate of $20,000–$30,000 – a record for the form. Comprising two armchairs and six side chairs, the desirable seating suite is referenced in two respected books about Evans’ body of work.
“There were staff members on all eight phone lines for the Evans chairs, and there were even more competitors online,” said Baca. “They sold to a phone bidder from France who was very excited to win them.”
In total, 12 Paul Evans lots were offered, including a monumental bronzed resin, slate, wood and lacquered steel cabinet designed by Evans for Directional, which realized $23,040 (est. $15,000–$20,000); and a wonderful bronzed resin-over-steel and glass Stalagmite dining table that rose to $10,880 (est. $5,000–$7,000).
“We were so pleased for the consignors of the Stalagmite table,” said Baca. “They’re a group of brothers who were young boys when we started our gallery. Their father did upholstery work for us. In time, they went to work for their dad and also started buying furniture. The Evans table, which they purchased for only $150, was their first consignment with us. They came to the auction as a family – including their father – to watch as their early investment paid them back many times over.”
Two little girls, ages 6 and 9, clapped excitedly as their parents’ consignment – a Michael Goldberg oil painting originally purchased for $7 – soared to $38,400. “I think after the hammer fell there was some talk of a trip to Walt Disney World,” Baca said with a smile. “It was quite a lesson to them about the power of both art and investment.”
Another premier art lot was a signed Sam Francis (American, 1923-1994) original acrylic-on-paper work with a stamp from the artist’s estate and backed by scholarship from the Sam Francis Foundation. One of three Francis originals entered in the sale, it achieved $30,720 against a $15,000–$25,000 estimate.
Palm Beach Modern Auctions has enjoyed a 100% sell-through rate on all Picasso pottery offered in its sales. The top example in the November 25 session was an owl-form vessel that made $19,200. “There’s such a strong following for Picasso pottery,” Baca said. “There are far more buyers than there are sellers, and now we’re receiving Picasso consignments from outside the United States – there were some pieces from France in this sale. This tells us we’re reaching the high end of the market with our prices.”
Five beautiful chandeliers in the manner of Stilnovo were consigned and shipped from Italy and offered in consecutive lots. Four were won by a noted British designer, with one of them reaching $12,800 against expectations of $2,000–$3,000.