Heritage Auctions, Dallas, TX, held a Tiffany, Lalique & Art Glass sale on April 29, 2021. Following is a review of several of the items.
There were only three Tiffany Studios lamps in the sale, all selling well. Lot #79038, a Nasturtium Lattice floor lamp sold best, realizing $150,000, including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $80,000 – $120,000. In my opinion, this is not the way the lamp was originally sold by Tiffany. The shade was a chandelier that was adapted into a floor lamp.
There were quite a few Tiffany Favrile vases in the sale, many of them from the estate of Arthur Reichstadt of Dallas, TX. Lot #79027, a Jack-in-the-Pulpit model, was the highest priced. It sold for $15,000, including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $2,000 – $3,000; a result that I have a lot of trouble understanding. The prices for Jack-in-the-Pulpit vases have been soft for quite a few years and this model is not the standard model, which in my opinion is much more desirable.
Rookwood Pottery has been in the gutter for decades. Personally I love it and don’t understand why, but prices have been steadily going down, so as a dealer I just can’t trade in it. But one decent vase, lot #79068, a large, 1903 standard glaze example with flowers, by Kataro Shirayamadani (in my opinion Rookwood’s best artist), did very well. It sold for $22,500, including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $700 – $900. Again this is a result that makes no sense to me. There are way better examples of Shirayamadani’s works that sell for less. The strangest things happen at auctions. Congratulations to the consignor.
For the complete results of the sale, click here. You will have to sign in for the prices (free).
If you read last week’s blog, you know that Rago Auctions set the world record price of $3,745,000 for a Tiffany lamp at auction. Today’s blog is about the rest of the auction, with total sales of $5,651,233, 89% sold by lot and 429% sold by value.
The second best performing lot of the sale was another Tiffany lamp, lot #274; a gorgeous 17″ diameter tuck-under Poppy, with beautiful, rich color. Personally I loved it, but it sold for much more than I was willing to pay. The result was an impressive $93,750, against an estimate of $35,000 – $45,000.
The third best performing lot in the sale, #124, was a surprise to me; a large pair of Grueby Faience scenic tiles decorated by Addison LeBoutillier sold for a very strong $81,250, including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $20,000–30,000.
One of the bigger surprises of the sale was lot #142, a Wisteria tile by Adelaide Robineau. It sold for a whopping $75,000, including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $7,500 – $10,000; almost 10 times the estimate. It was quite a day for ceramic tiles!
As the expert for Rago Auctions, I was sent photos of a very rare and unusual Tiffany Studios lamp for evaluation. I receive lots of photos from auction galleries for evaluation, but nothing like this. I was really wowed. It was so rare I wasn’t familiar with the model, but there it was illustrated in more than one book. It was originally exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900 and the following year at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. I suggested to Mike Fredericks, head of the lamp and glass division, that I thought it was worth $400,000 – $600,000, but that I thought the estimate should be much lower, perhaps $100,000 – $200,000, as low estimates are like catnip to cats.
The lamp was consigned by the family of a diplomat from the Truman Administration who had acquired it in the 1940s. Tiffany Studios lamps were totally out of fashion at the time, so my guess is it didn’t cost much. The family was willing to accept advice from Mike, who told them that a low estimate would be very helpful. They agreed to an estimate of $50,000 – $75,000, which meant that the reserve could not exceed $50,000. So technically the lamp could have sold for $50,000 if only one person were willing to pay the price.
Examination of the lines in the shade proved that it was actually the same lamp as in the photos in the books. The condition of the lamp was exceptional, as the lamp had been in storage for decades. There were a few problem with the shade including three small star cracks and one chip on the fitter rim. For an ordinary lamp, that probably would have seriously impacted the price, but not for an extraordinary lamp.
I messaged David Rago that I predicted a selling price in the range of $350,000+, but that I wished it would sell for $1,000,000, not really believing it, as only a dozen Tiffany lamps have ever sold for $1,000,000+ at auction. David said he was sure it would exceed $200,000. Eleven bidders were on the telephone, which included representatives from four museums. Many bidders held their cards close to their vests and were scattered among the live audience and on several live bidding platforms.
The bidding started below $100,000. I bid up to $170,000 for a client. I told him in advance that we had very little chance of being the successful bidders. As the bidding progressed higher, bidders dropped out left and right. It came down to two determined bidders on the telephones. They pushed the final price to $3,745,000, including buyer’s premium — a world record price for a Tiffany lamp at auction. The previous record was $3,372,500, set at Christie’s New York on December 13, 2018 for a very rare Pond Lily table lamp.
Mike Fredericks had the following to say after the sale. “Upon seeing the lamp, particularly the distinct pattern of the waves in the globe, I was certain that we had the exact lamp from the 1900 Expo, and that this was an extraordinary find. The uncertainty was how would a historical, possible one-of-a-kind, yet non-leaded Tiffany lamp be received by the collecting community. As we can now see, it was received quite well, as a masterpiece as this should have been.
The family was very open to my suggestion that a conservative estimate would encourage bidder participation, and the results are better than anticipated. This was a magnificent piece of Tiffany history, and a magnificent windfall for a very excited family of consignors. Great results for our team at Rago Wright, as well, and I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Congratulations to the whole Rago/Wright crew for a fabulous job and a world record price! And congratulations to the family for a possibly life-changing result!
Tune in next week for a review of the rest of the sale.
Brunk Auction, Asheville, NC, held an Art Glass sale on April 23, 2021. Many of the items were from the Estate of Jay R. Doros, Springfield, New Jersey; a prominent collector.
I set everything up (at least I thought so) to bid online at the auction, but Murphy’s Law was in effect. I tried to bid on lot 1 but the computer wouldn’t let me. This is the lot I wanted more than anything else in the sale, as it was a fabulous and rare red Tiffany Favrile Tel el Amarna vase with great color and a black decorated collar. By the time I straightened out the mess, the lot was long gone for a very low price. I couldn’t have been more upset. It sold for $5,228, including buyer’s premium, against a very low estimate of $500 – $700. It was accompanied by an original receipt from Sotheby’s; June 8, 1988, lot 465, $8800. I could have sold it in the range of $15,000 – $20,000, so you can understand my chagrin.
Another really good Tiffany Favrile lot was #5, a cameo vase. The red flowers had been molten applied and then the entire vase was hand-carved by a glass artist after cooling. I wanted to buy this one too, but it went for $10,880, including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $800 – $1,200. The lot was accompanied by an original purchase receipt from Prozzo Auction, Portland, Maine, where it was purchased in August, 2006 for $11,300. Hmm.
The market for non-Tiffany art glass has been weak for the last decade or so, but a rare Durand Lava vase still did well. It sold for $5,843, including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $300 – $500. That’s pretty good considering it had problem issues of a “tiny internal rim crack, faint hairline at interior of base, some scratches”. Ordinarily problems like that would sink any lesser item. It had originally been purchased at Fanfare Antiques, Lahoska, Pennsylvania, in August, 1973 for $5,500. So it held its value better than most non-Tiffany glass.
I thought it would be interesting to take a historic look at the Tiffany Studios lamp market. I forgot which lamps were the winners, so my research was interesting to me (and hopefully you too). Following is a brief review.
December, 2018 was an auspicious month in the annals of Tiffany Studios history, as the top two prices ever for Tiffany Studios lamps sold at public auction were achieved. December 13, 2018 was the date Christie’s New York set the record for the highest price. A very rare Pond Lily table lamp, selling as lot #9, with an estimate of $1,800,000 – $2,500,000, realized an impressive $3,372,500, including buyer’s premium.
The day before, December 12, 2018, Sotheby’s New York broke the record for the highest price ever with a rare, colorful Trumpet Creeper lamp. Estimated at $800,000 – $1,200,000, it sold for $2,295,000, including buyer’s premium. The record would last only one day when it would be surpassed by the Pond Lily lamp, pictured above, at Christie’s New York.
We have to go all the way back to December 6, 2005 to find the third place lamp, a magnificent Magnolia floor lamp. It sold at Christie’s New York as lot #319, with an estimate of $900,000 – $1,200,000 and realized $2,032,000, including buyer’s premium.
Surprisingly only 12 Tiffany Studios lamps have ever cracked the $1,000,000 mark and approximately 32 more have crossed the $500,000 mark. Unsurprisingly many of these 44 exclusive lamps have been Wisteria examples.
For the top lots from Sotheby’s click here. For the top lots from Christie’s click here.