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These two auction categories took home top dollar
Dec 21, 2017
Katy B. Olson

Among the hottest items at Christie’s December Design sale, which unfolded on December 14, totaling $6,756,750: lamps by Tiffany Studios, tables by Diego Giacometti, and two of François-Xavier Lalanne’s epoxy stone-and-bronze lambs. The auction experienced what Christie’s termed “strong sell-through rates,” of 91 percent sold by lot and 97 percent sold by value.

Tiffany Studios' Gourd Lamp
Tiffany Studios’ Gourd Lamp; courtesy Christies

The top item sold was a rare Tiffany Studios gourd floor lamp, created circa 1900 to 1906, which took in $948,500. Two tables by Giacometti—a Hiboux et Grenouilles Low Table (circa 1970), realized $250,000, while a Caryatide Occasional Table (circa 1976), sold for $324,500.

The gourd lamp sale was indicative of strong Tiffany results overall, Christie’s reported. All of the lots offered were sold, including enamels, leaded glass lamps, blown-glass vases, and bronzes. Many of the Tiffany lots exceeded their original estimates.

The Lalanne and Tiffany auction wasn’t the only one to make the headlines this month. The Sotheby’s 20th Century Design auctions in December brought in some $26.4 million, beating out the estimate of $19.4 million and reporting sales of 87.5 percent across the three auctions. Two dedicated sales of important works by Tiffany Studios resulted in $12.4 million over two days, the highest-ever total for the auction house’s Tiffany sales.

“After successful careers as a painter and interior decorator, he shifted focus onto the design and production of stained glass windows,” Beth Vilinsky, design specialist at Christie’s in New York, told the auction house about Louis Comfort Tiffany. “His leaded glass lamps were a natural offshoot. The Tiffany factory, located in Queens, New York, produced lamps, as well as a wide variety of other decorative objects, for almost 40 years. ... The finest lampshades exhibit a wonderful harmony of colors.”

Other notable Tiffany pieces, each made of leaded glass and patinated bronze, included a Drophead Dragonfly Table Lamp (circa 1905); a Wisteria Table Lamp (circa 1905); a Laburnum Table Lamp (circa 1910); a Salamander Table Lamp (circa 1910); and a Twelve-Light Turtleback Tile Moorish Chandelier (circa 1900), which was also made of favrile, a colorful iridescent glass developed by Tiffany.

Sixty-nine items in total were on the auction block, including a vitrine by Carlo Bugatti as well as Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann’s Cla-Cla Reading Table, made of Macassar ebony, and his Bloch Daybed, made of burl amboyna, Macassar ebony, gilt bronze, and silk upholstery.

The Sotheby’s auction also saw the sale of Lalanne’s Bureau Crocodile desk, which was estimated at $300,000 to $500,000 but sold for $2.2 million, marking a new auction record for any of the artist’s Crocodile works as well his second-highest price at auction.

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