A major design collector, Christophe Van de Weghe, was making his presence felt at the US design auctions this month. The New York-based art dealer purchased an elegant tubular brass standing lamp (c1946-51) by Gino Sarfatti for $30,000 (estimate $10,000-$15,000) at Phillips de Pury in New York, and three teak stools (1965) by Pierre Jeanneret from Punjab University in Chandigarh for $6,250 (estimate $7,000-$9,000) at Wright auction house in Chicago. Jeanneret also shone at the Phillips de Pury design sale: a bookcase made for the university library (1961) fetched $110,500 (estimate $100,000-$120,000). And a late 19th-century sideboard by English architect EW Godwin went for $482,500 (estimate $500,000-$600,000) in the auction house’s parallel Design Masters sale.
The talking point at Christie’s New York sale of high-end art deco works from the collection of the late nightclub owner Steven Greenberg was the strong showing by the celebrated French art nouveau painter Jean Dupas (1882-1964) and the Swiss sculptor and interior designer Jean Dunand (1877-1942), who between them bagged seven places in the sale’s top 10. “Jean Dunand was the star of the sale. The Dunand vases went much higher than expected,” says Adriana Friedman of DeLorenzo Gallery in Manhattan. A lacquered metal vase inlaid with eggshell (c1925) fetched $902,500 against a paltry estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.
A range of works at this month’s Design Miami fair, by high-profile artists not usually linked with the design sector, drew many crossover collectors from the adjoining Art Basel Miami Beach fair. Ceramic ashtrays by the US artist Sterling Ruby, on sale at Galerie Pierre Marie Giraud of Brussels and priced between $4,000 and $10,000, sold out. Work by Robert Loughlin proved popular at Johnson Trading Gallery (quirky vintage tables and chairs acquired at flea markets, are adorned with Loughlin’s cartoon-ish figure of a square-jawed man smoking). These items, priced between $5,000 and $9,000, found favour with private and public collectors; New York collector Beth Rudin DeWoody and the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh both bagged pieces by the late artist, a doyen of the 1980s East Village art scene in New York.
It was only a matter of time before fledgling fairs piggybacked on Frieze New York, which launches its second edition in May. A new design fair, founded by the architect Steven Learner, is due to open near the Meatpacking district in May, several miles from Frieze’s Randall’s Island uptown location. The fair “will have a select collection of vintage and contemporary design and art. There will be a curatorial platform for ‘micro-shows’ from local and international museums”, says Learner.
Galerie Downtown François Laffanour in Paris has extended its exhibition of furniture by the influential architect Oscar Niemeyer, who died on December 5 aged 104, until January 5. The luxurious chairs and chaises longues, which curve and bend just like Niemeyer’s buildings, range in price from €20,000 to €100,000, though most of the sought-after items have been snapped up by devotees of the Brazilian visionary.
It’s time to dig out your old games console from the attic. The Museum of Modern Art in New York has acquired 14 video games dating from 1980 to 2009 that, it says, are “outstanding examples of interaction design”. Expect to see plenty of forty-something visitors when the games, including Pac-Man (1980), and Tetris (1984), go on show next March.
French design dealers are not happy about plans to extend the droit de suite payment to decorative arts and design works. This royalty is payable to artists or their heirs each time a work is resold during the designer’s lifetime and for 70 years following his or her death. The Syndicat National des Antiquaires, the French antique dealers’ association, has outlined a raft of conditions for the resale rights scheme in consultation with France’s culture ministry. “Design works [should] benefit from the same safeguards as other works of art,” say the official guidelines. The royalty is subsequently expected to be payable on a sliding scale from 0.25 per cent to 4 per cent, and capped at €12,500. Sales must take place in France and be more than €750.
“This will be an extra expense for galleries. Most French dealers want the idea abandoned,” says Hélin Serre, director of the Galerie Downtown François Laffanour in Paris. Guillaume Cerutti, the president of Sotheby’s France, says the move will have little impact on the auction house, which already applies droit de suite on design items. But, he adds: “This agreement is an important step – confusion reigns at present.”
The Syndicat National des Antiquaires is certainly making its presence felt in the US. In November, the French association backed the Salon: Art+Design fair in New York and is now teaming up with the veteran Florida-based International Fine Art Expositions (IFAE) to launch the new Miami Art+Design fair. Scheduled to open in February 2014, in the Noguchi Bayfront Park area of downtown Miami, the fair “will host 58 carefully vetted dealers from around the world”, according to www.ifae.com.