Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Auction Watch: Noguchi Table Sells for Over $100,000

Noguchi chess table captures $109,250 at S and S Auction

Written by Auction House PR
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 15:32


[Excerpted]  REPAUPO, N.J. – A rare and important chess table designed by Isamu Noguchi for Herman Miller in the 1940s and discovered by a contractor renovating a home outside Newark, sold for $109,250 at an estates sale Oct. 22 conducted by S&S Auction Inc.

“The contractor found the table – in sections,” said Glenn Sweeney of S&S Auction Inc. “Someone suggested he bring it to our auction, which he did, along with four other modern pieces. He had no idea of the table's importance until he saw it featured on the home page of our website. In the end, a buyer in Los Angeles purchased it for $95,000, plus the buyer's premium.”

The original design for the table was made in 1944 for the Imagery of Chess exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York City. There, it was lauded as “the most beautiful piece in the show.” In 1947, designer George Nelson convinced Herman Miller to commercially produce the table, but in limited quantities. Only about eight of this particular table are known to exist.

The table was by far the top lot in a two-session auction that featured uncataloged items in the daytime and cataloged lots in the evening. The table sold in the evening session, along with 232 other lots, most of which were fresh-to-the-market items pulled from prominent estates and local collections. Over the course of a long day, around 500 people attended the auction live.

In addition, more than 250 people registered to bid online, through, and phone and absentee bids were brisk at both sessions. Most lots were sold via the phone and the Internet.

“The table helped make a good sale a great sale,” Sweeney remarked, “with healthy prices realized for many of the better items proving the upper end of the market remains strong.”

No mention of how the contractor managed to take the table (and the other items) -- with or without the owner's consent?  In lieu of pay?  Because the owners were stupid and said haul away that shit?  Also, no mention of how the table was restored (it came in "sections," after all, something had to be done to put it back together, or was it just like a jig-saw puzzle?) or how much any restoration work cost. 

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