These Design Lots Broke $1 Million at Auction in 2018
Collectors covet rare design objects for different reasons that sometimes transcend monetary value—a work’s enduring artistry, for example, or its limited quantity. Yet its value still comes into play at auction, where in 2018 alone, several historic furniture designers had records broken, including Tiffany Studios, Pierre Chareau, and Jean Royère.
To get the specifics, Galerie tapped Artnet’s database and found the highest-selling design lots from Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips in New York and London for 2018. Here are the top ten.
1. Tiffany Studios, ‘Pond Lily’ Table Lamp, 1903
Sold for: $3.4 million at Christie’s New York
This is the second time that this lot has set a record for a Tiffany Studios item at auction, the first time being in 1989, when it sold for $550,000, also at Christie’s.
2. Diego Giacometti, ‘Table de coiffeuse avec oiseau et coupe;’ ‘Tabouret de coiffeuse avec souris’
Sold for: $2.4 million at Christie’s London
Along with his brother Alberto, Diego Giacometti established himself by designing works for a range of eminent clientele. This piece remained in the family of the original commissioner until it went to auction.
3. Diego Giacometti, ‘Berceau’ Low table
Sold for: $2.2 million at Christie’s New York
The animal heads on this table are Diego Giacometti’s tribute to a fox he once adopted, and from whom he was inseparable—that is, until Alberto, who shared his studio and found the animal’s odor repulsive, set her free one night.
4. Diego Giacometti, ‘La promenade des amis’ console
Sold for: $2.2 million at Phillips London
In his works, Giacometti frequently called upon figures of animals that might be considered powerful or majestic, such as the horse seen here.
5. Pierre Chareau, ‘Religieuse’ Floor Lamp, Model SN31
Sold for: $2.1 million at Christie’s New York
This June sale marked a new auction record for the designer. The lamp may have been inspired by habits worn by Catholic nuns, though Chareau so rarely left a written explanation of his work that this is impossible to confirm.
6. Jean Royère, ‘Étoile’ sideboard from the Dumont Residence, France
Sold for: $1.8 million at Sotheby’s
This oak sideboard with star-like straw marquetry isn’t just the highest-selling Royère to date—it also shattered its high estimate by a factor of six.
7. François-Xavier Lalanne, ‘Sauterelle’ Bar
Sold for: $1.6 million at Sotheby’s New York
This functional bar, which has wings that convert to trays, is one in an edition of only two. The other lives in Queen Elizabeth II’s private collection at Buckingham Palace.
8. Eileen Gray, ‘Transat’ armchair
Sold for: $1.6 million
Gray’s Transat chair remains in immaculate condition some 90 years after its creation, having maintained the original lacquered frame, nickel-plated fittings, and even animal-hide upholstery. This sale set the world auction record for any Transat chair, of which there are twelve.
9. François-Xavier Lalanne, Four ‘Moutons de Laine’
Sold for: $1.2 million
This set of four bronze pieces—specifically, one sheep and three ottomans—are still clad in their original wool.