The preview of an auction at Wright Gallery remains one of my great personal pleasures: I have often likened it to going to a great, small design museum where you can touch everything.
It’s fun to look at the items in the catalog and online, but really, nothing beats going to Wright’s show room and seeing how the staff creates the display vignettes.
I went the day before the auction, where Wright’s staff was happy with the merchandise and clearly enthusiastic about the sale. I talked with Claire Warner, who is back at Wright to develop its contemporary art program, and who said she thought this group of pieces were the strongest the house has ever presented, and I am inclined to agree. Although this sale has fewer lots than some of Wright’s previous offerings, they are all relatively high-ticket.
As soon as you entered the space, you were confronted with one of the major pieces in the sale: a great secretary designed by Gio Ponti; Crowned with a split pediment, it’s almost “post-modern.” Estimated at $30-50K, it didn’t sell.
Other Ponti items fared better. A pair of 1954 lounge chairs for a house in Caracas, estimated at 20-30K, went for $92,750. They are shown here with a dazzling brass table with retractable shelves by Gabriella Crespi, which sold for its high estimate of $20,000.
This great little “unique coffee table” from the Caracas project went for $6.875, just below the high estimate.
A gate from the Caracas house sold for $5,000, below its 7-9K estimate.
This flashy “illuminated bar cabinet,” manufactured by Fontana Arte, that Ponti designed in collaboration with Pietro Chiesa, was estimated at 20-30K, but sold for $74,500.
And this very sweet vanity and chair that Ponti designed for the Royal Hotel in Naples, estimated at 7-9K, went for $13,750.