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SALE REVIEW / Sotheby’s Paris: Important Design

Les Lalanne and Diego Giacometti steal the show.

By Astrid Malingreau / 25th November 2021
Diego Giacometti, 'Panier' COURTESY: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

Diego Giacometti, ‘Panier’. (Lot 157, estimate €20,000-30,000, sold for €103,320)
COURTESY: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

Overview
Sotheby’s Paris held their traditional winter various owners’ sale in Paris on the 23rd of November. The sale of 162 lots totalled €27,205,934 (hammer price €22,225,900) against a high estimate of €14,045,000. 81% of lots were sold. On average, the lots performed 158.25% above their high estimates.

François-Xavier Lalanne, 'Hippopotame Bar', 1986 COURTESY: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

François-Xavier Lalanne, ‘Hippopotame Bar’, 1986. (Lot 23, estimate €2-3 million, sold for €6,139,800)
COURTESY: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio


Interest in Les Lalanne remains incredibly strong. Although there were no world records this time, the ‘Hippopotame Bar’ by François-Xavier Lalanne
the top lot was auctioned for €6,139,800, doubling its high estimate (Lot 23, estimate €2-3 million, hammer price €5,200,000). ‘Singe II’ fetched €1,585,500 (Lot 13, estimate €400,000-600,000, hammer price €1.3 million) making it one of the best performing lots of the sale.

François-Xavier Lalanne, 'Singe II', 1992 COURTESY: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

François-Xavier Lalanne, ‘Singe II’, 1992. (Lot 13, estimate €400,000-600,000, sold for €1,585,500 million)
COURTESY: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

‘Structure végétale’ by Claude Lalanne sold for €2,674,500 (Lot 6, estimate €500,000-700,000, hammer price €2.2 million) – the record for a work by Claude Lalanne was achieved by a closely related model of ‘Structure Végétale’, at Christie’s Paris earlier in the autumn (€3,740,000).

Claude Lalanne, 'Structure végétale', 1997 COURTESY: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

Claude Lalanne, ‘Structure végétale’, 1997. (Lot 6, estimate €500,000-700,000, sold for €2,674,500)
COURTESY: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

In addition, the sale offered a stunning selection of works by Diego Giacometti from private collections that comprised unique and rarely seen works, such as the adorable ‘Panier’ (basket) that sold for €103,320 (Lot 157, estimate €20,000-30,000, hammer price €82,000), the elegant ‘Star’ firedogs sold for €151,200 (Lot 152, estimate €120,000-180,000, hammer price €120,000), and the iconic ‘Stools’ for €1,101,500 (Lot 159, estimate €200,000-300,000, hammer price €900,000).

Diego Giacometti, pair of stools, circa 1975 COURTESY: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

Diego Giacometti, pair of stools, circa 1975. (Lot 159, estimate €200,000-300,000, sold for €1,101,500)
COURTESY: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

Amongst the highlights was the exquisite and sensual sculpture by Dame Magdalena Odundo that sold for €252,000 (Lot 46, estimate €60,000-80,000, hammer price €200,000). 

Dame Magdalene Odundo, 'Sculpture', 1993 COURTESY: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

Dame Magdalene Odundo, ‘Sculpture’, 1993. (Lot 46, estimate €60,000-80,000, sold for €252,000).
COURTESY: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

A positive surprise for Art Deco supporters was to see the pair of armchairs by Jacques Emile Ruhlmann sell for €508,600 (Lot 60, estimate €70,000-100,000, hammer price €410,000). 

Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, 'Pair of armchairs', circa 1920 COURTESY: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, ‘Pair of armchairs’, circa 1920. (Lot 60, estimate €70,000-100,000, sold for €508,600).
COURTESY: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

However, it was surprising to see the delicate soap holder by Armand-Albert Rateau bought in despite its low estimate of €10,000-20,000 (Lot 58). The floor lamp by Jean Royère (Lot 111, estimate €80-120,000) and the pink upholstered ‘Fauteuil Cité’ by Jean Prouvé (although it had sold for €150,000 in May 2019 in the very same salesroom) did not find new homes either perhaps due to their high estimate, or lack of glamorous provenance? 

Analysis
A single private collection always adds pizzazz to the prices and after the outstanding selection presented over the past months, it’s difficult to judge the first various owner sale of the season.

However, it is interesting to point out that most of the sale total came from the works by Les Lalanne (17 lots)  – representing 57.5% of the sale total – and the ones by Diego Giacometti (20 lots), which represented 27%. It is clear that the market is currently focusing its efforts on a few names. This also raises the issue that the three main auction houses risk limiting their appeal by only offering very high-end design, or large private collections, leaving the rest of the market (the largest one) to the other auction houses. To be continued… 

The Important Design sale was held at Sotheby’s Paris on 23rd November.

Article by Astrid Malingreau
Article by Astrid Malingreau
Astrid Malingreau is an independent advisor focused on 20th century contemporary design. She previously worked for Christie's in London and New York as a specialist in decorative arts and design. View all articles by Astrid Malingreau