WESTPORT, CONN. — Off to a fresh start, Travis and Kate Worrell, principals of the newly formed Westport Auction, conducted their first sale on Sunday, May 19. The auction attracted a great deal of attention with midcentury furniture and accessories proving to be the most popular items of the day.
The gallery is located in prime retail space that is no more than 100 yards from the Westport train station. The attractive and accessible building is the old site of the Saugatuck Post Office. “People still come in and want to buy stamps and ship packages,” said the auctioneer.
Situated within a stone’s throw from the train station, easy access is a major draw for New York clients, according to the auctioneer — at least under normal circumstances. A train derailment just prior to the sale resulted in a Metro North rail line closing on the day of the auction, which hampered access to the entire area. Despite the inability for many clients to be able to attend the auction, Worrell commented that the sale “did well. We were definitely affected by the derailment and the closing of the rail line, but sales were still very good.”
The telephones and Internet activity was very good throughout the day, as well as bidding from the moderate-sized crowd in the gallery. The auctioneer reported “tons of calls after the sale from people that were not able to attend the auction,” resulting in private treaty sales for the majority of the items that went unsold during the sale.
A good mixture of midcentury and classical antiques were offered, all estate-fresh merchandise. The midcentury items fared very well, while the classical items went so-so. With the expected influx of Manhattan buyers at future sales, Worrell says the auction house will continue to test the current formula.
The top lot of the auction came as a Harvey Prober sectional sofa was offered. Fresh from a Stratford estate, that of a woman who was a New York School of Interior Design student in the 1960s, the sofa attracted attention from dealers and retail clients. The auctioneer commented that the piece had been ordered new by the woman in the early 1970s with tie-dyed fabric by Jack Lenor Larson. Several phones were lined up as the piece crossed the auction block. Stiff competition, however, came from the front of the gallery where a local retail customer was seated. Bids bounced back and forth between one telephone bidder and the couple, with the phone ultimately claiming the lot at $5,700.
Another item attracting a great deal of attention from telephone bidders and the Internet was a pair of Pepe Mandoza lamps. The free-form lamps, made in Mexico, were constructed of brass and ceramic. Worrell reported a huge amount of presale interest in the lamps, with them selling to one of six phone bidders at $5,100.
Several pieces of Dunbar furniture had been among the items consigned from the Stratford estate, including a burl sideboard that measured more than 6 feet long. Comprising of four blind doors within a dark metal base, the rare piece was marked with a brass label marked “Big D.” This was another lot to attract local retail interest, as well as a handful of phone bidders, with it selling to the phones at $5,100. A Dunbar dining table was another lot to do well, hammering down at $3,900.
A nice pair of Barcelona chairs sold at $2,160; an Aldo Tura tea cart covered in green dyed goat skin, $1,080; and a fire screen, andirons and fire tools by Donald Deskey realized $1,320.
Several Rufino Tamayo lithographs were sold, with a black and white litho titled “Man at the Door” selling at $2,520, “Femme au Collart Rose” bringing $1,560 and “Carnavalesque,” $1,680. Other artworks included a Continental grouping of 12 miniature portraits of painters and writers in an octagonal frame that sold for $2,400, and an oil of a nude by Jacques Koslowsky brought $720.
Classical smalls included a Swedish orrery by L. Berg, circa 1868, that sold for $2,160, while a Japy Freres garniture clock set brought $1,080.
A nice pair of Art Deco brass and glass wall sconces were a good buy at $360, a Russian silver figural ink blotter went for $960, and a small iridescent footed bowl by Tiffany brought $480.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
The next sale at Westport Auction, 615 Riverside Avenue, will be June 23, featuring Art Deco, classical antiques and a good selection of midcentury furniture and accessories.
For more information, www.westportauction.com or 203-222-3448.