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Los Angeles Modern Auctions sets record with Asawa, Nakashima works

By Lisa Boone

7:21 PM EST, February 25, 2014

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Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA), which sold 86% of the nearly 400 lots offered in its Sunday sale, reported the highest total in its 22-year history Monday, realizing $5.12 million in sales, including commissions.

The surprise of the show was the sale of the intricate multi-lobed wire hanging sculpture "Untitled S. 437" by Ruth Asawa, shown above, which was expected to fetch between $300,000 and $400,000. The sculpture set a new LAMA record for a single work, going for $1.43 million and tying the world auction record for the sculptor who died last year.

"It was a surprise in that last year there were some new price points for Asawa's work," said Peter Loughrey, director of LAMA. “Sometimes when an artist's work takes off and sells for a higher-than-normal price, the market doesn't always sustain that new level. So it was nice to estimate this piece at a point where we left it up to the market to reconfirm the new price level."

Handcrafted furnishings were also a hot seller. A selection of 60 designs by woodworker George Nakashima, expected to sell for $372,800, totaled $469,875.

Other top lots in the art and design auction reported Monday include a dining table and chairs by Sam Maloof from 1968-69, estimated to sell between $50,000 and $70,000, went for $81,250. A set of 12 Conoid chairs in walnut and hickory by Nakashima, estimated at $60,000 to $80,000, realized $68,750. A hanging walnut wall case by Nakashima from 1963 sold for $65,625, nearly twice what was expected. And in a nod to the enduring passion for handcrafted woodwork, Sam Maloof's rosewood and ebony rocking chair from 1982, estimated at $30,000 to $50,000, sold for $61,250.

If you missed out on the auction, it's not too late. Four dozen unsold lots are currently posted online with a fixed price. Furnishings by Alvar Aalto, Hans Wegner, George Nelson and Evelyn Ackerman, among others, will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis and include the buyer's premium -- a 25% commission to the auction house paid on top of the winning bid.

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