Sold! (or not)


Christie’s “Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale” is one of the premier events of the New York auction world. On Tuesday, May 13, 2008, the event – which is an art auction – included a house. Listed in the catalog between auction item 41, Shot Salesman, a painting by Richard Prince, and auction item 43, I’m in Love for the First Time, a painting by Damien Hirst, was auction item 42: the Kaufmann House. Christie’s estimated the house to sell for $15–25 million, and it sold to an unnamed buyer for $15million (or $16.8m with commission). UPDATE: The sale fell through. On May 23, the president of Christie’s said that “the contract has been terminated by the seller by reason of a breach of its terms by the buyer.”

Designed by Richard Neutra in 1945, this Palm Springs, California, house was originally the home of Edgar J. Kaufmann. In 1947, Julius Shulman photographed the house, and those widely reproduced images turned the house into a symbol of mid-century California living. After Kaufmann’s death in 1955, the house went vacant for a few years, before going through a handful of owners (including Barry Manilow) and several renovations. In 1993, Beth and Brent Harris purchased the house, which was then considered a teardown, for $1.9 million. The couple spent five years restoring the house to its original condition, using Shulman’s 1947 photographs and Neutra’s original sketches as their guides.

In the spring of 2007, we photographed the Design Within Reach catalog at The Kaufmann House, and earlier this year, we were back in the neighborhood to photograph our assortment at the Loewy House, which is next door. Click here to see an aerial view. (The Kaufmann House is on the north side of the street, to the left of where Mapquest puts the red star. The Loewy House is to the left of the Kaufmann.) As for the paintings by Prince and Hirst, those were each estimated to sell between $1–2 million. Results: $1,161,000 and $1,273,000 respectively. The evening’s top seller was a 1952 painting by Mark Rothko, at $50,441,000.