MADE by James A. Miller and Brother of Chicago to a design of c.1898, Frank Lloyd Wright’s 18in (45cm) high spherical copper urn worked with repoussé panels of interlocking geometric decoration, shown here, has become an icon of the American Arts & Crafts movement.
It is not clear how many were produced, but perhaps no more than
ten have survived with five of those in public collections.
A number have appeared on the market in recent memory. That made
for the Susan Lawrence Dana House, Springfield, Illinois, c.1903
sold at Christie's in 1998 for a premium-inclusive $288,500;
another took $468,000 at Sotheby's in 2004, while an example
offered by Christie's in late 2010 failed to sell with its estimate
set at $800,000-1.2m.
The one shown here, made for the Edward C. Waller house in River
Forest, Illinois c.1899, appeared at Leslie Hindman
Auctions of Chicago on October 2.
It had been purchased from New York dealers Barry Friedman and
Scott Elliot by Ralph Esmerian, the former owner of Fred Leighton
jewellers. Esmerian, a key collector of American folk art, Arts and
Crafts and Art Nouveau, was sentenced in July to six years in
prison for financial frauds totalling more than $210m.
His urn, with a good surface patina and the original liner
inscribed with the name of the property for which it was made, was
estimated at $400,000-600,000 and sold to a Florida private
collector at $650,000 (£442,000) - $772,000 including buyer's
More property from the Esmerian collection will be offered by
Hindman's in November and December.
By Roland Arkell