Sunday - 23 November 2014

Lloyd Wright’s iconic urn sells for $650,000 in Chicago

10 October 2011Written by ATG Reporter

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 premium.

More property from the Esmerian collection will be offered by Hindman's in November and December.

By Roland Arkell

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