The year's largest international auction at Bruun Rasmussen ended this past Thursday after two weeks of intense bidding wars in Bredgade, Copenhagen. After the dust had settled, 12 million-kroner hammer prices and several world records had been achieved. As usual, the auction ended with modern design, where 23 six-figure sales were realised, which is quite exceptional.
"There is still a great international demand for design and decorative art from the 20th century. At this auction, there was great interest in an unusual freestanding desk from the 1960s by Ejner Larsen and Aksel Bender Madsen, which was sold for DKK 380,000 (€ 66,000 including buyer’s premium). Modern ceramics are also highly sought after at the moment, which we saw with the sale of a monumental floor vase by Axel Salto, which went for DKK 280,000 (€ 49,000 including buyer’s premium), and a very small bowl by Lucie Rie that was sold for DKK 70,000 (€ 12,000 including buyer’s premium) against an estimate of DKK 10,000 (€ 1,750 including buyer’s premium),” says Peter Kjelgaard, Head of the department of modern design and decorative art.
Rare Items up for Auction
The shared traits of the remarkable hammer prices at the design auction are the high quality and rarity of the items. The desk of Ejner Larsen and Aksel Bender Madsen was a rare variation of a similar, longer model with six drawers, which was presented at the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition at the Danish Museum of Decorative Art in 1953. The monumental floor vase by Axel Salto stood out due to its size and its incredibly beautiful Butterfly Wing glaze, just as the small bowl by Lucie Rie, also surprised because of its unique expression and delicate glaze. Rie is probably an unknown name to most in Denmark, but her ceramic works are highly sought after internationally.
Lucie Rie (1902-1995) came to England as a refugee in 1938 at the age of 36. Before this, she had studied with Michael Powolny in her native city of Vienna. She later became one of England's mostcherished ceramicists in the post-war era, and she is today known worldwide for her distinctive, yet never ostentatious, bowls and vases. Rie's design is generally characterized by being strong, spartan and simple, which has made her an exponent of modernist and innovative ceramic art.
Remarkable Design Hammer Prices
Ejner Larsen, Aksel Bender Madsen: Rare and unusual set consisting of an exceptional freestanding desk of solid Wengé and a "Metropolitan" armchair. Made in the early 1960s by cabinetmaker Willy Beck. Price realised: DKK 380,000 (€ 66,000 including buyer’s premium).
Axel Salto: Monumental stoneware floor vase modelled with "living stone" and decorated with Butterfly Wing glaze. The model was designed in 1946. Price realised: DKK 280,000. (€ 49,000 including buyer’s premium)
Henning Koppel: A pair of three-branch sterling silver candlesticks. Georg Jensen after 1977. Designed 1958. Price realised: DKK 200,000 (€ 35,000 including buyer’s premium).
Marcel Breuer: Exceptional set of six “Isokon” stacking chairs with moulded seat and back of birch plywood. Frame made of walnut veneer. Designed 1935. Produced between 1937-1939 at the Isokon Furniture Company, London. Price realised: DKK 170,000 (€ 30,000 including buyer’s premium).
Lucie Rie: Unique, small circular bowl of porcelain. Decorated with pale grey glaze with ochre elements. The upper edge with rim of bronze-coloured glaze. Made approx. 1980. Price realised: DKK 70,000 (€ 12,000 including buyer’s premium).
Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers is one of Scandinavia’s leading international auction houses, and one of Denmark’s oldest. It all started on 6 October 1948, when Arne Bruun Rasmussen conducted the first traditional auction in the saleroom at Bredgade 33 in Copenhagen. Today, Jesper Bruun Rasmussen stands at the helm of the family-run business together with the third generation of the family, his son Frederik and daughter Alexa, and the company’s CEO Jakob Dupont.
In 2004, the first online auction was launched, and today the auction house has expanded to include departments in Copenhagen and Aarhus and representations in Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Spain, Italy, Thailand and the US. About 100,000 lots are put up for auction each year at the traditional auctions and daily online auctions. Here you can bid on everything from art, antiques, modern design and jewellery to books, coins, stamps, wine and weaponry.