Is modern architecture the new art?

Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, California, sold on 13 May for $16.8m (est $15m-$25m) as one of the lots in Christie’s contemporary and modern auction, positioned between more familiar evening sale fare: a Richard Prince joke painting and a Damien Hirst butterfly canvas.

Architecturally-important houses are not new to auctions. In 1989 Philip Johnson’s townhouse in Manhattan—designed to be Blanchette Rockefeller’s guesthouse—was the first residence to be offered at a New York art sale, this time by Sotheby’s. Other properties which have come under the hammer include Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, located outside Chicago, in 2004. Nevertheless, just as modern design is creeping into major sales, there seems to be a growing trend for auction houses to classify modern architecture as fine art

Katharine Albritton

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