Trade ambivalent about dealer’s exhibition

Statistically, dealer Paul Reeves’s selling exhibition fared slightly better than its accompanying Sotheby’s auction, with 60% of the 134 pieces selling during the show and another 10% afterwards. The spotlight fell on a pair of vases by Edward William Godwin (1833-1886), decorated in scraffito with Japanese-style bird motifs (one illustrated right). Made in 1877, they were unique and went to the V&A museum for £112,500 ($222,750).

The move by Sotheby’s to generate a curated sale in exchange for a selling exhibition has provoked mixed reactions in the trade. Dealers supported Paul Reeves’s decision to work with the auctioneers as “too good to miss”, but were ambivalent about Sotheby’s role. “Paul worked extremely hard to make the auction happen,” said the Fine Art Society’s Max Donnelly. “It’s good for us that it has brought glamour to British design, but it blurs the boundaries and takes ground from dealers.”

Former Sotheby’s auctioneer and dealer Christopher Wood said: “It was a remarkable assemblage of British design but I’m not in favour of half-auction, half-exhibition—it’s confusing. There was too much for what is still a very small, underappreciated market” V.L.

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