Design Maven

Sothebys Jodi Pollack

As the Head of Sotheby’s 20th Century Design department, Jodi Pollack deals in everything from Arts and Crafts era Tiffany’s lamps and Modernist homes to pieces by contemporary designers like Lochan Upadhyay. Before the upcoming annual spring sale, Pollack shares ten personal highlights from her 15-year tenure.


Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe’s The Farnsworth House, 1945-1951. Sold: $7.5 million “Back in 2003, shortly after I had joined the Sotheby’s Design department, we had the exciting privilege to offer at auction the Farnsworth House, one of the most extraordinary architectural commissions by Mies Van der Rohe. I will never forget visiting the house down in Southern Illinois prior to the sale. The house is a jewel. While the scale of the structure is quite small, its strict adherence to minimal and rational design accounts for everything an individual may require in a living space.”


Louis Sognot and Charlotte Alix’s The Maharaja of Indore’s Bed from The Manik Bagh Palace, 1930-1932. Sold: $209,600 “One of the first auctions that I oversaw at Sotheby’s was the collection of the legendary music entrepreneur Seymour Stein. Seymour has a tremendous eye and we curated a sale to show the many dimensions of his collecting legacy. One of the most exciting offerings was a unique bed commissioned for the Maharaga of Indore’s Bedroom in the Manik Bagh Palace, a superb example of 1930s modernist design.”


Frank Lloyd Wright’s Urn, ca 1900. Sold: $478,400 In 2004 we held a special thematic sale entitled “American Renaissance” that celebrated the greatest artistic achievements of American Prewar Design. It was this auction that cemented my interest and passion in Arts & Crafts and Tiffany. Among the offerings was one of the greatest objects I have ever sold—a magnificent hand-wrought copper urn by Frank Lloyd Wright.


Walter Dorwin Teague’s “Nocturne” Radio, Model no. 1186. Sold: $114,000 “When I was in high school I was exposed to industrial design and immediately knew that I wanted to form a collection. Among my many heroes was the legendary industrial designer, Walter Dorwin Teague. I always coveted his iconic “Nocturne” Radio, and it was such a milestone later in my career when I was entrusted to sell an example. I love the pure geometry of the design, and the immense scale of the floor model is so bold and over the top.”


Marc Newson’s Prototype Lockheed Lounge, 1985. Sold: $968,000 “In 2006, our team was entrusted to sell Marc Newson’s Lockheed Lounge, which is arguably one of the greatest icons of contemporary design. This was one of the earliest offerings for a Lockheed ever to appear on the auction market. I remember how exhilarating it was to stand in front of this incredible object, admiring its sensuous gleaming contours as they changed from every viewing angle.”


Greene & Greene’s Armchair from the Living Room of the Robert R. Blacker House, Pasadena, California, ca 1908. Sold: $913,600 “My love affair with Greene & Greene began in 2004, when we sold one of the largest bodies of work by the California architects. Of all of their architectural commissions, I most admire their furniture designs for the Robert R. Blacker House. The Blacker House Living Room Armchair is one of the most powerful and exquisite works that I have encountered, exhibiting all of the hallmarks that define the Greenes’ design ideology: symmetrical linear geometry, masterful joinery and sculptural presence.”


George Nakashima’s “Arlyn” Table, 1988. Sold: $822,400 “In 2006 we had the great privilege of selling the collection of Dr. Arthur & Evelyn Krosnick, which represented the most extensive and historically important collection of furniture by George Nakashima ever to appear on the market. One of great masterworks in this group was the legendary “Arlyn” Table, its name derived from a combination of both Arthur and Evelyn’s names. The table is a tour-de-force, representing the most powerful and dynamic work ever created by the artist.”


Rembrandt Bugatti’s Babouin Sacré Hamadryas, executed circa 1910. Sold: $2,256,000 “Earlier on in my career I was introduced to the animalier sculpture of Rembrandt Bugatti. His sculpture had a profound impact on me. In 2006, we had the privilege of selling a Baboon on behalf of the Genesee Museum—and established a new world record at auction for the artist.”


Tiffany Studios “Wisteria” Table Lamp and “Wisteria” Table Lamp, both circa 1901-1905. Sold: $1,145,000 & $1,205,000 “Tiffany is one of my greatest passions, and last year we had a unique opportunity that will likely never again occur in the Tiffany marketplace. We had on offer two successively numbered Wisteria Lamps—the closest iteration of a pair that has ever emerged. We affectionately began referring to the lamps as the ‘Twins.’”


Archibald Knox’s “Cymric” Clock, Model no. 5054, 1901. Sold: $1,145,000 “Earlier this season Sotheby’s was entrusted to sell the Warshawsky Collection, one of the legendary connoisseur collections of Tiffany and Prewar Design ever to appear on the market. The collection was assembled in the 1960s and 1970s, a time when there was access to works of exceptional quality and rarity. The Warshawskys were particularly fond of silver designed by Archibald Knox for the famous London firm, Liberty & Co. One of my favorite objects in the collection was this divine Clock on feet, a true masterwork of design.”