While shoppers on Britain’s High Streets are bemoaning the lack of a decent January sale in the wake of too many pre-Christmas deals, buyers at Woolley and Wallis’s first sale of the New Year had no such complaints.
With over 700 lots of furniture, clocks, treen and other works of art on offer, bidders were keen to kick-start 2019 with some exciting buys and they certainly put their money where it counted. A busy saleroom fought hard against bidders on the telephone and the internet, resulting in a sale total of £801,562 (including buyer’s premium), and a sell rate of 86% - results that fly in the face of oft-repeated claims that the furniture market is a moribund one.
Contributing in no small part to the sale were 165 lots from the collection of Sir Jeremy Lever QC, which put over £315,000* towards the final total. The collection included one of the sale’s top lots, a pair of Grand Tour white marble caryatid figures (lot 396) that stood nearly a metre high and sold on the telephone to a UK buyer for £22,500*. Also featured was a marble specimen low table that had previously graced several of the homes of the late Hollywood actor, Dirk Bogarde (lot 382). That sold to a Continental buyer for £17,500*.
The top lot of the sale was another rare table, from an American private collection; this time an Italian scagliola table top by Don Pietro Belloni (lot 376). It was dated 1754 and related to a very similar table currently in the collection at Uppark House in West Sussex. That also sold on the telephone to an overseas buyer for £25,000*.
Head of Furniture, Mark Yuan-Richards, was delighted with what ranks as his department’s most successful sale ever: “Against all trends and expectations, the early January sale has always been a strong one for us, but this was quite remarkable. While it is true that some areas of the furniture market are not performing in the way that they were, I think auctions like this one prove that if you can source the right objects and pitch them at the right estimate then people are still very keen to buy.”
* All prices include buyer's premium at 25%.