WHAT: A sleek, polyhedral rolling bar cart, unmarked but in the style of celebrated midcentury Italian designers, sold at Palm Beach Modern Auctions for $7,000 (including buyer premium) last month. The result, more than three times the high estimate, demonstrates that good design, well executed, is timeless.
Made of wood, brass, metal and vinyl, the cart rolls on three wheels and has multiple doors.
MORE: Probably made sometime in the 1950s or '60s, the style is much like that of husband-wife Italian designers Ico and Luisa Parisi, the avant-garde team that co-founded two architectural groups integrated with interior design. The iconic "egg" chair introduced in 1951 is a Parisi design.
Even without marks, the pared down yet highly functional cart combines the Parisi look of industrial make paired with handcrafted style.
SMART COLLECTORS KNOW: The sale catalog listed the cart as "in the manner of" the Parisis. That's auction-speak for: "We think it probably is by them, but we lack definitive documentation and/or provenance."
HOT TIP: Today's bidder at this level is sophisticated, with a practiced eye. Many access the same knowledge bases that auction houses use: The best know their material cold.
Serious lookers attended the sale preview, perhaps with an expert on modern design in tow, to inspect the lot before the sale. When you get into big bucks, you have to know what you're bidding on, or you must rely solely on expertise of the auction house. Always stick with a reliable, known auction. This is no level for amateurs.
BOTTOM LINE: Can you imagine a more midcentury, stylish bar cart? If we were a betting person, we'd wager that the cart will stay in the Miami area, where advanced design carries social cachet.