Sotheby’s Sets Record Result for Any Online Sale of 20th Century Design

Recently in New York, Sotheby’s March auction of Design concluded with an outstanding total of $4 million – marking the highest-ever result for an online sale of 20th Century Design.

Previously scheduled to be conducted as a live auction, this result demonstrates the continued strength of Sotheby’s online auction program across their business. Their dedicated online sales have achieved $36 million to-date in 2020 – more than double the same period in 2019.

Jodi Pollack, Co-Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s 20th Century Design Department, commented: “The remarkable success of our mid-season Design auction demonstrates the strong demand we continue to see from collectors worldwide for works across the full spectrum of the Design markets. Our record total also reinforces the confidence and shift we are seeing towards bidding and buying online. We were thrilled to meet the needs of both our buyers and sellers at this very challenging time by successfully executing an online sale strategy, and we are so very grateful to all of our clients for their strong support and making this sale a benchmark market event. This result is an important indicator of the Design market’s momentum and growth at a much needed time.”


  • The Design auction totalled $4 million – more than $1 million over its high estimate of $2.9 million – with a strong sell-through rate of 82.2% by lot.
  • Nearly half of all lots offered sold for prices above their high estimates.
  • Six works sold for more than $100,000.
  • Hundreds of bidders competed from 31 countries, with the highest level of competition from the United States, United Kingdom, France and Hong Kong.
  • One-third of all bids were placed on mobile devices.


  • A selection of works by Harry Bertoia were led by his Untitled (Sonambient) circa 1970 that fetched $300,000 – six times its high estimate of $50,000.
  • Best Performance Against Estimate: a “Moorish” Twisted Wire Chandelier created by Tiffany Studios circa 1895, on offer from the collection of pioneering video game executive Ryan Brant, sold for $300,000 – a remarkable 20 times its high estimate of $15,000.
  • A collection of windows designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for celebrated residential commissions in Illinois and Minnesota performed exceptionally well, with all six examples on offer selling for a combined $487,500 – nearly seven times their high estimate of $72,000.
  • Most Competition: 10 bidders competed for a Pair of “Direction” Armchairs, Model No. 352 by Jean Prouvé, driving it to sell for $175,000 – multiples of their $30,000 high estimate.


Since launching in 2016, online sales have been a growing segment of Sotheby’s sales program. They have successfully held 129 dedicated online sales in 2019, spanning all manner of fine art and luxury objects. Their dedicated online sales in 2020 have been especially robust, having achieved $36 million to-date and climbing daily.


Sotheby’s has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744. Sotheby’s became the first international auction house when it expanded from London to New York (1955), the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong (1973), India (1992) and France (2001), and the first international fine art auction house in China (2012). Today, Sotheby’s has a global network of 80 offices in 40 countries and presents auctions in 10 different salesrooms, including New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris. Sotheby’s offers collectors the resources of Sotheby’s Financial Services, the world’s only full-service art financing company, as well as the collection, artist, estate & foundation advisory services of its subsidiary, Art Agency, Partners. Sotheby’s also presents private sale opportunities in more than 70 categories, including S|2, the gallery arm of Sotheby's Global Fine Art Division, and three retail businesses: Sotheby’s Wine, Sotheby’s Diamonds, and Sotheby’s Home, the online marketplace for interior design.