A peek inside this weekend's 17th annual Los Angeles Antiques Art + Design Show, which runs through Sunday, should be enough to convince anyone that there really is such a thing as the 1 percent, because those of us covering the opening-night party at Santa Monica's Barker Hangar clearly weren't among the so-called elite. Luckily, it benefited LACMA's Decorative Arts and Design Council, so it was a little easier to overlook the ridiculously astronomical sums on most of the items, especially considering this is in fact what the LACMA council is all about: the appreciation of good design, which doesn't always come at a low price.
Likewise, even on (dare we say it?) eBay, the word “antique” almost always means “pricey,” so it should come as no surprise that the fair is organized by the Antiques Dealers Association of California. With museum-quality items, it's usually acceptable for price tags to reflect five-figure sums, and these dealers obviously need to make a living. But no one should have to pay vastly inflated amounts for items that are meant to furnish and decorate such a personal and sacred space as the home. Yes, good design isn't always cheap, but a sofa shouldn't cost $22,000, either. It just shouldn't.
With this in mind, here are a few things we'd buy if we had a limitless budget, a massive amount of storage space and if we weren't actually part of the 99 percent.
10. This is the $22,000 sofa. It's actually a three-piece Paul Laszlo Sectional from 1948, so it's technically around $7400 per piece (even though it's all sold together). It looks extra-long, so maybe it's actually worth the price, kind of like when you pay a little more for the combo meal at In-N-Out. Actually, never mind — there's no way to justify the asking amount of this furniture, even if it is super-cool.
9. This set of three late-19th century “graduated sized cloth haberdashery display figures” comes in “as-found” condition. Meanwhile, the wood sign is from around the same period and reads “We Do Not Lend,” but if we're gonna come up with $1395 for the sign or nearly $7000 for the dolls, someone's going to have to lend it to us.
8. We admired these gorgeous little snuff boxes until we told the man behind the counter that we were there to cover the show. For some reason, this made him suddenly clam up, then not-so-discretely close the glass display case he was in the process of opening. Too bad — we might have actually been able to afford one of these. We'd rather watch Berry & Fulcher's Snuff Box anyway.
7. We liked this statuette by Nathanial Choate because he kind of looks as naked and scared as we felt.
6. Evidently, the artist who made the piece in the center also made work that was collected by old-Hollywood figures such as Edward G. Robinson, Irene Dunne and Artur Rubinstein. “Un Moment de Reflection” is an original oil on canvas with “old-quality gilt frame with label” by Gabriel Dauchot (1927-2005), who was reportedly influenced by Chaim Soutine. The $10,500 handwritten price tag actually seemed reasonable enough at the time, especially within the context of the show. Or maybe we were just losing it.
5. We might actually pay for some of this stuff from L.A.'s own Voila! Art for the Modern Eye, because it's something no one has ever seen before and it all looks fairly labor-intensive. Unfortunately, we were too afraid to ask for prices.
4. These are examples of something called “whimsey bottles,” cousins to the old ship-in-a-bottle motif. The Ames Gallery says they were created “mostly by those in isolated or confined situations,” so the artists probably won't ever get a cut of the asking price, whatever it is. (We were afraid to ask… again.)
3. Speaking of isolated and confined conditions, we wanted to hide in this gorgeous indoor fort made from pristine rugs in pop/psychedelic patterns from San Francisco-based Tony Kitz Gallery.
2. This is a pair of signed Pedro Friedeberg “gilt silver leaf and walnut hand foot chairs” with original finish from the Gallery of the Princess Hotel in Acapulco, circa 1963. They're very cool, but not exactly $48,000 worth of cool. We'd rather use the money to pay off debts and drive a nice car.
1. This young woman seems to be asking, “Where's my cut?” We're right there with you, lady.