Blaze ignites new demand for work of design genius; Auction shock as two chairs sell for PS109k PRICES SOAR FOR RENNIE MACKINTOSH.
Byline: | Aimee Beveridge
Auction experts say the value of work by Charles Rennie Mackintosh may have been set soaring by the fire at Glasgow School of Art.
Sellers were "amazed" at the rocketing value of a set of chairs by the iconic architect, who designed the art school.
A pair of the set of six chairs sold for PS13,200 in March before the fire devastated the building in May. Just five months later, another pair of ebonised oak "ladder back chairs" went for PS36,050 at auction.
But the latest two from the set exceeded all expectations when they went for PS109,250 after going under the hammer at auction house Lyon & Turnbull.
John Mackie, head of decorative arts at Lyon and Turnbull, said: "There was a lot of interest in the two chairs at the last auction.
"Prices for Charles Rennie Mackintosh items go up and down a lot. But PS36,050 was the top price paid for those chairs in the past and they sold for PS109,250 at the last auction. We were amazed.
"It certainly suggests a trend upwards and I think the interest is well deserved. Mackintosh is a genius.
"It's difficult to say if the fire at the Glasgow School of Art has pushed prices up but certainly there's been a lot more interest in his work since the fire.
"It's focused people's attention on his work and, I think, has reinforced the notion that these things are irreplaceable and rare - that's possibly making the market stronger."
The chairs sold in October are two of six that have gone up for auction this year.
Mackie said: "There were 137 of these chairs made but a lot of them have been destroyed so there won't be many left.
"When Miss Cranston's shut in the 1920s, a lot of the chairs went into other tea rooms and customers bought the rest.
"But they were just seen as being useful at that time rather than important".
Sheila Proctor, business manager of the Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow, said business has been booming since the art school fire.
She said: "There's definitely been a big increase in interest in Mackintosh. A lot more people have been coming to the tea rooms because they want to see his work.
"The fire certainly raised the profile of his work. I think it has made people realise just how priceless his work is."
The majority of the damage in the fire was to the west wing of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh building, constructed between 1907 and 1909, which included the Mackintosh library.
The Mackintosh museum and room survived intact.
There's been a lot more interest in his work since the fire
SUPPORTNICOLA Sturgeon, top, visits the school earlier NICOLA Sturgeon, top, visits the school earlier this month to see damage to the library after fire, above