Wright, the Chicago auction house that specializes in 20th century design, will partner with the Los Angeles design atelier Blackman Cruz to sell nearly 250 items including industrial, primitive and rustic curiosities such as chairs from Al Capone’s Wisconsin hideout, Continental antiques, midcentury modernist designs from around the world and a 1952 unique mosaic mural that once hung in the old Statler hotel (later the Wilshire Grand).
An exhibition for the auction was unveiled last Thursday at the 836 Highland Avenue HQ of Blackman Cruz and has already been viewed by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, fashion designer Henry Duarte, producer Joel Silver, photographer Tim Street-Porter and dozens of L.A.’s top interior designers. The display — which also includes rare editions of macabre-yet-elegant designs from the Blackman Cruz Workshop home furnishings line such as a pair of 1995 skull lamps newly plated in 24-karat gold, expected to fetch $5,000-$7,000 — runs until the Wright sale on April 21.
For the Record
April 15, 10:00 p.m.: A previous version of this article said the Statler hotel was now the Beverly Wilshire. The Statler became the now-demolished Wilshire Grand. It also gave the name of a designer as Francisco Artigo. His last name was Artigas.
“I have always respected Blackman Cruz’s eye and theatrical presentation,” says Richard Wright, the owner of Wright. “Their ability to combine and use dark and gothic elements of high quality in a way that feels modern defined the Los Angeles look for me.” This auction is the first time Wright is creating a special sale for a retailer, instead of working with an estate.
“Usually, we only do this for collectors and people who are dead,” Wright says.
Adam Blackman, who co-founded Blackman Cruz 22 years ago, admits the sale might alarm loyal customers. “We’re not dead,” he says with a laugh, “and we are not going out of business or clearing out old inventory. In fact, we went shopping for a year and took things out of our own homes like my collection of antique barbells, dog collars, mug shots and drawings that Diego Giacometti did on the back of receipts.” The sale also includes Blackman Cruz design director Lika Moore’s 2014 Leonine consoles, travertine tables with single bronze lion legs textured with the blasts of a 12-gauge shotgun.
Blackman, who created a pair of bronze Blackman Cruz Record tables that look like a stack of vinyl discs, traveled to Italy twice, picking up fine antiques including 18th century mermaid pedestals. Co-owner David Cruz, who designed bronze Hand sconces and a gilt Crown of Thorns Mirror, scoured Mexico for folk crafts and midcentury furnishings by influential designers such as Pepe Mendoza, Arturo Pani, Francisco Artigas and sculptor Ernesto Tamariz.
“Mexican modernism is coming to the forefront,” says Blackman. “I know that three museums including LACMA and MoMA are planning exhibitions. It’s very cool, sexy, custom-made design.It’ll be interesting to see how well it does at auction.”