Is there a market for eclectic collectibles in Los Angeles? Andrew Jones of Andrew Jones Auctions has carved out a niche in selling a variety of antiques at an affordable price point. Formerly the Director of furniture and decorative arts for Bonhams in North America, Jones, and several colleagues established the new auction house one year ago. Pursuitist popped by for a chat and to check out some of the offerings in a sale scheduled for June 16.
Jones, a charming Englishman who has been involved in the furniture world since the 1970s and is celebrating his 40th year in the industry, believes that both the new and experienced buyers are looking for a reason to enjoy auctions again. He’s attracted audiences of over 100 people at a time when most of the auctions are conducted via phone and laptop. Most Andrew Jones Auctions are also conducted on online platforms such as LiveAuctioneers and Invaluable, although the company does host one sale a year that is in-person only.
For Jones, the sale of antiques is more profound than the price released when the gavel slams down. “The fact that a chair is only worth $300 now but was worth $3,000 15 years ago doesn’t really matter; the fact is that it’s an 18th-century chair with a lot of history. Educating the younger generation about that sort of thing is really important to us,” says Jones.
In an age where Ikea reigns supreme and the current craze is for midcentury modern, is there still room for brown furniture? “Brown is the new black,” quips Jones before going on to explain that while prices have gone down a lot of decorators are understanding the ways that different periods can be mixed for an overall effect. One of the reasons that large wooden armoires have fallen out of fashion is that they are no longer used as television cabinets. As Jones pointed out, these pieces are sustainable, they’ve been here for hundreds of years and may have hundreds of use left in them.
The sales are eclectic which is part of the charm. The upcoming sale ranges from vintage slot machines and a PacMan pinball machine to 19th-century tables and a pair of columns that once graced a Masonic hall. Jones has sold everything from Greek antiquities to contemporary art.
One factor on the value of antiques is that as older generations disappear, the next generations are less interested in collecting. This has led to a drop in prices. This has led to some tough conversations with clients. In the past, clients would receive more value for their items. Some clients opt to hold onto their items and then still end up selling. Jones has been in Los Angeles around 19 years and noted that many of the antique stores have disappeared as interest waned.
However, in a downturn, there is always opportunity. One of the reasons that Jones keeps his auction house stocked with a variety of eras and categories is to appeal to a buyer who may be lured in by one type of item such as a piece of furniture or a painting and then decide to pick up a rug as well. The Los Angeles market is also more sophisticated than the rest of the world gives it credit for. He mentioned that a set of books sold for over $200,000 to a local collector: “Don’t rule L.A. out as being a glitzy place just for fun and frolic, there are some serious collectors here.”
While Andrew Jones Auctions doesn’t see a lot of celebrity auctions, they have sold off pieces from some notable people including Peter Falk. Jones notes that the celebrity factor is more important when it comes to memorabilia. Celebrity also has a shifting value as tastes change.
For younger collectors, Jones advises going to museums to learn more as well as, of course, attending auctions. “One of the beautiful things about auctions, is that you can really look at something. You can flip it upside down and getter a better feel for it and educate yourself.”
Buy what you love and you will never go wrong. For more information on the coming sale, check out their sales online.
Deidre Woollard served as the lead editor on Luxist.com for six years writing about real estate, auctions, jewelry and luxury goods. Her love for luxury real estate led her to work at realtor.com and two of the top real estate brokerages in Los Angeles as well as doing publicity for properties around the world.