Auction catalogs are often filled with many colorful superlatives like " rare" "spectacular" "pre-production" or "prototype" in order to entice bidders to reach deeper in to there pockets to "secure" (another annoying auction term) that prized piece of "property". But to me, no term carries as much weight as "ONLY KNOWN EXAMPLE".
The mystery of the OKE gets me every time. It makes me think of teams of auction house interns pouring over catalogs and reference books, calling up the experts, getting a seal of approval from the museums. I've only had a true OKE once and Ill admit I will brag about it to anyone that wants to listen but recently 2 different friends of mine turned up OKE's at the exact same time and both are going up for auction in the coming weeks.
This is the stuff I literally have dreams about. I will be in the basement of some rural Michigan thrift shop, digging through the crap and then some weird moulded plywood chair will appear, it sort of looks like eames but not a chair that has ever been seen before. I do the mandatory flip over and sure enough written in grease pencil "this is my rarest, coolest, earliest, chair, I made only 1, Charles Eames, 1944". And then I wake up. This type of thing may have happened to Mark McDonald in 1983 but it dose not happen anymore.
Be that as it may, a Noguchi bowl and a Bertoia coffee table are appearing at Wright20 and Sotheby's this month that truly are "ONLY KNOWN EXAMPLES!!!" Both these pieces have now been found pictured within some obscure Knoll reference material and there is a picture of the bowl in one Noguchi book. But this is the first time either one of these designs has seen the light of day ( and by that i mean offered for sale at auction.)
Personally I prefer that table but both pieces would be amazing to own. Who knew Bertoia did a coffee table for Knoll... crazy. The table was found, I think somewhere in Germany and the bowl was found in an ancient Mayan temple where its current owner had to dodge poison arrows, booby trapped rock walls and a giant rolling boulder in order to "secure" it. But thankfully it is now safe on its pedestal at Wright20 awaiting that big day when it will then come home to sit on my new Bertoia coffee table I plan on also buying at Sotheby's. Above are pictures of the objects in question as well a couple other OKEs or almost OKEs