More than two decades ago, Chicago-based auctioneer Richard Wright "stumbled" into the antique business when a college friend introduced him to selling vintage clothing. Richard says soon he gravitated toward home furnishings at thrift stores and flea markets, and he now owns and operates one of the top auction houses for modern and contemporary art, furniture and decorative objects in the world. Nate talks with Richard about his upstart auction house and his passion for 20th-century design.
Richard founded his auction house with his late wife, Julie Thoma Wright, in 2000, and they quickly established their business as one of the best in the industry. While Richard Wright Auctions is renowned for 20th-century decorative arts, Richard says the best interiors should have pieces that span various centuries. "I think people should mix antiques, contemporary, classic, modern," he says. "It all goes together, and a lot of times the best of any era works with the best [of other eras]."
When it comes to Richard's personal taste, he says he favors the "pure, timeless design of Charles Eames," the "over-the-top" aesthetic of Carlo Mollino and the "luxurious," perfectly proportioned designs of Samuel Marx. The best part of the auction business is that you never know what'll turn up next, Richard says. "Every day when you walk in, you don't know what's going to walk in to your auction house—and that's the wonderful part," he says.
Published on May 29, 2008