How a TikTok User’s Lucky Facebook Marketplace Find Netted in an Astonishing $85,000 at Sotheby’s
In the age of online marketplaces, one can stumble upon hidden treasures with just a few clicks. Such was the case for Justin Miller, a TikTok user, and home design content creator, who recently struck gold with a $50 purchase on Facebook Marketplace. Little did he know that his seemingly ordinary find would turn out to be a valuable piece of furniture worth a staggering $85,000, reports My Modern Met.
Discovery of a lifetime—a rare, limited stock chair
Miller's eye for design led him to browse Facebook Marketplace regularly in search of interesting items. In February 2023, a rundown leather chair caught his attention. The family in Beverly Hills was selling it for a mere $50 and Miller decided to seize the opportunity. However, it was a passing remark from the seller that sparked his curiosity. “As I was messaging the seller to arrange a time to pick up the chair, she (the original chair owner) said something along the lines of ‘If you repair the chair, it’s worth a lot,'” shared Miller.
Intrigued, Miller decided to delve deeper into the origins and potential value of his purchase. A quick online search revealed that he had stumbled upon a rare high-back wing chair crafted by renowned Danish furniture designer Frits Henningsen. The chair, dating back to approximately 1935, was one of only 50 ever made.
Taking to TikTok
Eager to share his exciting find with the world, Miller took to TikTok to showcase his discovery. The response was overwhelming, with viewers urging him to reach out to the prestigious auction house Sotheby's. Recognizing the chair's exceptional value, Miller heeded their advice and contacted Sotheby's to explore the possibility of selling his newfound treasure.
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Sotheby's interest in the chair and its restoration
Sotheby's, captivated by the chair's rarity and historical significance, expressed a keen interest in including it in their Important Design auction. The auction house was willing to restore the chair to its former glory and prepare it for the auction block. Excited about the opportunity, Miller promptly shipped the chair to New York and eagerly awaited the day it would go under the hammer.
A thrilling auction
The anticipation finally came to an end in early June when the chair was part of Sotheby's highly anticipated Important Design auction. As the bidding commenced, a frenzied competition ensued, surpassing the chair's initial estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. In a matter of three minutes, Miller's $50 purchase reached a jaw-dropping final price of $85,000, amounting to $107,950 after accounting for buyer's fees. The chair's careful restoration had a significant role to play in the successful auction.
Overwhelmed with emotion, Miller couldn't help but shed tears of joy as he broadcasted the climactic moment on TikTok. The record-breaking sale delighted both Miller and Sotheby's, solidifying the chair's legacy as a valuable piece by Frits Henningsen.
A rewarding experience
Carina Villinger, head of 20th Century Design at Sotheby's, expressed her delight at the chair's outstanding result. The record-breaking price achieved by Miller's discovery attested to the chair's importance and the interest it garnered among collectors and design enthusiasts alike. The remarkable outcome reaffirmed Miller's decision to explore the world of online thrifting further.
The same model and color of chair sold at Sotheby's in London for £44,450 or about $72K in October 2009, per Altan Insights. A $107,950 result almost 15 years later shows a 3% annual rate of appreciation which is not particularly incredible but considering the nature of the product (this category of chairs), it's not a pittance.
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Putting the profits to good use
Following the sale, Miller decided to put his newfound fortune to good use. While he treated himself to a small purchase, he primarily prioritized financial responsibility. The majority of the proceeds were allocated to savings, intended for a future down payment on a home. Miller's prudent decision showcased his thoughtful approach to managing the unexpected windfall.
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