Peter Loughrey On His Collection of Art & Design, and the Future of Online Auctions

Rebecca Bronfein Raphael
Feb 2, 2015 12:00AM

Peter Loughrey, avid art and design collector and founder of Los Angeles Modern Auctions, shares how he got his start in collecting; a few cherished favorites from his collection, including an Eames chair and ceramics by Picasso; and his insights about the future of auctions in our digital age.

Rebecca Bronfein Raphael: When did you start collecting art and design, and what was the first piece you purchased?

Peter Loughrey: I started collecting art and design in the late 1980s and early ’90s, first with Frank Gehry furniture that I bought from the original owner, who inspired me to keep furniture for myself and use it in my own home. One piece of furniture I have always had—in every apartment and every house—is an Eames leather lounge chair and ottoman. To me the chair represents the ultimate in leisure and relaxation. As for art, I started collecting Picasso ceramics in the early ’90s and since then I have had a fascination with his work, especially his etchings and linocuts. 

RBR: Why did you endeavor to build an auction house that specializes in 20th-century art and design?

PL: I grew up in a house full of both 18th-century fine art and furniture, so I developed an appreciation for how these two disciplines interact. I started L.A. Modern Auctions (LAMA) in 1992 because I felt it was important to show modern art and design in context together. 

RBR: How are art auctions changing as they enter the online space? How is LAMA embracing new technology?

PL: Since its inception LAMA has been a champion of new technology. In our first auction in 1992 we produced a videocassette to accompany our catalogue; we encouraged bidding by fax; and our print catalogues were among the first in the industry to be printed digitally direct to plate. Today some of these technologies are outdated, however it shows our continued commitment to increasing both the efficiency of the auction business and the ease with which customers collect, by any new methods.

So, what’s next? I believe the future of the auction business lies firmly with mobile computing. One day soon, most bidders will be able to simply use their smartphone or tablet to bid and buy at auction much the same way we now use these devices to hail a cab or buy music. Raising a paddle in the air will go the way of raising your hand to hail a cab. Walking into an art gallery will be remembered, (perhaps cherished), like walking into a record store. Now, for example with Artsy, bidders can “raise their paddle” with a click at any time, any place.

RBR: I love to learn about an artwork’s past lives. What can you tell us about any of these pieces that goes beyond what we can see and what we can learn by reading about its provenance?

PL: Derek Boshier, a well-regarded pop artist in his own right, is selling the Lichtenstein print Foot and Hand (1964) in the upcoming Modern Art & Design Auction on March 1. Boshier recounts that when he was visiting New York in 1964 he met Lichtenstein at Richard L. Feigen & Co. Gallery. Lichtenstein had just come from the printer with a number of lithographs under his arm and said, “Derek, I want you to have one of my new prints.” Lichtenstein not only gave him one, but also personally inscribed it. This work represents the artistic exchange of one pop artist to another.

Explore the lots. Online bidding closes on Sunday, March 1 at 3PM PT.

Rebecca Bronfein Raphael