NEW YORK -- Furniture and drawings by Frank Lloyd Wright will be returned to their Wright-designed Illinois home, thanks to successful bidding by the state's governor.
Bidders at Christie's packed auction room Saturday, knowing why Gov. Jim Thompson was there, essentially stepped aside and let him have the five items -- most for well below their presale estimates.
Thompson, an avid antiques collector, had raised more than $600,000 in donations to help return the pieces to the Dana-Thomas house, a museum in Springfield, the state capital. The lamp, music cabinet and three architectural renderings were designed by Wright for the house, which he built in 1903.
The Republican governor, who looked ecstatic, spent $330,000, including a 10 percent premium. Before the sale, he had worried that $600,000 would not be enough.
"He seemed extremely pleased," said Lily Zimmerman, a spokeswoman for Christie's. "He thanked his contributors and said he had a lot of money left over."
He didn't say what would be done with the extra money.
Thompson bought a leaded-glass and bronze table lamp for $132,000; a leaded-glass and oak music stand for $77,000; a pencil, ink and wash drawing of the house for $77,000; and two drawings of the house's interior for $22,000 each.
The lamp had been expected to fetch as much as $180,000 and the drawings up to $90,000 each, the auction house said. The music stand had a presale estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.
Experts describe the Dana-Thomas museum as one of the finest examples of the architect's Prairie School houses open to the public. The house, commissioned by Susan Lawrence Dana and now maintained by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, is one of the most completely furnished of all Wright's buildings. The state bought it for $1 million in 1981 from the Charles Thomas Publishing Co.
The rest of the sale was dominated by another famous midwesterner, Detroit Tigers and Domino's Pizza owner Thomas Monaghan.
Monaghan, a major Wright collector who is creating a Wright museum in Ann Arbor, Mich., bought 23 lots of Wright items for $431,640.