Value of pieces after a master dies.


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As most here know, I am a big Sam Maloof fan.  And most of you know that Sam passed away back in 2009.  At the time of his death, his iconic chairs were selling for $38,000 for the tiger maple rockers.  I do not know what they sell for now, but I heard they are around the $20,000 area now depending on what wood species they are made in.

I know Mike Johnson along with his son Stephen are continuing the business and have purchased the Maloof woodworking part of the business, with Mike's wife Joanne running the office part, so it's all be kept within the Johnson family now.

It's obvious that Mike cannot command the same prices that Sam was able to get for his pieces.  My question is, on the new pieces that are made solely by Mike and His son, can they  ever increase in value over time, or will the only be worth what they are sold for since Mike does not have Sam's name or fame.  Basically the new pieces will only be worth as much as they are sold for and that's as far as they go, even way down the road since they do not have the signature that Sam added to his pieces?

 

I've often wondered if the value of the newly created pieces made by their helpers diminishes after the original master passes away or can they also increase in value over time?

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The only way that i could see that changing is if Mike started a line of his own and created his own fame and demanded the same respect that Sam did.

Nakashima is one interesting situation where George passed the business to his daughter, Mira, and she seems to be venturing off on her own adaptations that may be valuable in their own right. Does that get a little bit more complicated because it's his daughter and the business is still in the family?

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47 minutes ago, Chestnut said:

The only way that i could see that changing is if Mike started a line of his own and created his own fame and demanded the same respect that Sam did.

Nakashima is one interesting situation where George passed the business to his daughter, Mira, and she seems to be venturing off on her own adaptations that may be valuable in their own right. Does that get a little bit more complicated because it's his daughter and the business is still in the family?

Well.. I get e mails and such about live edge shelving and spice holders and charcuterie boards coming out of the shop..I highly doubt thats going to make a name for himself..

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37 minutes ago, Randall Child said:

Well.. I get e mails and such about live edge shelving and spice holders and charcuterie boards coming out of the shop..I highly doubt thats going to make a name for himself..

That is too far afield of the nature of the objects created by the master. I am not sure what it might take to be similar but not cloning. 

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4 hours ago, Bmac said:

I think Mike's is in a tough spot, but also a spot that has some positives. He still has the name and the "client base" given to him by Sam, but at the same time he's not Sam. I think just doing Sam's designs means he'll never command the prices or the amount of business Sam got. But if he builds off the brand with new and interesting pieces, he might have more success. 

Randall, does Mike do any new designs that you know of?

Sam has big shoes to fill, sort of like becoming the new SS for Baltimore after Ripken retired.

Well.. all I see is him doing Sam's designs.  I have not seen anything other than.. They started selling Maloof "baseball caps and money holders as well as Charcuterie boards and spice holders, but nothing of the furniture.  Personally, I feel selling those types of items "cheapens" the Maloof name in a way.. just my 0.02

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14 minutes ago, Randall Child said:

well.. the chairs I have made sold for very good amounts, while although not nearly what Sam made, I was very satisfied for what I got for them

I would not expect those pieces to sell for anything less than a big wad of cash. People will pay for that kind of quality. It's not like a common table or dresser.

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58 minutes ago, drzaius said:

I would not expect those pieces to sell for anything less than a big wad of cash. People will pay for that kind of quality. It's not like a common table or dresser.

the biggest obstacle is finding those who are willing to pay for your talent and effort that you put into making of these pieces. 

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11 minutes ago, Randall Child said:

the biggest obstacle is finding those who are willing to pay for your talent and effort that you put into making of these pieces. 

I think it’s that way with any good quality woodworking project vs IKEA or China stamped out crap. 

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Sam started in 1947 when the market was virtually new for handmade pieces. and he basically started at ground zero and made for pieces for him and his wife, where someone saw it and asked if he could do the same for them.. he built up and just played his card right and knew the right people. 

29 minutes ago, Coop said:

Mr. Maloof had his followers and rightfully so. He was a Woodworking artisan and turned out beautiful work. Pablo Picasso’s works demand big bucks and I don’t understand it. To each his own. The value is only what someone is willing to pay. 

exactly right..it's finding those willing to pay..that's the trick

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Not to take away from his talent, but I think his public persona had a lot to do with his popularity. I don't know what he was like in person, but in articles & documentaries he comes across as a kind, thoughtful, gentle soul. People saw his work, became interested in him, liked him, & then wanted his pieces even more. Self propagating popularity.

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19 hours ago, Chestnut said:

The only way that i could see that changing is if Mike started a line of his own and created his own fame and demanded the same respect that Sam did.

Nakashima is one interesting situation where George passed the business to his daughter, Mira, and she seems to be venturing off on her own adaptations that may be valuable in their own right. Does that get a little bit more complicated because it's his daughter and the business is still in the family?

One thing I know is after Sam passed away, the orders dropped off.. I actually have a good friends who placed an order for over $120,000 for several Maloof pieces and when Sam died, he inquired if there would be some sort of reduction in price since they would no longer be made or signed by Sam, and was told no..so he cancelled his order. I'm pretty sure that happened a lot. No name, not worth the high dollars.  Personally I felt this was a poor business decision on the Maloof woodworking part, reducing the cost some could have kept the sale and money coming in rather than making nothing on a $120,000 order

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3 minutes ago, drzaius said:

Not to take away from his talent, but I think his public persona had a lot to do with his popularity. I don't know what he was like in person, but in articles & documentaries he comes across as a kind, thoughtful, gentle soul. People saw his work, became interested in him, liked him, & then wanted his pieces even more. Self propagating popularity.

Oh for sure..I knew Sam and knew him well.  I once brought a tabletop I was working on and having some difficulty with getting all the parts to come together.  Sam stopped what he was doing and got down on the floor with me (literally) and helped me assemble the top. That was the Sam I knew. he was very personable and kind.  He was also a salesman too and a good one..

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 Believe I still have the magazine that had him in it, but I find myself often looking for things I think I have only to eventually remember my exwife got that 30 years ago..

 

Back then was buying This old House, Bob Villa and cabinet maker magazines and there all over the house stored

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Being an artist myself I can relate to how the value of work can vary greatly just based on an artists personality, their ability to smooze with the public, etc. It's why Ansel Adams struggled to make decent money and had to offer workshops until his death. But Peter Lik has galleries around the world and finds suckers to pay him $ 50,000 for one of his prints. Or Thomas Kinkade getting $5,000+ for a painting that was painted by one of his employee's, but it was his idea? WTF. I'd love to pay someone to create my art based on my concepts and and let me keep 80+% of the money. Sam Maloof was a wonderful person, artist, technician, businessman. He was also at the right place at the right time in history to make the most of his talents. I get to see the work of Philip Lowe, John Cameron, and several other furniture makers local to me, and it blows my mind that they also need to teach to survive.  

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