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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

And he a crazy roundabout way

My son-in-law Joe is a great Craigslist shopper. He has a CL alert app on his phone, so he's notified as soon as new listings go up, and he frequently sends me links to his latest finds, asking what I know about the piece.

Yesterday he found an amazing Alvar Aalto Paimio armchair for $40. The seller told him that her late husband bought the chair from the MoMA store several years ago. I'm in the process of trying to track down when it was sold there and how much it cost at the time. The Paimio chair, which I featured in a post about Aalto just a few days ago, is still manufactured today by Artek, the company in Finland started in 1935 by Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahl.  It retails new for $3,750 from online stores like FinnStyle and YLiving. 1st Dibs has a 1980s model listed for $1550.

Here's the picture from the listing. Joe had a phone conversation with the seller last night, and he's going to pick up the chair tonight after work. Chalk up a major score for my wonderful SIL!

Alvar Aalto Paimio chair...a major Craigslist find!


UPDATE: My SIL called and rousted me out of bed this morning, and he was upset!  He awoke to an email from the seller of the Aalto chair, saying she had received an offer for $120 for the chair and was having a hard time turning it down, even though she had given him her word that she would delete the ad and sell only to him.

As soon as he got her email, he jumped into his car, screeched out of the driveway and headed her direction, calling her on the way to tell her he'd match the offer and calling me to vent. I finally heard back from him, and while he still wasn't thrilled that she reneged on their deal, things actually worked out fine. Rather than use the indignant buyer approach, he decided to turn on all the charm he could muster, which is considerable, since he's an outgoing, good-looking guy. I guess it did the trick, because she repeatedly apologized to him, even as she was telling him a long, personal story about why she needed the extra cash. When he handed her the $120, she told him she'd throw in a really nice Cantoni bar and two pneumatic bar stools free because she felt bad about upping the price. He quickly calculated that he could sell the bar set for a lot more than the extra $80 he had to pay for the chair, and while he still can't quite figure out her line of reasoning, it was crystal clear to him at the time that he'd better squeeze everything into his car and speed away before she changed her mind again, which he did post-haste.

Ah, Craigslist...In addition to getting some really great bargains, you have to deal with some real characters. I guess that's part of the excitement.


On a saner note, he and Jenn picked up these green leather swivel chairs last night ...just because they're funky and were reasonably priced. The seller described them as La Tour 1887 Eiffel chairs, but that doesn't turn up anything on Google. Anyone know anything about them?

The latest Mystery Chairs


  1. Holy cows! That's some massive C-list score-age! While I lust for the Alvar Aalto chair, I'd have to throw a sheep skin over it or something for the winter. It's seriously cold here today. I don't know what to make of the kick *ss green chairs. I'd have snatched them up too.

  2. WOWZA!! Could your daughter and SIL be bribed into putting me on their Christmas gift list? I would be thrilled with any of the above. Mr. Modtomic's brrrrr weather always seems to move due east right towards me. It's 9 degrees here and 5 inches of snow. Fifty years ago my Mom would be making snow ice cream - before we knew about acid rain. Maybe that's why I'm krazy :)

  3. @Krazy4Mod: On the rare occasion that it snowed in our part of the country, my mom would make snow ice cream for us too. I'm thinking our whole generation may have suffered the same fate. :)

  4. @Mr.Modtomic: It's 24 degrees here this morning, and I won't be sticking my head outside today. Your 9 degrees is way out of my tolerance range.

    The green chairs will require more research for sure, but they are so funky that they will sell, no matter what they are.

  5. Wow! what a find for $40; even at $120 it's amazing (although, it's a crappy thing for a seller to jack up an already agreed on price)

  6. Score on the AA chair, even at $120. I'm quite familiar with the new CL bidding style. It's especially bad here in Los Angeles with all the dealers scouring Craigslist for mid century finds. Sounds like he came out great with the extra pieces though - yeah, go figure her rationale!

  7. @mooboy: I agree that it was crappy. Whatever happened to the idea that a person's word is his bond? She didn't ask for offers. She listed the chair for $40 and told my SIL they had a deal. I would have sold it for $40 and learned to research my items more carefully before listing. My word is worth a lot more than $80, but these days there are people who would say that's just plain stupid, I guess.

  8. @Rhan Vintage: A dealer here tried to buy a couch out from under me recently. I had put down a deposit, and he tried to talk the seller into giving me my money back and letting him have the couch anyway. Luckily, I was dealing with a seller who has integrity.

    I guess my SIL was lucky too. He may have been dealing with a seller lacking integrity...but that was balanced by her lack of common sense and business acumen, so he came out ahead in the end. Go figure charging him $80 more for the chair and then giving him a bar he can probably sell for several hundred dollars.

  9. OK...I was a tad catty about the seller, and my conscience started to bother me, so I edited my post a bit. Things like that are going to happen when you use Craigslist. It just goes with the territory.

  10. What a score!!! Wow. I'm speechless... and envious. Think I'll go check Craigslist.

  11. waaaaa I never find great deals!!

    Well OK, in about 3 decades I've found a FEW, but never on anything big or valuable *pout*

    I'm just jealous!! =D

  12. I guess I really should quit being whiney about the $120. Getting it for $40 was too good to be true, and $120 was still a total steal...especially when we got the bar and stools free. I'll post pictures of them soon.