If you have an extra one of those Zenith Radio Nurse and Guardian Ear sets designed by Isamu Noguchi in 1937 lying around, you might want to dust it off. A very fine-looking example just blew through the pre-sale estimate yesterday at Wright20, the Chicago-based design auction house. Instead of $3,000-5,000, the pioneering baby monitor with the sleek, sculptural form sold for a whopping $22,800.
Of course, you don't have one, hardly anybody who isn't a museum has one. Though Noguchi was American, his signature on the back of the monitor supposedly functioned like a big "smash me, I'm Jap!" sign after Pearl Harbor. Not sure if that's true or not, but these things really don't turn up that often.
Lot 157: Isamu Noguchi, Radio Nurse and Guardian Ear, Zenith Radio Co., sold Oct. 7, 2008 for $22,800 [wright20.com thanks to andy for the catch]