Peter Loughrey, curator, collector, and founder of the Los Angeles Modern Auctions house, died on Monday at age 52. According to an obituary published by Architectural Digest, the cause of death was cancer.
A leading figure in the Los Angeles design and art worlds, Loughrey is best known for launching one of the California city’s best-known auction houses. In 1992, at the age of 24, Loughrey established LAMA, an auction house that has sold pieces by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, and many other marquee names. The enterprise set early auction records for artist George Nakashima, among others, and it has held auctions for the estates of California art luminaries like collector Max Palevsky, dealer Dalzell Hatfield, and curator James Byrnes.
At the February auction, LAMA sold works by Vija Celmins, Henry Moore, Betye Saar, Jasper Johns, and others. With total sales under $100,000 in its first year, LAMA’s annual sales have now achieved $15 million.
Loughrey also worked as a curator, organizing shows such as “Gio Ponti: Furnished Settings & Figuration” (2004) and “Dutch Design” (2005), both of which were presented at Acme Gallery in Los Angeles, since closed. He also helped the Los Angeles County Museum of Art secure loans for its 2012 exhibition California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way,” even lending pieces from his own furniture and library collections. And in 2017, he curated a show focused on Emerson Woelffer for the Getty Foundation’s “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA” initiative.
“I can’t say enough about [Peter’s] unselfish and passionate nature,” Wendy Kaplan, the head of decorative arts and design at LACMA, told Architectural Digest. “He was a rare combination of generosity and an impeccable eye.”
Throughout his career, Loughrey frequently appeared on the PBS program Antiques Roadshow as an appraiser. He contributed to a 2003 book in the Taschen series “Case Study Houses,” which focuses on prototype homes in Los Angeles, and to another released in 2010 in the publisher’s series “Collecting Design.”