Whatever Happened To The Louis Comfort Tiffany Lamp From Antiques Roadshow?

"Antiques Roadshow" has uncovered lots of hidden treasures over the years, things otherwise tucked away and forgotten in people's basements, garages, attics, etc. The mild-mannered and informative antiques appraisal show has unearthed 18th-century jade bowls from China's Qing dynasty, tons of high-value paintings and drawings (including ones from Kanye West), a 1655 edition of Shakespeare's "King Lear," and much, much more. Sometimes appraised pieces sell at auction for more than expected, and sometimes less. But in every case the seller comes to realize that they were in possession of more than mere personal mementos.

Such was the case way back in 1999 when glass appraiser Arlie Sulka took a look at a "Rose Helmut" lamp from American artist and designer Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848 to 1933). Tiffany is the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812–1902), who founded the jewelry and luxury goods brand Tiffany and Co. in 1837. But not to be outdone by his father, Louis founded Tiffany Studios in 1885, a glassmaking company responsible for making some of the most gorgeous, renowned, and highly sought-after lamps from the early 20th century. 

Back in 1999 a pair of unnamed sisters brought to "Antiques Roadshow" a Louis Comfort Tiffany lamp that their mother had bought for $125 some years prior. As PBS says, the lamp was originally valued at $80,000 to $125,000. While we don't know the fate of this lamp, we know that its value has risen to a range of $250,000 to $300,000.

Kept safe for decades

The Rose Helmut lamp in question isn't the only Tiffany lamp to grace "Antiques Roadshow." In 2008 a seller brought in a pair of Tiffany lamps for appraisal. The taller lamp was appraised at $85,000 and the smaller lamp at $45,000. Another odd-looking, turtleback Tiffany lamp from years later reached an appraisal of $30,000 to $40,000. Yet another Tiffany Lamp was appraised at $10,000 to $15,000. Other lamps, however, only look like Tiffany lamps, such as an imitation Tiffany in a 2012 edition of "Antiques Roadshow," available on PBS. That last lamp was bought for $4,000 and at the time of appraisal would have sold for maybe $300 to $600. Each one of these lamps has its own family history that brought it to the present.

Appraiser Arlie Sulka, however, evaluated the Rose Helmut lamp at higher than any of those above-mentioned lamps. As PBS shows, one of the sisters who sold the lamp says that their mother bought it in the late 1960s after seeing it advertised in some local flyer. The original seller apparently knew it was a Tiffany lamp, and it had already belonged to her grandfather, but she sold it regardless as it didn't fit in her apartment. The mother of the two sisters on "Antiques Roadshow" kept the lamp in good condition, away from her five "rambunctious" children, and eventually it made its way to television.

A rising value over time

As stated, there's no information anywhere on what happened to the actual Rose Helmut lamp from "Antiques Roadshow." The most we could say is that the sisters who sold it were extremely happy at the time and even broke down crying a bit. Whether or not they auctioned the lamp or sold it elsewhere is unknown. However, PBS lists increases in the lamp's value over time. It started at a value of $80,000 to $125,000 in 1999 and by 2013 jumped in value from $250,000 to $300,000. It stayed at that value all the way until 2021, which lists the worth as the same amount. 

Looking at the video from its original 1999 "Antiques Roadshow" appraisal, appraiser Arlie Sulka points to the lamp's characteristic helmet-shaped lampshade and top and really beautiful art nouveau floral patterns up the base, which she described as "absolutely magnificent." "It has a wonderful Art Nouveau quality to it," she said. "And it's called the Arc and Leaf. And if you look down closely to the base, you will see these wonderful stylized leaf forms that follow all around the edge, and then are repeated in slightly different style moving up towards the top of the base." The lamp dates to 1905 and was a high-society, luxury item within New York circles even back when it was first issued. Sulka says it would have cost at least $200 back then, which is almost $7,000 in 2024.

It's possible that the sisters on "Antiques Roadshow" might have auctioned the Rose Helmut lamp, but we really don't know. If they kept it, then they've got a rare asset that's not likely to depreciate in value moving into the future.