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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dancing on the Titanic

Tonight, Christie's three-day auction of furniture, accessories, and art from the estate of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent comes to a close. The first two days netted $382 million in bids with several lots reaching record-setting levels. An Eileen Gray leather armchair (above) fetched $28 million, the highest price ever paid for a work of 20th-century design at auction. The winning bidder? Cheska Vallois, the dealer who originally sold the "Dragons" chair (detail below) to St. Laurent in the early 1970s.

The chair was designed for Mme Mathieu-Lévy who commissioned Gray to refurbish and furnish her Paris apartment (below) in 1920.

A two-tier metal and crystal-glass bar made in 1965 by François-Xavier Lalanne, who died in December, sold for $3.5 million. Again, a record-setting price for a piece of furniture of this type.

Proceeds from the auction will go to AIDS research and a charitable foundation set up by St. Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, who survives him. The auction catalog is an intriguing read and available online.


erin@designcrisis said...

The Lalanne bar -- yes. The crazy Eileen gray chair -- no.

$28 million? You could almost bail out a bank or buy Chrysler for that kind of cash.

MaryBeth said...

What? $28 million, I thought we were in a recession and nobody had any money. I don't even like it. MB

Raina said...

Hi ya MaryBeth and welcome!

I know in my mind that chair has an impeccable provenance and by definition should be fabulous, but I can't get it over its looking like an cheesy bullshorn club chair from some godawful living room in a Wyoming ranch.

woodley park-zoo said...

You'd really think it would be a different piece of furniture that would go for $28 mills. Goodness.

Raina said...

From what I've read, the piece's original dealer (and eventual winner) got into a war of "mine is bigger than yours" with an anonymous phone bidder. Boys.

david john said...

that is funny! that was my favorite piece in the auction. i posted it a few days ago.

personally, i think this chair is stunning!!!!!

thanks for the great post!

David said...

Awful chair, but cool bar! I love a bar. Everyone should have one, cabinet or cart, take your pick.

Designers' Brew said...

Pedigree or no, that thing is hideous. Plus it just looks incredibly uncomfortable!