500 years: Decorative Arts Europe including Oriental Carpets achieves $14 million- the most successful sale for this category at Christie’s New York

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • October 25, 2010

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A George III ebony-inlaid mahogany secretaire library bookcase, Attributed to Thomas Chippendale, circa 1765 Estimate: $700,000-1,000,000 Price realized: $1,706,500
Christie's Images 2010

Christie’s 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe, including Oriental Carpets achieved $14 million from October 21 to 22, selling over 450 treasures from the 16th to the 19th centuries.  This spectacular sale was the top-grossing 500 Years sale to date held in New York, with the top lot of the sale, the Messer Chippendale Bookcase achieving $1.7 million.  500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe is a new sale concept unique to Christie's that brings together all styles and movements of European Decorative Arts as well as Oriental carpets in a richly varied sale that offers collectors an incredibly diverse range of works of art to choose from.

Will Strafford, International Specialist of European Furniture, said: “This was truly an international sale with 31 countries participating, and we demonstrated yet again the achievement of 500 Years as an innovative response to the market and the buying patterns of our clients. This sale saw extraordinary demand for both important furniture and exceptional works of art from private collections.  The discovery of the Nile Napoleonic clock caused great excitement amongst collectors, and we are thrilled that it realized $722,500, far exceeding the estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.”

Melissa Gagen, International Specialist of English Furniture, said: “The exceptional selection of English furniture, among the best to come to market in New York for years, caught the attention of the world's top collectors.  Bidding was spirited among both private and trade buyers in search of iconic 18th century examples.  The cabinet-maker Thomas Chippendale reigned as his bookcase soared into the million dollar range, making nearly 3 times its price when last sold from the legendary Messer Collection at Christie’s in 1991.  It is the second most expensive bookcase by this maker sold at auction both at Christie's.  The depth of the market for truly exceptional examples of English furniture was demonstrated by the fact that four bidders were actively pursuing the bookcase above the $800,000 level.  Two pairs of chairs by Chippendale and a fantastical chinoiserie mirror attributed to John Linnell and formerly at Ditchley Park also exceeded their pre-sale estimates.”

Jody Wilkie, International Specialist of Porcelain and Ceramics, said: “The successful sale of English and Continental porcelain offered in the three sessions of 500 Years demonstrates the continued strength in the market and the competitive zeal among collectors for objects of rare beauty and quality.  We are particularly pleased with the results of Chelsea porcelain from The Brody Collection, of ‘jeweled’ Coalport from A Private Collection, and of the Sèvres porcelain from several private collections.  While most Vincennes and Sèvres of the mid and late 18th century appealed to traditional buyers and sold solidly within estimate, unique or out of the ordinary objects soared past all expectations – a blue and green trellis-ground cup, cover and stand of 1760 painted with fantasy birds by Armand l’aîné fetched $170,500 against an estimate of $18,000 to $22,000; a pair of plates decorated in gilt and platinum in imitation of Chinese lacquer fetched $218,500 against an estimate of $30,000-50,000.  Also platinum decorated, the Sèvres green-ground tea service of 1812,  made for Napoleon I’s personal use, eclipsed its pre-sale estimate of $50,000-70,000, selling to a private collector after fierce bidding for $362,500.”

Casey Rogers, Specialist of 19th century Furniture, Sculpture and Works of Art, said: “Works of exceptional quality, rarity and provenance yielded remarkable results in the 19th Century Decorative Arts category, proving the resilience of the market and the high demand for fresh-to-market property.   Spirited bidding from a host of international collectors and members of the trade was seen on furnishings by the century’s most revered makers, including an ormolu- and Japanese lacquer-mounted table by Henry Dasson, which realized $158,500 and a fine ormolu-mounted guéridon by Paul Sormani, which fetched $122,500.”

Elisabeth Parker, Head of Rugs and Carpets, said: “Competitive bidding was seen in all areas of the rugs and carpet section particularly for classical Persian carpets of the 17th century including the Isfahan carpet of Central Persia, which realized $120,500.  We were delighted to see strong international participation for top quality pieces and for exceptional carpets from the Caucasus region.”


About Christies

Christie’s, the world's leading art business, had global auction and private sales in 2008 that totalled £2.8 billion/$5.1 billion. For the first half of 2009, art sales totalled £1.2 billion/$1.8 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and expertise, as well as international glamour. Founded in 1766 by James Christie, Christie's conducted the greatest auctions of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and today remains a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful. Christie’s offers over 450 sales annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $80 million. Christie’s has 53 offices in 30 countries and 10 salerooms around the world including London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai and Hong Kong. More recently, Christie’s has led the market with expanded initiatives in emerging and new markets such as Russia, China, India and the Middle East, with successful sales and exhibitions in Beijing, Mumbai and Dubai.

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