Oodles of Ruhlmann, lots of Lalanne, and enough primo Jean-Michel Frank pieces to furnish at least two Architectural Digest-featured pieds-à-terre. Such was the dazzling array of 20th century treasures on offer yesterday in the second evening sale of Christie’s three-day blockbuster auction of the Collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, which has brought in €307 million ($386 million) so far. The 20th century decorative art and design sale alone realized a record €59.1 million ($76.5 million), setting 12 world record prices for artists at auction. Among those artists? Eileen Gray, whose otherworldly “Dragons” armchair (pictured above) sold for an otherworldly €21.9 million ($28.3 million), shattering the auction record for a 20th century decorative artwork.
No word on who will be taking home the now famous fauteuil, which has a Maria Felix-meets-Vincent Price flair and reminds us of the Karl Lagerfeld-designed Chanel couture dress that Anna Wintour wore to last year’s Met Costume Institute gala. Created by Gray between 1917 and 1919 and acquired by her early patron Suzanne Talbot, the leather-upholstered chair is framed in sculpted wood “lacquered brownish orange and silver and modelled as the serpentine, intertwined bodies of two dragons, their eyes in black lacquer on a white ground, their bodies decorated in low relief with stylized clouds,” notes the catalogue. “The armchair distills all that was so personal and so magical in the first, intimately expressive phase of Gray’s career,” and work from ensuing years, when she swapped lacquer for architecture, sold well too. Gray’s “Satellite” hanging lamp (circa 1925 and pictured above), once suspended from the ceiling of YSL’s Rue Babylone apartment, sold for €2.9 million ($3.8 million), well exceeding its €600K-€800K estimate. Suffice it to say we were outbid on the Francois-Xavier Lalanne-designed Bar “YSL,” which went for a cool €2.7 million ($3.5 million). We’ll drink to that.
Previously on UnBeige: