The old fares better than the modern

Marathon three-day sale of Château de Gourdon collection confirms robustness of Art Deco market

Ruhlmann's chaise longue “on skis” made for the Maharaja of Indore in 1929 went to a European collector for a record €2.9m (est €2m-€3m)

PARIS. The marathon three-day sale of the Château de Gourdon collection at Christie’s Paris (29-31 March) was a lacklustre, long-drawn out affair, but it confirmed the robustness of the Art Deco market, raising a total €42m and setting 13 artists' records. “I was sceptical and worried by the fact that the objects had only recently been on the market, but Christie’s came out of it very well,” said the Parisian gallery owner Cheska Vallois, one of the main buyers at the sale. The best results were achieved by the great Art Deco classics, although they came nowhere near those of the sale of Claude and Simone Dray’s collection which realised a total of €59.7m in 2006.

With 35 pieces sold for a total near €13m, Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann was the clear winner of the saleroom. Galerie Vallois paid €2.3m (est €2m-€3m) for his famous Tardieu writing desk of 1929 bought at Christie’s by Château de Gourdon’s owner, Laurent Negro, for $1.8m in 2000. Although classified as a national treasure and thus forbidden to leave French soil, his chaise longue “on skis” made for the Maharaja of Indore in 1929 went to a European collector for a record €2.9m (est €2m-€3m). This was sold for FFr2.1m ($380,000) at the 1999 sale of Pierre Hebey's collection. Another national treasure, Jean Dunand’s lacquer room Les Palmiers, was bought at the last minute for €2.2m (est €2m-€3m) over the telephone by a European collector. Meanwhile, there were no takers for Dunand’s fine games table made for the couturière Madeleine Vionnet, for which the estimate of €3–€5m was believed to be far too high.

Other than for Ruhlmann, bidding was very slow. Eileen Gray’s lacquered screen proved a difficult sell, due to the perceived poor state of the laquer, although it eventually sold for €1.3m (est €1m-€1.5m ). There was greater competition for the objects created by Eckart Muthesius for the Maharajah of Indore. His bookshelf and his pair of wall-mounted standard lamps went for €481,000 (est €400,000-€600,000) and €445,000 (est €200,000-€300,000) respectively to a telephone bid taken by Isabelle de la Bruyère, director of Christie’s Middle East. Could she have been bidding on behalf of Sheik Saud Al Thani of Qatar, a great aficionado of the Maharaja of Indore’s former collection?

France's Pompidou Centre picked up a few pieces: Eileen Gray’s tubular nickel chair (€101,800, est €60,000-€80,000), René Herbst’s pedestal table WHICH ONE? and a chair by Louis Sognot and Charlotte Alix (€8,750, est €7.000-€9,000).

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