If Mies van der Rohe’s serene Barcelona Pavilion is your idea of paradise, now you can buy the next best thing: his glass-travertine-and-steel Farnsworth House (1946-51), a textbook Modernist masterpiece an hour from Chicago that will be auctioned by Sotheby’s NY next month. Peter Lord Palumbo, the British real estate developer and arts patron with a taste for famous houses, bought the International Style landmark in 1972 from Chicago physician Edith Farnsworth, but has been trying to sell it for years. Preservationists lobbied the State of Illinois to acquire it for the public, and though a tentative agreement was reached, the present budget deficit scotched the deal. The building and its surrounding 58 acres will be in Sotheby’s 20th-century design sale on 12 December, with an estimate of $4.5/6 million. Meanwhile, preservationists have formed a bidding consortium to buy the house and turn it into a museum; the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois have both pledged $1 million. The non-profit Friends of the Farnsworth House also resolved to support the effort and expect to attract pledges dependent on a winning bid.
Lord Palumbo’s Mies house for sale next month
Farnsworth House will be auctioned next month
1 November 2003