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Magazine    December 2001

Spotlight: Paris

France's auction commission finally has agreed to allow outside companies to hold sales in the country, and Christie's has organized nine for December, including 20th-century furniture consigned by couturier Karl Lagerfeld, silver, important French furniture, tapestries, a single-owner collection of tribal art, jewelry and the Charles-Otto Zieseniss collection of decorative arts. There are landmark pieces in all of the sales—first impressions are lasting, after all. Noteworthy are a Louis XVI ormolu-mounted writing desk crafted by the cabinetmaker Roger Vandercruse (also known as Lacroix) with a starting estimate of 7 million French francs ($1 million), a pair of silver candlesticks (below) from Lille and dating to 1659, estimated at 600,000 to 800,000 French francs ($80,000 to $100,000) and a 1948 Gilbert Poillerat wrought-iron mirror.

One of a pair of 17th-century commodes

Silver candlesticks made in 1659

Paris-based Tajan holds about 150 sales a year at the infamous Hotel Drouot, where many Frenchmen spend their lunch hours, at the Four Seasons Hotel George V and in its own building, a handsome mansion with a pristine Art Deco interior. It will close the year with 19 sales, one of the most prominent being 17th, 18th and 19th century decorative arts. While Christie's and Sotheby's are keen on provenance and object identification, Tajan is casual. Accompanying the description for a pair of painted commodes (above) from the 17th century, estimated at 500,000 to 600,000 French francs, are the words "Italian, Genoese?" Nonetheless, the auction house, run by Jacques and Francois Tajan and owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey, is a favorite among the French, who seem to be born collectors.

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