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Magazine    December 2001

Spotlight: New York

Jean Michel Frank 1930s parchment tablesEttore Sottsass's Flying Carpet sofa, 1974

Louis XIV Boulle marquetry armoire

One of a pair of Louis XV armchairs

Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg is vying to return as an auction giant. Founded in 1796 in London, the auction house sold some very important European collections in its early days, including Marie Antoinette's, and it is the only auction house in history to have ever held a sale inside Buckingham Palace. Now owned by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Phillips this year has made a huge push to secure large and important collections to compete with the major auction players Christie's and Sotheby's-particularly in the New York market.

For its December 5 New York sale Highly Important French & Continental Furniture, Phillips snatched Thierry Millerand from Sotheby's, and he and his team secured what will be one of the most talked-about pieces of antique French furniture ever to come to auction, a Louis XIV armoire made by the master of marquetry, Andre-Charles Boulle. One of the last of its kind in private hands, having been consigned by a private French collector, the armoire (left) is expected to bring $5 million.

Other pieces in that sale include a pair of Louis XV giltwood armchairs by Jean-Baptiste Tilliard, an important 18th-century chairmaker. Upholstered in a contemporary tapestry fabric, they are estimated at $80,000 to $100,000 for the pair.

Phillips's newly titled 20th-21st Century Design Art department sourced 238 pieces of furniture and decorative arts for a sale scheduled for December 12. The design work of Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, Jean Prouve (picture, table of contents), Le Corbusier, Gio Ponti, Josef Hoffman and dozens of others is represented.

There are seminal pieces in the December 12 catalogue, such as Jean Michel Frank's precious parchment nesting tables designed ca. 1930 (estimate: $100,000 to $150,000) and Marcel Breuer's Wassily clubchair, a 1925 design manufactured by Thonet (estimate: 35,000 to $45,000). Surprises include Ettore Sotsass's 1974 Flying Carpet sofa, with its assymetrical construction (estimate: $25,000 to $30,000) and Hans Luckhardt's 1931 tubular steel chaise, also made by Thonet (estimate: $15,000 to $20,000).

Hans Luckhardt ca. 1931 tubular steel chaise made by ThonetMarcel Breuer 1925 Wassily club chair

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