Sitting Pricey

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

(courtesy Christie's)

Economic uncertainty has done little to dampen enthusiasm at the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé Collection auction at Christie’s in Paris. Multiple sales records have been broken, including the highest price for a piece of 20th Century design, Eileen Gray’s Art Deco “dragon chair” from 1917-1919, which fetched $28,341,909, far surpassing the high estimate of $3,833,040.

(courtesy Design Within Reach)

Gray (1878-1976) is best known for her chrome-plated tubular steel side tables from 1927, which are still in production. This version, which goes so well with Corbusier armchairs, is for sale at Design Within Reach for $550. The dragon chair shows how much Gray’s work evolved in less than ten years. And though many modernists renounced the art deco, art moderne and other transitional styles as products of bourgeois decadence, many modern designers began their careers working in these much less dogmatic and highly seductive styles. Another such example from the sale, a pair of curved Honduran mahogany stools designed Pierre Chareau, architect of landmark modernist Maison de Verre, were sold for $44,767.

Design history aside, would you sit on a $28 million anything?

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