A packed saleroom and a continuous barrage of phone bids combined to ensure a near sell-out, multi-estimate result at Sotheby’s in Paris for their three-session auction (in association with Artcurial) of the collection of Félix Marcilhac.
All bar 15 of the 313 lots sold to
total €20.5m hammer, two and a half times the original predictions
of around €8m.
Marcilhac is a highly regarded
decorative arts dealer but is equally well known as an auction
expert and author on Art Nouveau and Deco. Over his long career he
has bought from many major properties. His own private collection,
which furnished his home, was peppered with unique pieces and those
that came with provenances to earlier key names.
Last week's results provided strong
evidence of the draw of the Marcilhac name. Almost 600 people from
Europe and the USA registered to bid and as well as the strong
take-up, the sale set 21 auction records.
Most of the highest prices came on the
first evening session on March 11 when demand was such that the 74
lots took a marathon two and a half hours to disperse. However, the
enthusiasm continued right through the sale, with many of the
ceramics, glass, and metalwares offered the next afternoon leaving
their modest estimates in the dust.
The top price of the auction was for a
piece that epitomised what was most desirable about this property.
The 4ft 2in (1.09m) cabinet, constructed from patinated bronze and
panels of gypsum, is a unique piece by the designer-decorator
Jean-Michel Frank, created c.1935 for the smoking room of his own
Sotheby's had put an estimate of
€400,000-600,000 on this restrainedly elegant piece which Félix
Marcilhac acquired in 1980, but at the sale the bidding rose to
around three times that level as the Paris Art Deco dealer Cheska
Vallois, a major buyer at the auction, did battle with another room
bidder then a phone bidder.
A second phone, bidding through
Sotheby's European decorative arts head Cécile Verdier, was waiting
keenly in the wings, joining in when Galerie Vallois dropped out
and they eventually emerged victorious when the hammer fell at
€3.2m (plus premium).
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