15-10-09-2211NE05A Simon de Pury Lambert.jpg
A Louis XV ebony bureau plat and cartonnier with provenance to the collection of Baron Gustave de Rothschild in Paris which is estimated at £200,000-400,000 at the sale of the Lambert collection.

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In a volte face, De Pury has shelved plans to sell the eclectic £17m collection in an online sale in association with Mayfair dealership Mallett (owned by Dreweatts and Bloomsbury Auctions), accepting instead Christie's eleventh hour pitch to be partners in the sale.

The sale date has moved from October 12 to the 14th to fit with Christie's Frieze Week schedule and a modest last-minute catalogue has been printed.

Mallett's Ely House showroom remains the viewing venue for A Visual Odyssey: Selections from LAC (the Lambert Art Collection) that mixes contemporary art and modern design with 18th century French furniture and objets d'art - including a 1953 Fiat Topolino 500 that greets customers in a display 'curated' by interior designer Jacques Grange.

The 306 lots will remain at Ely House for the viewing until the day of the sale. Christie's will promote the sale internally via some signage and window banners.

Commission Rates

De Pury say Mallett remain an important partner in the sale and it is understood the relationship will continue for future events.

However, on this occasion, a press release that found room for a 153 word disclaimer regarding the road-worthiness of the Fiat 500 - "not sold as a means of transport" - did not mention Mallett's name.

One consequence of the move to Christie's is that commission rates for buyers have soared.

When Simon de Pury announced his first commercial auction since leaving Phillips de Pury in 2012 (and his first move into the digital sphere) he planned to pass on the cost savings from online-only catalogues and footloose premises by charging a discounted buyer's premium of 15% up to $2m and 12% thereafter.

For this sale, at least, the charges are Christie's standard 25 per cent up to £50,000, 20 per cent over £50,000 and 12 per cent over £1 million.

Cator Contribution

Important in successfully changing the mind of consignor Baroness Marion Lambert was the contribution of Charles Cator, Christie's deputy chairman who has known the collection for three decades.

His department have been able to add significantly to the cataloguing of a Louis XV ebony bureau plat and cartonnier for example and it is estimated at £200,000-400,000.

"When I first saw this magnificent Louis XV ebony bureau plat and cartonnier 30 years ago, it stood alone with Alberto Giacometti's three Grande femme debout and the impact was so strong I have never forgotten it," said Cator.

Paul Gallois in Christie's furniture team has discovered the original owner of the neoclassical desk - Baron de Besenval (1722-1791), a celebrated collector and friend of Marie-Antoinette. The ensemble is subsequently recorded in the fabled collection of Baron Gustave de Rothschild in Paris from whom it has descended to the Lambert family.