Inside the Top 10 Most Coveted Lots at Christie’s June Design Sale
Rare pieces by Jean Royère, Pierre Chareau, and Eileen Gray were top sellers
Pierre Chareau’s Religieuse Floor Lamp sold yesterday at Christie’s Design sale in New York for $2,172,500 setting a new record at auction for the designer surpassing its $1.2 million high estimate. Eileen Gray’s Transat chair from 1927-30 sold for $1,596,500, which was the highest price achieved for one of the chairs from that series at auction. The sale totaled $8.3 million and had a 95-percent sell through rate by lot.
The block was brimming with newly surfaced treasures spanning the last century, and there were sky-high sales for works by such design legends as Jean Royère and Pierre Legrain. Francois-Xavier Lalanne’s Singe Avise (ca. 2005), a bronze monkey sculpture from the estate of former Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Grey, sold for $444,500, over four times its estimate.
Read on for some insights on the top ten lots from the sale.
1. Pierre Chareau’s Religieuse Floor Lamp (c. 1923)
Price realized: $2,172,500
In patinated metal and alabaster, Religieuse speaks to Chareau’s incredible vision as not only a furniture designer but also an architect. Now, the seven-figure sale marks not only a new auction record for the designer, but claims the prize as the highest-selling lot in a Design auction this season.
2. Eileen Gray’s Transat Armchair (1927 – 1930)
Price realized: $1,596,500
Although nine decades have passed since its creation, this remarkable example of Gray’s Transat chair has maintained the original lacquered frame, nickel-plated fittings, and even animal-hide upholstery. Its immaculate condition is even more miraculous, as only 12 are believed to have been made, so it’s no surprise that the June 20th sale established a world auction record for any Transat chair.
3. Pierre Legrain’s Unique Flatware Service and Canteen (1920 – 25)
Price realized: $828,500
4. Francois-Xavier Lalanne’s Singe Avise (c. 2005)
Price realized: $444,500
A surrealist who was inspired by peers like Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, Lalanne crafted sculptural, animal-themed designs that ranged from sheep-shaped stools to rhinoceros cabinets. The patinated bronze ape shown here is numbered and stamped with the initials FXL 2/8.
5. Pierre Chareau’s Desk and Stool, Model MB 405 (c. 1927)
Price realized: $312,500
This rosewood and iron desk and stool were used in furnishing the estate of Henry Kapferer, a loyal client of Chareau’s, and embody the striking interplay between wood and metal that fascinated the designer.
6. Jean Royère’s Flaque Low Table (c. 1954)
Price realized: $300,000
Ahead of its time, this amorphous oak table with intricate straw marquetry premiered in 1954. To this day, it is considered to be a signature piece in the designer’s collected works, as well as an icon of avant-garde design.
7. Pierre Chareau’s Pair of Adjustable Armchairs, Model MS 220 (c. 1922)
Price realized: $237,500
The walnut and leather chairs, which exemplify Chareau’s love of luxurious materials, are from the earliest years of Chareau’s short but explosive career.
8. Jean-Michel Frank’s Set of Library Steps (c. 1930)
Price realized: $175,000
This model of steps, believed to be one of only two in existence, originally belonged to Frank himself. At the point in his career when these steps were crafted, Frank was the favorite designer of Parisian intellectuals for his simple, elegant interiors. Perhaps that’s why this piece sold for over 10 times the Christie’s low estimate of $15,000.
9. Eugene Printz’ Folding Table (c. 1928)
Price realized: $162,500
Crafted from palmwood, the three-part table exemplifies Printz’ place as an icon of forward-thinking furniture design—a slightly ironic identity for the son of a reproduction antiques manufacturer.
10. Jean Royère’s Set of Four Yo-Yo Bar Stools (1950s)
Price realized: $162,500
First presented in 1955 at the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs, the painted wrought-iron stools feature Royère’s trademark ring motif and manifest his commitment to imaginative design.