I had to read the price twice. Then a third time, just to make sure. Yes, Eileen Gray's Art Deco 'Dragons' chair really had sold for £17.7 million!
For me, the most surprising aspect of the recent Yves Saint Laurent auction held at Christie's in Paris was the level of prices being paid for furniture and decorative arts. The hundreds of thousands, and often millions, of pounds paid for vases, chairs, tables and other decorative objects has finally shown that prices can reach those paid for paintings and modern art - traditionally the most valuable items sold in the art and antiques world.
This was particularly resonant with me last weekend as I walked around the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The spiralling main gallery was, with few exceptions, filled with what I considered to be the very worst of modern and contemporary art - over-complicated, un-appealing, unattractive, elitist clap-trap.
I left disappointed, seeing a wasted opportunity and thinking that so few high profile museums or exhibitions devoted to decorative arts exist. That led me to feel disappointed again. Although it did a great service to the profile of the area, it's a shame that Saint Laurent's fabulously wealthy partner Pierre Bergé decided to sell this incredible collection. Instead he could have opened the house they shared and the collection they lovingly built to the public, or donated the collection to a museum, where it could have been enjoyed by all of us for centuries to come.
Christmas Shopping at Alfies
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