New York sale shows antiques are not just for billionaires

New York sale shows antiques are not just for billionaires
Cheval de Reve by Andre Masson (French 1896-1987) at Christie's Interiors sale in New York ($6,000-8,000).

Even collectors on a budget will find much to interest them at Christie’s auction, says Des O’Sullivan.

What to do about an antique market that is seen to be either the preserve of billionaires in international sales or in the doldrums at local level? For innovation head to New York.

A theme evident at the New York Winter Show in January has re-emerged just in time for Christie’s Interiors auction in the Big Apple on Wednesday and Thursday. Its thrust is an attempt to open the market to new young collectors whose budgets are not limitless.

At the Winter Show an easy-to-read system of coloured price tagging with legends like under $3,000 (€2,750), $5,000 (€4,500), $10,000 (€8,900) and so on was introduced this year and proved to be successful. It allowed buyers to browse and find what they could afford.

Christie’s is setting out to woo young collectors in a different way. The summer interiors auction of 495 lots of furniture, decorative objects and fine art features a collaboration with Alexandra O’Neill, designer of the ready to-wear line Markarian and CeCe Barfield Thompson, principal of the interior design firm CeCe Barfield.

A Chinese export Famille rose and gilt decorated charger,Qianlong period, c1740, at Christie’s interiors sale.
A Chinese export Famille rose and gilt decorated charger,Qianlong period, c1740, at Christie’s interiors sale.

Objects in the auction that provided inspiration for the designers’ capsule collections include a late 18th/19th-century Dutch Delft blue and white five-piece garniture, a pair of Italian marble jardinieres, a 19th-century parcel gilt tray table and a pair of button-tufted couches or day beds of the Directoire and Empire eras known as recamiers.

A floral-motif fabric on the recamiers was the primary inspiration for the O’Neill and Thompson collections on plates, home items and fabrics for pillows and dresses. Each of the young, entrepreneurial designers incorporates art, historical and heritage references in their designs.

The capsule collections of dresses and homeware inspired by the objects in the auction are now being sold exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman, the luxury Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan.

Christie’s says its lot choices reflect its shared admiration for the history of design. The auction reflects the growing fashion for mixing styles and periods, antique and contemporary, to good effect. They do this at Christie’s and at Bergdorf Goodman in New York and you can do it too. Try it out at auctions and fairs throughout Ireland.

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