18TH CENTURY MAHOGANY BUREAU TABLE ACHIEVES A STUNNING $5.7 MILLION AT CHRISTIE’S NEW YORK

MASTERFULLY CARVED TABLE BY NEWPORT’S MOST CELEBRATED CABINETMAKER SETS A NEW WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE FORM

New York

New York An 18th century mahogany bureau table carved by Newport’s most celebrated cabinetmaker sold for a stunning $5.7 million at Christie’s New York on Friday, January 21, placing it among the highest auction prices ever realized for an item of American furniture. Offered at $700,000-900,000, the table was pursued by multiple bidders, who rapidly drove the price to the $3 million dollar threshold. From there on two dedicated bidders in the saleroom battled back and forth for the handsomely carved table before a hushed audience of clients and onlookers, until auctioneer John Hays dropped the gavel at $5 million. With premium, the final price realized was $5,682,500.

The table, known as the Catherine Goddard Chippendale Block-and-Shell Carved and Figured Mahogany Bureau Table, is attributed to the Newport, Rhode Island cabinetmaker John Goddard (1724-1785). Masterfully designed and crafted, the table is an outstanding example of the celebrated Newport style of block-and-shell carving. Goddard was widely recognized as one of early America’s most talented cabinet-makers and his creations were sought-after by the port city’s most well-to-do merchants.

A handwritten label in the top drawer of the table indicates that Goddard made the knee-hole bureau circa 1765 expressly for his daughter, Catherine Goddard, and may have given it to her as a wedding present. The table remained within his daughter’s family through several generations of descendants until it was sold by the cabinetmaker’s great-great granddaughter Mary Briggs (Weaver) Case in the early 1900s. The table last sold at auction in January 2005 for $940,000.

“This desk bears all the unique characteristics and quality of construction that make Newport furniture of this era so highly prized among collectors. The quality of the mahogany in particular is stunning in this piece and shows that Goddard had his pick of the wood coming into the port during that era,” said Hays, deputy chairman of Christie’s Americas and lead specialist in American Furniture. “We are honored to have established such a strong price today for this table, which represents a new world auction record for the knee-hole desk form.”

Complete results of Christie’s auction of Important American Furniture and Folk Art – a highlight of Christie’s annual Americana Week 2011will be issued separately at the sale’s conclusion. The complete catalogue note for the bureau table (lot 92) is available online at www.christies.com/eCatalogues/index.aspx?id=5E68219AC6842E1C852577A4007B6C73

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Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, 2017), for a 20th century artwork (Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 2022) and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019). Christie's is also recognised as a reference for prestigious single owner collections, having auctioned 8 of the 10 most important collections in history.

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Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including use of hologram technology to tour life-size 3D objects around the world, and the the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

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