• Press release
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  • New York
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  • For immediate release
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  • 26 November 2019

RELEASE | Christie's Announces December Design Sale Including Rare Frank Lloyd Wright Chairs

(From left to right) JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981), ‘Ours Polaire’ Armchair, circa 1958, sapele, velvet upholstery, $180,000 – 220,000; FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT (1867-1959), Two Important Chairs from the Ward W. Willits House, Highland Park, Illinois, circa 1902, executed by John W. Ayers, Co., stained white oak, fabric upholstery, $200,000 – 300,000 each pair; ADOLF LOOS (1870-1933), Rare Longcase Clock, circa 1900, executed by Johannes Heeg, Vienna, copper, painted copper, brass, glass, $150,000 – 200,000.

New York – Christie’s New York is delighted to announce its December Design Sale in New York on 13 December 2019 celebrating the creative visions of some of the world’s most important designers and architects of the past century. Nearly 200  selected lots will be exhibited, featuring a group of early 20th century Austrian and French Art Deco works, pieces from The Collection of Alexander Kaplen and from an edited New York collection of mid-century French and American design.

The season is highlighted by the spectacular rediscovery of two pairs of Important Chairs from the Ward W. Willits House, Highland Park, Illinois, circa 1902 by Frank Lloyd Wright (estimate: $200,000 – 300,000 each pair). The four chairs offered as pairs are museum-quality examples, have changed hands only once before, and have never been offered at auction. The linear geometry of these important and exceedingly rare Willits chairs created a seminal moment in design and acted as a catalyst for change in 20th century geometric abstraction and modernism influencing the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements, among others. The present examples retain their original finish and have not been restored. Others from the set are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the V&A, the St. Louis Art Museum, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and LACMA.

Michael Jefferson, International Specialist, 20th Century Design, explained: “Aside from their pedigree as important design in the canon, these examples are the most distilled and purely geometric of the chairs that Wright was developing. These were the chairs that formed the bedrock for all subsequent styles and phases of modernism over the next century. Discoveries of this kind rarely ever come to the auction market.”

Other highlights include iconic works by important designers such as the “Ours Polaire” armchair, circa 1950 by Jean Royère (estimate: $180,000 – 220,000), A Tall Case Clock, circa 1905 by Adolf Loos (estimate: $150,000 – 200,000), a Monumental Chandelier, circa 1950 by Paavo Tynell (estimate: $150,000 – 200,000), and two whimsical ‘Jaguar’ Benches, 1992 by Judy Kensley McKie  (estimate: $150,000 – 200,000). Highlights from The Alexander Kaplen Collection include modernist masterpieces by Jean Prouvé, 'Direction' Swivel Chair, model no. 353, circa 1951 (estimate: $50,000 – 70,000) and 'Banquette', model no. 356, circa 1954 (estimate: $50,000 – 70,000).

Daphne Riou, Head of Department, Design, said, “Christie’s is honored to offer several important private collections this season, such as The Clarke Collection of Rietveld and Judd furniture, the Collection of Modernist Masterpieces from Alexander Kaplen as well as a private collection of important works from the Wiener Werkstätte and English modernism. These pieces have been out of public view for decades and we are very excited to present them to the marketplace.”


13 Dec

20 Rockefeller Center, New York, NY, 10020

  • Auction

    13 Dec, 2pm (Lots 1 - 198)

  • Viewing

    New York

    6 Dec, 10am - 5pm

    7 Dec, 10am - 5pm

    8 Dec, 1pm - 5pm

    9 Dec, 10am - 5pm

    10 Dec, 10am - 5pm

    11 Dec, 10am - 5pm

    12 Dec, 10am - 5pm

    13 Dec, 10am - 5pm

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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. Christie’s has sold 8 of the 10 most important single-owner collections in history, including the Paul G. Allen Collection—the most valuable collection ever offered at auction (November 2022). 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). 

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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 creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

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