Celebrity estate agent Josh Flagg on a gilt mirror and other treasures formerly owned by Betsy Bloomingdale
‘This mirror came from the Betsy Bloomingdale sale in New York. I did not need to go to the sale because I am close friends with the family and I sold their home, so I knew the condition of every single piece through and through.
‘I bid on everything at the auction, which included the majority of the items from the house. The mirror was one of the smaller things I bought that day. I also got a phenomenal English
cabinet that had been in the library. I bought the Vu Cao Dam painting, Le Retour, which hung over the fireplace in the outdoor room. I bought a clock that was on the mantel — it appears in a famous Town and Country photograph of Alfred and Betsy sitting by the fireplace. And I got most of the incredible Billy Haines pieces — they went way over the estimate. All of that is in our house now.
‘The first time I met Betsy, she and I got along really well. I came over to the house, she greeted me at the front door, and I turned my head to the right and noticed this giant mirror in the entry hall. I think it is late 19th century, maybe 130 years old. At the top there is a seated figure of a little boy with a flute. It’s pretty ornate — by no means is it a practical mirror, but who is ever going to powder their nose in it?
‘The first time I met Betsy, she greeted me at the door, and I turned my head to the right and noticed this giant mirror in the entry hall’
‘I had this high spot in mind when I bought it, and any house my husband and I buy in the future is going to have to have a wall that fits it; I don’t want to put it in storage. It makes a contrast with the black and white in the room. All the other pieces are Billy Haines. I may be one of the largest collectors of Haines in the world, and have pieces from the Annenbergs, the Bloomingdales and the Reagans.
‘I didn’t attend the Bloomingdale viewing or go to the auction in person, but I was live on the phone throughout — and at the same time I was talking to the Bloomingdales, who were watching everything. That was great fun; we had a good time.’