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Lyon & Turnbull sell historic New York collection of television producer for £1.3 million
Frances Macdonald, ‘Ophelia’. Estimate: £60,000-80,000 (US$95.000-127,000).
EDINBURGH.- The contents of the New York home of the late Donald L. Taffner, iconic independent television producer and his wife Eleanor B. Taffner, the largest single private collection of furniture, drawings and paintings by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, sold at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh today 7th September 2012 for £1.3 million.

“It was a fantastic atmosphere in a packed sale room with many of the bidders flying in from the United States and Europe, some leaving their private jets at Edinburgh International Airport.” said John Mackie, Director and specialist at Lyon & Turnbull. He continued, “Although some lots were sold abroad I am pleased to say that many will remain in Scotland. The result is a fitting tribute to Donald and Eleanor Taffner who made an extraordinary contribution to Scotland’s cultural heritage with their interest and promotion of the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his circle. We are honoured to have been chosen to sell their collection and I am pleased that it has done so well.”

Amongst over 100 items to be offered in the sale were a beautiful group of watercolours by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Two of the highlights were ‘Bouleternère’, painted around 1925-7, from his period in the south of France which sold for £65,000; and ‘Yellow Tulips’, a remarkable still life dated to 1919 which made £130,000 and will remain in Scotland. Elsewhere, an early watercolour by Frances Macdonald, ‘Girl with Blue Butterflies’ making £100,000, led an important group of watercolours by the artist along with works by her husband Herbert MacNair and sister Margaret Macdonald which were also included in the sale.

A pair of mahogany card room chairs by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, made especially for his greatest patron Miss Cranston for her home in Glasgow made £46,000 and one of the more unusual lots, an intriguing oil painting by Sir John Lavery, depicting the artist with the child star Shirley Temple, ‘Shirley Temple with the artist’ sold for £23,000.

“It’s an extraordinary collection put together over many years by my parents.” said Donald Taffner Jnr. “My sister Karen and I hope that the future owners of these works will get as much pleasure from them as our parents certainly did.”

The quintessential American success story, Donald and his wife and business partner, Eleanor, were responsible for bringing television shows to the American public such as, ‘Three's Company’, ‘Too Close for Comfort’ and ‘The Benny Hill Show’. They were also responsible for classic British productions such as ‘My Family’ and ‘As Time Goes By’.

In 1996 the Taffners supported Glasgow Museums' Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition, which toured in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. In the same year Eleanor was awarded the prestigious ‘Lord Provost's Medal’ for her contribution to the arts in Scotland, and in 2005 the couple were presented with a ‘Wallace Award’ at the Icons of Scotland Dinner hosted by Scotland Magazine. They were the first recipients with no hereditary connection to Scotland to receive the award. As a result of her work promoting the arts in Scotland, Eleanor received an MBE in 2005.Ends

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