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Palm Beach Modern's auction features unprecedented selection of French, Italian & American modern design
Eero Saarinen for Knoll pea-green “Grasshopper” chair with ottoman, circa 1946. Est. $2,500-$3,500. Palm Beach Modern Auctions image.

WEST PALM BEACH, FL.- Palm Beach Modern’s January auction of the Steve Rubell Studio 54 archive made headlines worldwide, but after the excitement of the million-dollar sale had subsided, there came an unexpected bonus – inquiries from potential consignors on both sides of the Atlantic. The Rubell collection had been paired with a superb selection of modern design and furnishings that ultimately accounted for one-third of the sale’s gross.

“Collectors, dealers and estate executors liked what they saw at the January sale and wanted the Palm Beach Modern treatment, too. They came forward with a stunning array of modern furniture whose overall quality is unprecedented in the history of our auction house,” said auctioneer Rico Baca. Those consignments form the core of a March 30 auction of 400 vetted lots of rare, iconic pieces by premier names in Italian, French and American modern design.

“Sophisticated – chic – those are the words that come to mind,” Baca said. “As each shipment of merchandise arrived to us – from Belgium, France, Italy and several states – we became increasingly challenged to come up with catalog descriptions that adequately conveyed the wow factor.”

The ultimate in minimalist expression, a circa-1970 Ado Chale (Belgian, b. 1928-) bronze and metal cocktail table is estimated at $50,000-$70,000. Chale’s designs evolved from his passion for minerals, and often his inventive hybrids combine form with natural elements. The bronze top of the cocktail table offered by Palm Beach Modern was crafted to simulate a spiral-pattern wood grain. “Ado Chale designs are found in royal palaces and French museums. Everything he makes is elegant, original and perfectly proportioned. Many of his pieces are one offs,” said Baca.

Relatively few furniture designs by French sculptor Jacques Duval-Brasseur have appeared at auction in the past. His rare circa-1970 dining/center hall table of brass and glass with splay-foot pedestal incorporates a chunky natural amethyst quartz specimen into its design. Baca describes the table as “very Palm Beach in style.” It is entered with a $20,000-$25,000 estimate.

Known for his imaginative methods of blending architecture and art, sculptor Albert Paley (American, b. 1944-) was the first metal sculptor to receive the coveted Institute Honors, the highest award the American Institute of Architects bestows on a non-architect. Paley is represented in the sale by a forged and fabricated steel and wood console/sofa table. In quintessential Paley style, the wood top is fluted in the same manner as the metal legs, whose exteriors feature eccentrically pleated and mashed metal adornments. Estimate: $25,000-$45,000.

Midcentury design visionaries applied their ingenious ideas in unexpected ways. An example is the Arnold Wolf for JBL walnut stereo speaker cabinet known as the Paragon D44000. Manufactured in 1961, the symmetrically flawless furnishing is an achievement in aesthetics with an underlying utilitarian purpose. The example to be sold by Palm Beach Modern boasts Hollywood provenance, having come from the Beverly Hills estate of actor Glenn Ford (1916-2006). Estimate: $25,000-$45,000.

Another highlight of the furniture section is a quirky “Traccia” occasional table designed by Meret Oppenheim (German/Swiss, 1913-1985) for Simon Gavina (Italy). Its gold leaf over wood top is suspended by supports shaped as tall, realistically formed bird (possibly ostrich) legs. Estimate: $4,500-$6,500.

Other significant pieces include an iconic 1958 Arne Jacobsen (Danish, 1902-1971) leather and aluminum armchair with ottoman, $7,000-$10,000; a circa-1946 pea-green Eero Saarinen for Knoll “Grasshopper” chair with ottoman, $2,500-$3,500; and a circa-1950 Jacques Adnet (French, 1984-1984) desk of prescient design and superior quality.

“Jacques Adnet was in partnership with Hermes and designed for them. His ability to seam leather together was unrivaled,” said Baca. “The drawer fronts of the desk in our sale are wrapped in leather, with studs and ring pulls. This desk is a testament to Adnet’s reputation as one of the best of the French modernists.” Estimate: $25,000-$45,000.

A fine selection of modern glass is led by a circa-1998 Lino Tagliapietra (Italian, b. 1934-) Mogambo vase in seafoam green. Its African name suits the compelling pattern of black zebra stripes that follow the U-shape curvature of the vessel. “This design is consistent with all of Tagliapietra’s work, in that it is highly intricate and would require tremendous skill to accomplish. How Tagliapietra is able to space his canes so accurately within such an extreme curvature of glass is a mystery to me. Obviously, he is a truly great artist, and that’s why he is so collected,” said Baca. Estimate: $4,000-$5,000.

Also to be auctioned is a grouping of Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) posters, including one from an important 1956 exhibition in Vallauris, France; edition of 1,000 (est. $500-$600). All of the posters came from a “very particular” collector, Baca said, and have been vetted for authenticity.

Palm Beach Modern’s Fine Art, Decorative Arts & Modern Design auction will commence at 12 noon Eastern Time on Saturday, March 30, 2013. The exhibition center and auction venue is located at 417 Bunker Rd., West Palm Beach, FL 33405. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Preview Mon.-Fri. March 25-29 from 10-5; and from 9 a.m. on auction day. For additional information, call 561-586-5500, e-mail Website: View the fully illustrated auction catalog online at

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