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Plaza Athénée Hotel Auction to celebrate Design, Art Deco and Contemporary Art
Plaza Athénée: the façade© Masahiko Takeda.

PARIS.- The mythical Paris luxury hotel, famed for its Haussmannstyle façade lined with elegant red awnings overlooking prestigious Avenue Montaigne, is to be enlarged to integrate three adjacent buildings. The enlargement will necessitate the temporary closure of the hotel from October 2013 to Spring 2014. Meanwhile the Plaza Athénée has asked Artcurial Briest – Poulain – F.Tajan to offer a selection of the hotel's furniture, works of art, decorative items and tableware for auction.

A three-day pre-sale viewing, open to the public, will take place in the hotel from 4-6 October 2013, followed by a three-session auction at Artcurial’s Hôtel Marcel-Dassault on 8 October 2013, conducted by François Tajan & Stéphane Aubert.

Highlights to be offered to collectors and connoisseurs include furniture from the celebrated Bar designed by Patrick Jouin in 2001, one of the most spectacular in the city, along with Art Deco items from the Relais Plaza; decorative elements and tableware from the restaurant Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée; and works of contemporary art, among them sculptures by Jean-Michel Folon and Maurizio Galante’s Sound-Tree.

Once upon a time, there was the Hotel of the Future…
The Plaza Athénée was inaugurated exactly 100 years ago in a magnificent building at 25 Avenue Montaigne, close to the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, and has always been a important meeting-point for the top names in music, whether composers or performers.

In 1947 Christian Dior set up on Avenue Montaigne to be close to the hotel, soon making it his second home. Avenue Montaigne became the avenue of Haute Couture and Fashion, with the Plaza Athénée its artistic and fashionable hub.

In 2000 the Plaza Athénée was fully renovated, with celebrity chef Alain Ducasse opening a restaurant that swiftly became one of the temples of Paris cuisine; and Patrick Jouin, a disciple of Philippe Starck, designing the most avant-garde bar in the French capital.

In 2013, as it celebrated its centenary, the Plaza Athénée boasted 194 regularly renovated rooms, including 46 suites. Over the last two years the Dorchester Collection has availed itself of the opportunity to acquire three buildings adjacent to the Plaza Athénée: a town-house (home to Harry Winston) on Avenue Montaigne; another town-house on Rue Clément-Marot; and the building at 21 Avenue Montaigne, current home to the Relais Plaza. Integrating these three buildings into the hotel will start on 1st October 2013.

In Spring 2014 the newly enlarged Plaza Athénée will reopen, equipped with new suites and reception rooms.

Design, Art Deco, Contemporary Art & French Art de Vivre
Design, Art Deco, Contemporary Art and French Art de Vivre are the themes covering the items selected for auction by Artcurial Briest – Poulain – F.Tajan and the management of the Plaza Athénée. The auction reflects the permanent quest for innovation that underpins the Plaza Athénée’s reputation.

Patric k Jouin ’s Iconic Bar
Artcurial will be offering for auction all the elements from the celebrated Bar designed by Patrick Jouin in 2001 which, with its unique combination of 18th century panelling with contemporary Design, soon became one of the most popular spots in Paris. When it opened it was the first ‘trendy’ bar to be opened in a luxury hotel.

The 7-metre bar was made from a single piece of sculpted, rounded glass by Paris craftsman Patrick Desserme. It resembles a giant iceberg that, when touched, lights up and changes colour, and is a monument in its own right.

The Bar furniture includes tall tables with polished glass tops and stainless steel legs; Louis XV-style metallized stools with leather seats; and elegant Murano glass minichandeliers. The alcove sofas and club armchairs in anthracite Cassina leather from the lounge area will also be offered for auction.

Maurizio Galante’s Sound -Tree
The Plaza Athénée has always been in the vanguard of design and innovation, as typified by the Sound-Tree musical sculpture designed for Elipson by Maurizio Galante and Tal Lancman. This was installed in the Bar in July 2011, and will be sold at auction on 8 October 2013.

The bass amplifier is incorporated inside the tree-trunk, while the cables that rise to the ceiling like branches bear round, dangling fruits that are actually speakers.

Anyone sitting beneath the tree is enveloped by sound as if in the heart of a musical cocoon.

The Plaza Athénée Sound-Tree was the first piece in a new series of haute-couture speakers produced by Elipson, the biggest name in French electro-acoustics in the 1960s and ’70s and now pioneers in Sound & Design.

Furniture & Art Deco Items from the Relais Plaza
The chic Relais Plaza brasserie became a veritable Paris institution as soon as it opened in 1936. All its Art Deco seats, wall-lights and jardinières will be offered for auction, including a commode topped by a display cabinet, which adorned the entrance; a pair of torchères; bronzes; a bookcase; a sofa; and various items of decoration.

Alain Ducasse: French Art de Vivre
Alain Ducasse conceives of a meal as a Story, with the table as a Stage. Tableware and decorative items take part in his theatrical approach to gastronomy – one blending contemporary design with artistic craftsmanship.

The sale will feature the armchairs specially designed for Alain Ducasse by Patrick Jouin in 2004, whose leather-covered seats are topped by a Louis XVI resin medallion back upholstered in orange fabric.

Another spectacular innovation, designed by Patrick Jouin to mark the 10th anniversary of the Alain Ducasse restaurant, will also be offered: 3 of the 4 large screens used as soundscreens to facilitate discreet, intimate conversation. These unique items in studded fabric and leather, made by leading craftsmen, take the lettuce, mushroom and artichoke as their decorative themes.

The huge totem designed by Patrick Jouin, inscribed with the French terms for various cooking operations (on barde, on larde, on farce, on émince), will also be available.

Some 200 items of crockery and silver, marked Plaza Athénée, Alain Ducasse – including a service specially designed by Maison Hermès – complete the selection.

Galerie des Gobelins, Garden Courtyard & Lobby
Other auction highlights include the magnificent wrought iron standing-lamps from the Garden Courtyard, renowned for its red parasols and ivy-covered walls, and one of the pleasantest places to be in Paris on a summer’s day.

The Sacho Hesslein plush velvet sofas, hand-embroidered cushions by Maison Lesage, Louis XVI-style coffee-tables, and items of decoration made for the Galerie des Gobelins during its refurbishment in 2008, will also feature in the sale– along with four monumental vases located at the gallery entrance.

Contemporary art includes two outstanding bronze sculptures by Jean-Michel Folon (1934 – 2005): Deuxième Pensée (fork) and Troisième Pensée (spoon), made in 1996 for the Alain Ducasse restaurant (estimate: e 50,000 – 70,000 apiece).

Items from the Lobby include the Reception and Conciergerie desks; a large circular carpet with interlacing decoration incorporating the Plaza Athénée monogram; coffee-tables; and the hotel’s iconic letter-box.

Furniture, curtains and other items from the hotel bedrooms will also appeal to connoisseurs, above all the embroidered sheets by Maison Porthault reserved for the use of visiting royalty.

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