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International collectors come out in droves for the first part of the sale of the collection of Robert de Balkany
Sale totals €13.3 million / $15 million/ £11.5 million with 95 % of lots sold. Photo: Sotheby's.

PARIS.- International collectors came out in droves to testify to the extraordinary eye and taste of the great French collector Robert de Balkany (1931-2015). In the first of three sales at Sotheby’s in Paris, collectors, art dealers and institutions from across the globe (including the US, Europe, Russia, Asia and the Middle East) registered their intention to bid on masterpieces of Decorative Arts and Old Masters paintings from Robert de Balkany’s Paris residence, the Hôtel de Feuquières in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The sale had been preceded by an exhibition which attracted over 3,000 visitors.

Assembled over 50 years, this exceptional ensemble represents one of the most significant collections of Decorative Art and Old Master paintings ever to appear at auction in France.

Yesterday’s sale was led by the Borghese-Windsor Cabinet - the most important Roman cabinet ever to have come onto the market – which sold to The J. Paul Getty Museum for €2,499,000 / $2,812,475/ £2,154,493, a world auction record for a piece of Roman furniture. Made in Rome circa 1620, this exceptional gilt-bronze mounted silver, ebony and hard stone cabinet boasts exceptional provenance, having belonged to Pope Paul V Borghese (1605-1621), before being acquired in 1824 by King George IV who displayed it in Windsor Castle. The cabinet remained in the Royal Collection until 1959, when it was bought by Aladar de Balkany, on the advice of his son who was passionate about architecture.

Commenting on yesterday’s results, Mario Tavella, Président-Directeur Général, Sotheby’s France and Chairman, Sotheby’s Europe said: “The two top lots of this evening - the Borghese-Windsor Cabinet and Charles Clay’s organ clock – are testament to Robert de Balkany’s eye and passion for hardstone furniture and exceptional timepieces - the most important categories of his collection. Both of these exceptional pieces went to major art institutions, The J. Paul Getty Museum and the Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement, Utrecht and for me, this is the best tribute to my friend Robert. It was an honour to have been entrusted with the sale of the masterpieces in his collection which he jealously kept in Paris. ”

Other highlights of the evening included:

• A monumental organ clock by Charles Clay London, circa 1740 which was acquired by the Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement, Utrecht for €867,000/ $975,756 / £747,477 (est. €180,000-250,000).

• A pair of 18th century medal cabinets by André-Charles Boulle and his follower, JeanFaizelot-Delorme which fetched €699,000 / $786,683/ £602,637 (est. €600,000-1,000,000).

• A pair of patinated and gilt-bronze mounted burr amboyna consoles attributed to AlbertErnest Carrier-Belleuse, circa 1870 which rose to €675,000 / $759,672/ £581,946 (est. €400,000-600,000).

• A depiction of Viscount Gormanston's White Dog by George Stubbs, 1781 which soared to €459,000 / $516,577 / £395,723 (est. €200,000-300,000).

• An important silver table garniture comprising three large centrepieces, Paul Storr of Storr & Co for Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, London, 1817, applied with the Talbot coat-of-arms which more than doubled the pre-sale low estimate and realised €381,000 / $428,793 / £328,476 (est. €150,000-250,000).

Yesterday's sale has already brought a total of €13.3 million / $15 million/ £11.5 million, well in excess of the pre-sale low estimate for the entire three days (€12.9 million), with 95 % of the lots sold and 80% of the lots achieving price above or within estimates.

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