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 Sothebys
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 Balkanys 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.
Yesterdays 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 yesterdays results, Mario Tavella, Président-Directeur Général, Sothebys France and Chairman, Sothebys Europe said: The two top lots of this evening - the Borghese-Windsor Cabinet and Charles Clays organ clock are testament to Robert de Balkanys 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.