Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Man of Mystery


When I was in a used bookstore the other day, I found this Sotheby's New York auction catalogue, dated October 26, 1990.  I admit that the auction catalogues that intrigue me most are those which feature interiors on the cover, and this particular interior especially intrigued me.  The room was very elegantly appointed, and yet, quite cozy looking too.  The catalogue cover had me wondering just who the collector was who had lived in such refined surroundings and amassed such refined pieces.

Unfortunately, the catalogue did little to answer my question.  The auction title itself, "Property of a European Foundation", implies that the collector, or perhaps his foundation, wished to maintain a certain amount of anonymity.  The catalogue's introduction, written by Derek Ostergard, did little to lift the veil of secrecy, with Ostergard referring to the man in question simply as "a contemporary collector" who was noted for "his degree of connoisseurship". 

One clue is that the auction and its catalogue were given the designation, 6078 "Weltkunst".  A Google search shows that there is a Weltkunst foundation, not to mention a German decorative arts magazine titled Weltkunst.  Perhaps there is a connection?  Also, the back cover of the catalogue featured an illustration of the drawing room, which appears to have been decorated for Christmas.  The illustration is reminiscent of those by Serebriakoff, although the artist's signature, partially visible in the bottom right corner, shows that it was not done by Serebriakoff.  And one more thing: the interiors have a number of Colefax & Fowler flourishes, including a trefoil-shaped ottoman and Bowood chintz in the drawing room and a Rocksavage-like print carpet in the guest bedroom. (I can't tell if it's actually Rocksavage or a similar print.)

If you know who the collector was, I would appreciate it if you would let me know.  Even if I never get the bottom of this, this much I do know: the collector was a man of great style and taste.


The Drawing Room







The Master Bedroom to the left and Guest Bedroom to the right




The Library




Colonel George Fergusson Henry Bey at the Sultan's Court by Guillaume Francois Gabriel Lepaulle, 1846, was one of the lots that was auctioned off.



Another view of the Drawing Room




A Vieux Paris Porcelain Centerpiece, Samson White Biscuit Mantel Clock, and two French porcelain boat-form inkwells, also featured in the auction.




A Five-Piece Chinese Blue and White Garniture set, Kangxi; this lot must have been displayed in the collector's library, don't you think?



An important Louis Philippe Four-Fold Silk Royal Tapestry Screen, Gobelins, c. 1830




An Italian Neoclassical Ormolu-Mounted Mahogancy Bookcase, early 19th century



23 comments:

  1. Jennifer, I don't have access to my notes at present, but I can tell you that the apartment currently belongs to my friend and former Parish-Hadley co-worker, David Klienberg. A glimpse at the present decor may be seen in a post of The Devoted Classicist:

    http://tdclassicist.blogspot.com/2011/08/david-kleinberg-man-on-move.html?m=1

    If I ever knew this owner's name, it is escaping me at the moment. The next owners were from Nashville and hired Denning & Fourcade to decorate, so they are ruled out as the designers here, although it is somewhat in their style, no?

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    1. John, This is most helpful! Kleinberg's current version is most elegant and refined, though in a much different way from the traditional decor seen here. It would be interesting to see the Denning & Fourcade version for the sake of comparison.

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    2. The D & F version is coming up in the near future on TDC. My stack of unfinished essays is getting too big, but (fortunately) I've been busy with my "other job."

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  2. Anonymous10:10 AM

    I have his same catalogue, and was always curious as to who the owners where. I do know that the interiors also appeared in AD during the 80's.Another that you might like is Christies,NY
    Important Furniture and Objets d'Art: The Property of a European Foundation, 18 October 2002

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    1. Anonymous, thank you for the tip! I will try to find a copy of the 2002 Christie's catalogue.

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  3. Anonymous10:14 AM

    How amazing! Beautiful decor.

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  4. It always evokes an Agatha Christie air when auction houses do this, as in "Property of a Lady" or "From the Collection of a Knighted Gentleman;" a late Edwardian graciousness and mystery...

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  5. Anonymous11:47 AM

    Dear Jennifer,

    Beautiful post. In reference to your 11/11 post about Caspari's, are they affiliated with Stacie Caspari, the decorative painter?

    Lisa D.

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  6. this is stunning + blue & white..amazing. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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  7. Unbelievable post! What a beauty!
    Don't miss the beautiful wainscot, crown molding, door and entry hall in blonde Biedermeier wood!! (faux???) Gorgeous; all of it!!!

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  8. Anonymous5:44 PM

    It was the apartment of my friend Harry Bailey. He and I were at Sotheby's together and then he went off to be a private art advisor most notably to Basia Johnson. Harry sadly was one of the early victims of AIDS. His partner was Adrian Ward-Jackson who also succumbed to the disease and was a great friend of Princess Diana. She attended his funeral and was given a tremendous lambasting by the Royals (as well as much of the public) It was through her friendship with Harry and Adrian that she became interested in, and a great supporter of HIV study and helping to find a cure.

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    1. Anonymous, A sincere thank-you for your comment. Based on the photos alone, it's obvious that Mr. Bailey had great style, which was supported by his knowledge and his connoisseurship.

      With appreciation,
      Jennifer

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  9. How completely sickening. I remember when AIDS first reared its ugly head; and so many truly talented and gifted were lost. And quickly. Yay for Diana! How dare they lambast her. Thank God they did find successful treatment; really, quite quickly in the scheme of things.

    I guess that was "faux" blonde wood.......I do not know how anyone could have painted over it!!
    Thank God he kept the "chinoiserie" library....which is now the dining room!

    I have ordered that catalogue! Thank you! What a treasure!

    Fascinating how different the same space can look!

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  10. Anonymous9:23 PM

    Breathtaking decor. I'm simply bowled over by the beauty of it all.

    B

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  11. The cover of the Sotheby's catalogue is simply amazing! I'm always impressed by your breadth of knowledge and access to such beautiful publications.

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    1. Well said!!!I I must say; I think this is as good as it gets! this lovely layered look!!! ..the colors......the whole thing.....I will be studying beyond!!
      thank you so much for another great post!!

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  12. The rather ravishing Denning and Fourcade iteration was featured in an Architectural Digest some time ago, but I cannot find the issue.

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  13. Jennifer, I just came upon your blog and as soon as I saw the photos, I knew right away who the original owner was. Harry Bailey was my Uncle. He had amazing taste in art. Walking into his flat was like walking into a museum. Because of him, I have a love of art as well. He did die a tragic death, I really miss him. Thank you for bringing back some nice memories for me. Nancy Bailey

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    1. Nancy, Thank you for commenting. Every now and then, I pull the auction catalogue from my book shelves and pore over the interior photos. Your uncle's apartment must have indeed been sublime.

      Jennifer

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  14. I confirm that the apartment belonged to and was decorated by my uncle, Harry Ward Bailey. Harry was a man of great taste! The watercolor of the drawing room was painted by myself, and I presented it to Harry as a gift shortly before his death. I also had the good fortune to have participated in re-decorating the walls of the small black and gold room, taking inspiration from the antique chinese cabinet (the walls had been previously painted a mustard yellow). This was the very first mural decoration project I did with mural-painter Harry Gremillion (he also died of AIDS in 1986). Meeting H Gremillion changed the course of my life, since I left the U.S. in 1983 to pursue our collaboration in France, where I have lived ever since. I'm still active in the decorative arts, doeing watercolors of interiors for private home-owners and decorators, mural paintings and decorative lighting. (web site- www.jeffrey-bailey.odexpo.com)

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    1. Jeffrey, I greatly appreciate the additional information that you and Nancy provided us. Talent and a keen eye obviously run in your family. Both the gold and black room mural and the watercolor are testament to your talent! I will certainly visit your website to see more of your work. Also, many thanks for the info on the AD issue that features the apartment.

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  15. Dear Jennifer and commenters,
    The issue of AD in which you'll find the article on my uncle's apartment is May 1983...

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