Dear Diva Readers,
top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 100px; line-height: 90px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>An Antiques Diva reader recently asked my advice. She had gone to an auction at Amsterdam’s newest – and hottest – auction house, Gavelers, and had purchased a dazzling Italian chair with which she’d fallen head over heels in love. And while she felt she had scored a prize at auction she wanted my expert opinion. “What do you know about Joe Colombo?”
“The boss of the Colombo crime family” I asked, not giving her time to interrupt. I love a good murder.
“Rumor has it that this Godfather was an ardent Catholic. They say that when a thief stole a jewel-studded crown from his church that Colombo found the criminal and forced him to return the crown and that later the thief was found dead with a rosary wrapped around his neck.” I excitedly explained, “Reportedly it was Colombo’s work.”
“Er… Interesting…” she responded, “But I meant the Italian designer,”
I detected that she seemed more than a little freaked out by my mafia knowledge. “Too much Soprano’s” I quickly explained, and then confessed that I wasn’t an expert on this particular period. “But what is your stomach telling you?” she queried, “I paid 1500E – do you think I got a good deal?” My first instinct was to answer in the affirmative, but while I may not be an expert on mid-century design, I know people who are!
My first call was to my tours/abouttours/” target=”_blank”>Antiques Diva Tour Guide, Lucretia.
I must confess Lucretia is the brains (as well as beauty) behind my tour operation in the Netherlands and Belgium and I knew she’d be quick with an answer. “Great buy!” she confirmed, as she went on to explain, “The name of this chair is officially: Painted plywood chair 4801 and it was made in 1964 in Italy by Joe Colombo.”
Since a mutual friend works at this auction house, she encouraged me to reach out to Gavelers and ask their opinion on the chair. One email was sent and forwarded onto the right party and before I could go search for a cannoli (all this Godfather talk was making me hungry) Marcel Brouwer, the 20th Century Design Specialist at Gavelers, had responded to my email, providing a bit more behind-the-scenes info on this purchase.
Brouwer explained, “This particular chair was manufactured by Kartell and has been made out of three pieces of laminated bentwood. What was so amazing about the chair – apart from its reasonable purchase price (the white example has been sold at DOUBLE that amount before) – is its condition. Due to use, these wooden chairs normally have been worn quite a lot, specifically on top of the seat. It is rare to find an example which is not repainted. This particular chair had its first and only original paint layer. The client who bought the chair had a very good deal since vintage furniture of well-known designers, icons of the 20th century, in pristine condition will always be desirable.”
Special thanks to Marcel Brouwer of Gavelers for filling in the gaps on this client’s query. Next time I’m going to auction, I’m going to Gavelers!
Going, going, gone, ciao, ciao!
The Antiques Diva®
(seen below on vacation in the Amalfi coast)