Karl Lagerfeld’s penchant for exceptional furniture from the 20th and 21st centuries will be on full display over the next six months when Sotheby’s hosts eight auction sales in Europe for a collection spanning more than 1,000 items.
The sale of Karl Lagerfeld’s estate will also include fine art, collectibles, tableware and personal objects, including household linens, his three Rolls-Royces, more than 200 pairs of fingerless gloves, piles of Goyard luggage, a weathered Chanel tote in black croc, and a selection of suit jackets by Dior, Saint Laurent, Comme des Garçons and Martin Margiela.
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Lagerfeld’s closet on the Quai Voltaire in Paris resembled a men’s wear showroom with its endless racks of black jackets, while the apartment was a showcase for furniture designs since the year 2000, including a metal Zenith chair by Marc Newson, expected to pull in 40,000 to 60,000 euros, and a sleek console by Martin Szekely estimated at 20,000 to 30,000 euros.
Sotheby’s said the items “offer an anthology of his personal taste…illuminating the fashion titan’s life as a designer, decorator, photographer and collector.”
Among the unusual lots are a pair of chrome Aston Martin dumbbells, a set of silverware by Art Deco jeweler Jean Després, a bell jar containing a tall stack of white collars, and a set of Champagne buckets in the guise of paint pails by Maison Martin Margiela.
Artworks include the “Dom Pérignon Balloon Venus” by Jeff Koons, estimated at 20,000 to 30,000 euros; a 2014 portrait of the late designer by Takashi Murakami expected to fetch between 80,000 and 120,000 euros, and a ceramic and crochet sculpture by Joana Vasconcelos titled “Choupette,” the name of Lagerfeld’s beloved pet cat, estimated at 5,000 to 7,000 euros.
Paid handsomely by Chanel, Fendi and others throughout his unprecedented fashion career, Lagerfeld lived lavishly and played house on a grand scale: A villa in Biarritz, and apartments in Rome, Berlin, New York and Monaco, one in the latter city famously decorated entirely in Memphis furniture. He was an early Memphis enthusiast and at the forefront of the Art Deco, Biedermeier and Vienna Secession revivals, among others.
Yet Lagerfeld never remained attached to possessions for long. “I find the joy of collecting, the fun of hunting for objects, the exciting thing,” he once told WWD. “But once I [win] it, I lose interest. I don’t want to be a curator living in a museum.”
He jettisoned his collection of 18th-century French furniture and artworks at Christie’s in 2000, netting $28.5 million, to pursue a more contemporary decor — forests of white orchids and sleek Christian Liaigre sofas — at his longtime Paris residence on the Rue de l’Universite. And when that lavish town house went up for sale, Lagerfeld packed up and in 2006 moved to the expansive, loft-like apartment on Quai Voltaire he likened to a high-tech incubator.
He downsized his portfolio of residences in the years before his death in February 2019, saying he preferred to stay in hotels when traveling, such as the Mercer in New York. In Paris, he also had an apartment, filled to the rafters with books, on the Rue des Saints-Pères.
The collection up for sale spotlights his lifelong interest in designs by Louis Süe and André Mare, whose Compagnie des Arts Français produced Art Deco furniture and interior decorations. Among the items by them on offer are armchairs, coffee tables, a desk and a vanity table.
According to Sotheby’s, the Pavillon de Voisins in Louveciennes near Paris, the last home purchased by Lagerfeld, took its cues from his German roots.
“The decor harks back to the grand designs of the turn of the 20th century and creations of 1920s Germany, notably featuring designs by fellow countrymen such as Bruno Paul, set alongside early 20th-century German advertising posters which he had collected for over 30 years,” Sotheby’s said.
Among other artists represented in the sale are Konstantin Grcic and Maarten Van Severen for contemporary design; Georges Lepape, a French fashion designer, poster artist, engraver and illustrator from the 1930s, and Ludwig Hohlwein, a poster and graphic designers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Synonymous with dark suits and sunglasses, a high white shirt collar and his jutting white ponytail, Lagerfeld became a brand in himself, and this is reflected in lots of his likeness: figurines by Italian maker Tokidoki, a row of Karl cutouts doing the can-can by French cartoonist Tiffany Cooper, and Fendi keychains and iPhone cases.
Auctions are scheduled for Dec. 3 to 5 in Monaco; Dec. 14 to 15 in Paris;,and in spring 2022 in Cologne, Germany. There are two online sales sessions, the first from Nov. 26 to Dec. 6, and the second from Dec. 6 to 16.
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One of the most prolific, admired and multitalented fashion figures of the modern age, Lagerfeld was most closely associated with Chanel, where he was couturier since 1983, engineering one of the modern fashion industry’s first and most successful brand rejuvenations and propelling the fabled French name from near obscurity to the summit of international luxury.
He was also the creative force behind the furs and ready-to-wear at Fendi for more than half a century, of Chloé from the Sixties into the Nineties and of his signature fashion house, which over the years encompassed everything from designer clothing and jeans to fragrances, hotels and NFTs.