An auction of French furniture has realised more than thirty-two million French francs (7,040,000 U.S.?
CU Notice of Sotheby's auction PAN DOWN TO people arriving. (2 SHOTS)
GV INTERIOR: Prospective buyers examine offerings. (5 SHOTS)
CU Cabinet clock and auction in progress.
GV Crowded auction room.
CU Son of vendor, Mr. Ojjeh.
CU Section of buyers
CU Stavros Niarkos.
CU Sothebys Chairman Peter Wilson knocks down cabinet for 7,600,000.
GV Crowded room, applause for sale.
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Background: An auction of French furniture has realised more than thirty-two million French francs (7,040,000 U.S. dollars) for the Saudi Arabian multi-millionaire, Akram Ojjeh. The highest priced article was a Louis the fifteenth Rococo corner cabinet, for which an unidentified buyer paid seven million six hundred thousand francs (1,700,000 U.S. dollars). The furniture, known as the Wildenstein Collection, was sold to Mr. Ojjeh two years ago by the Wildenstein family of New York. Mr. Ojjeh had planned to display the furniture on the luxury liner, S.S. France, which he purchased at the time and sold privately in Paris to a Norwegian buyer on the day of the auction.
SYNOPSIS: Most lots were sold to Western and United States buyers; there being no apparent interest from the Middle East. Museums took a back seat during the two day sale.
The auction attracted an audience of tycoons, jet-setters and show business celebrities. The Chairman of Sothebys, Mr. Peter Wilson, conducted the proceedings. He described the furniture as "quite exceptional" and said there would never be a comparable sale again. Although the Wildenstein Collection is recognised as one of the world's finest collections of French furniture, the Louvre and other French Museums made no attempt to claim their preemption right over successful bids, which exists under customs agreements between France and Monaco.
The prize offering, the Louis the Fifteenth Rococo corner cabinet, festooned with golden cherubs and topped with an Ormolu clock. Mr. Ojjeh's son was among observers, as was the shipping magnate, Stavros Niarkos. But attention was focused on the auctioneer, Mr. Wilson, as he accepted the final bid.
The collection was amassed between 1912 and the early 1960s by three generations of the Wildenstein family, who lived in New York.