Christie’s needs no introduction. This auction house, one of the world’s most famous, is known by its centenary experience and international glamour. Since its founding in 1766 by James Christie, this renowned company has orchestrated some of the most illustrious auctions. Each year Christie’s holds an average of 400 auctions, dispersed over 80 different categories, with a focus on paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, jewelry, photography, wines, and collectables. Auctions featuring Picasso, Mondrian, and Warhol’s paintings are some of their most well-known sales. Christie’s also specializes in the field of private sales with highlights in Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters, and Jewelry.
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Out of the Ordinary, one of the most peculiar of Christie’s auction categories, celebrates the singularity of the unconventional and incorporates some of the most intriguing items in human history. The most recent Out of the Ordinary sale took place this past September in South Kensington, London. It was a remarkable event for the whimsical Portuguese furniture brand Boca do Lobo with one of its emblematic pieces, the Symphony Sideboard, amongst the collection of exclusive and rare items up for auction. This was the culmination of a great journey for Boca do Lobo and a celebration of its 10 year journey defining trends. The Symphony Sideboard was chosen for being, without any doubt, a charismatic piece of art. Throughout its design and prototyping process, the designers carried out extensive research visiting and studying several Portuguese churches and their pianos in order to honor Portuguese legacy and tradition.
CovetED Magazine spoke with Kate Summers, associate specialist and Head of Sales, to find out more about her experience and motivation for working at Christie’s, while also taking a glimpse at the best of the Out of the Ordinary auction.
Regarding your academic background, can you tell us about how you found your passion for history and arts?
My interest in the arts began during my degree in History of Art and Museum and Gallery studies at Leeds University. I was fortunate enough to gain internships at the Rothschild house Waddesdon Manor and another leading auction house before an internship at Christie’s. I then left to work for an antiques dealer, gaining valuable experience on `the other side’ and in sales to the base of exclusive private clients and decorators. This eventually led to a return to Christie’s as a specialist.
According to your vision and your experience, what makes Christie’s one of the most famous and exclusive auction houses? What’s unique about it?
Christie’s offers such a range of works of art and prices of furniture, from the quirky through to masterpieces by blue chip artists. We hold auctions in our twelve salerooms around the world, as well as regular online-only auctions at christies.com and a private sales service. Across these platforms, and all the categories that we offer, Christie’s caters to our clients all around the world, whatever their interests.
To be auctioned in this category, each piece must have “out of the ordinary” features. Considering that, how do you select an item to be auctioned?
A team of specialists work together to curate this annual sale and we are looking for rare, exciting, and unexpected pieces. It’s a fun sale to put together and we are always excited when the catalogue arrives so we can start sharing it with clients, new and established.
In your opinion, what’s special about the Out of the Ordinary sales category?
This is the third year that Christie’s is offering an Out of the Ordinary auction, celebrating all things unusual and unexpected. The sale allows us to offer a really eclectic selection of fascinating items, it’s truly unique.
Which were the most charismatic and remarkable furniture pieces ever auctioned?
At Christie’s South Kensington we hold interiors sales every month, which offer fine art, furniture, and decorative objects in virtually every style from antique to contemporary. Lots are attractively priced, starting from £800, and there is a piece for every taste. Christie’s has also offered some of the finest pieces of furniture to ever to come to the auction market, such as The Badminton Cabinet, which was sold in 2004 for £19 million.
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One of the pieces highlighted in the most recent Out of the Ordinary sale was the Symphony Sideboard from Boca do Lobo, which was featured in the film 50 Shades of Grey. How do you describe this piece of furniture and what impact did it have on the auction?
The Symphony Sideboard is a dramatic piece, I can see why it was chosen for the 50 Shades of Grey film as it is has a striking cinematic quality to it. Although contemporary it is very nicely made with high quality materials and construction. It would be a show stopping addition to any interior!