Madonna’s Chair May Fetch 1 million dollars in Design-Art Sale

Marc Newson's "Lockheed Lounge" aluminum chair, once used by Madonna in a video clip, will be among the lots providing London auction houses' first test of the market for "design art" in 2009.

The futuristic riveted lounger was featured in the 1993 video of the star's single "Rain," said the Phillips de Pury auction house. It is expected to fetch as much as 700,000 pounds ($1 million) tomorrow.

"It's the seminal piece of contemporary design," Kenny Schachter, a London-based dealer in contemporary art and design, said in an interview. "Everything in the market is measured against this. It's traded as regularly as an IBM share."

Demand for cutting-edge furniture created by leading architects and designers such as Newson, Ron AradZaha Hadid and the Campana Brothers has cooled after price rises during the recent contemporary-art boom.

The chair, one of four artist's proofs, failed to sell in 1999 at Christie's International in London when it was offered with an estimate of 35,000 pounds to 50,000 pounds.

Another version of the Australian-born, London-based designer's 1988 limited-edition divan ignited the auction market for contemporary furniture in June 2006 when it sold at Sotheby's, New York, for a record $968,000. Another pushed the record up to 748,500 pounds at Christie's, London, in October 2007.

Sotheby's first sale in London focusing on "design art" was held in October 2008. Only half of the 46 lots found buyers.

Price Estimates

"The market for cutting-edge design has paralleled the contemporary-art market," Alexander Payne, Phillips de Pury's head of design, said in an interview. "Buyers and sellers have been affected by the wider economic picture. We have to edit sales and only offer rare, fresh works that are conservatively estimated."

Estimate levels for "design art" have yet to mirror the 30 percent to 50 percent declines seen at contemporary-art auctions in the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

Phillips's auction includes two pieces of resin furniture by Hadid dating from 2006. Both were sold in editions of 12 by the London dealers Established & Sons. Hadid's black "Aqua" table is expected to fetch up to 120,000 pounds, while her "Gyre" lounge chair has an upper valuation of 50,000 pounds. Other examples sold at auctions in the U.S. in early 2008 for $217,000 and $84,000 respectively, said the art and design price database Artnet.

The first of Phillips's two annual design sales at Howick Place, near London's Victoria station, is expected to fetch between 2.7 million pounds and 3.8 million pounds from 168 lots, the auction house said. The equivalent event last April, containing 78 more lots, carried a smaller valuation of 2.4 million pounds to 3.3 million pounds.


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