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Notebook work to home On the Market An expert offers a glimpse behind the scenes of one of the world’s premier auction houses—and her tips for affordable collecting Written by Kari Molvar Photographed by Tara Striano O ne hundred forty-two million four hundred thousand dollars. That was the price of the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction, Francis Bacon’s 1969 triptych Three Views of Lucian Freud, purchased last month at Christie’s New York. But Carina Villinger, head of the auction house’s 20th Century Decorative Art & Design department, insists that not all lots go for such outrageous sums. “You can find amazing pieces at auction that start at just a few hundred dollars,” she explains. “And often items are sold without a reserve [the lowest price a seller will accept for an object sold at an auction], so you can even pick up a Le Corbusier sofa for a relatively small amount”—a reference to the tan leather LC2 that fetched the shockingly reasonable price of $500 at a Christie’s Interiors sale last July. Or consider the scarlet Chinese lacquer-and-gilt cabinet that went for $625—far lower than its estimated price of $3,000 to $5,000—at another sale there this fall. Since arriving at Christie’s in 2004, Villinger has acquired an array of pedigreed objects for the auction house, including those from the private collection of The Roxy co-owner Steven Greenberg (who was fanatical about French Art Deco) and industrial architect Jean Prouvé (whose prefab house, La Maison Tropicale, was fully assembled and auctioned off at the foot of the Queensboro FROM NEAR LEFT Artist Sol LeWitt’s abstract mural Wall Drawing No. 896, Colors/Curves, which was commissioned for the lobby of Christie’s New York in 1999. Carina Villinger, head of the auction house’s 20th Century Decorative Art & Design department. 72 Lonny WORK 73
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