Tuesday, March 14, 2023. Cold and raining in New York yesterday, although the setting the clocks ahead mean the daylight runs longer, which I like.
We got a notice from Hindman Palm Beach announcing the Palm Beach session of a private collection of the late Fred A. Krehbiel and his wife Kay Krehbiel. Although I am not a collector I could see from the items and the history of those items, that there is no doubt an interesting story, or rather, interesting people.
I did not know Mr. and Mrs. Krehbiel although I find interior auctions (with their elements/furniture, etc.) fascinating, as the elements speak for their owners. Palm Beach houses are potentially interesting because of the wealth and what their choices that convey, or don’t as well as the stories that emerge about the owners.
In the case of the Krehbiels, here’s a photo of them in their prime. They appear to be a very pleasant man and woman. Bright and interested. I don’t know their personal history but there is also an auction of the properties in Chicago, which was their main residence.
There are more than 170 lots from their Palm Beach house at 135 El Vedado, being presented this Thursday March 16th. It is the second chapter in the story of a carefully designed home and of a life well-lived.
The Krehbiels began building their collection with English furniture. Eventually they began collecting more French and Italian furniture, decorative art, and fine art. They also worked closely with their interior designer Imogen Taylor (who worked at the renowned Anglo-American design firm founded by Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler).
They worked closely with her to design the 11,300-square-foot Cuban Colonial-style house interiors which feature a range of unique elements such as a chequerboard floor from a monastery in Southern California. The result was a stunning property reflecting the Krehbiels’ passion for discovery, decorated with Venetian and French objects from their travels.
Fred Krehbiel, I learned, founded a company called Molex out in Lisle, Illinois where they make products for the global electronics industry. 45,000 employees. He transformed the business into a global organization with locations in over 40 countries.
Besides building his company, Mr. Krehbiel’s international vision was reflected in the refinement of his homes in Chicago, Palm Beach and Ballyfin, an important Irish country house and demesne of circa 1820, and now a hotel that has garnered international recognition and media attention.
“We have many wonderful memories of the Palm Beach house, with many family holidays hosted there – Easter luncheons, Thanksgiving dinners, and New Year’s Eve Parties,” commented Jay and Liam Krehbiel, Fred and Kay Krehbiel’s sons. “The simultaneously luxurious and comfortably decorated home was the canvas for so many memories, and we see the interiors as reflecting the best that my parents worked on with Imogen.”
Highlights of the Krehbiel Collection Part II (Palm Beach) include an Italian specimen marble and carved white marble table (lot 1025; estimate: $10,000 – 15,000); a pair of north Italian Neoclassical bronze mounted polychrome painted armchairs (lot 1136; estimate: $8,000 – 12,000); and a north Italian Rococo polychrome painted cabinet on stand (lot 1134; estimate: $6,000-8,000). Rare objects to be offered also include a George III ‘Blue John’ urn (lot 1049; estimate: $3,000- 5,000) and a north European brass and polychrome painted bird cage (Lot 1080; estimate: $2,000 – 4,000).
The art offering will be highlighted by works such as a set of five paintings in the manner of Claude Joseph Vernet (lot 1004; estimate: $8,000-12,000) and a set of twelve hand-colored engravings of parrots from A Natural History of Uncommon Birds by George Edwards (lot 1031; estimate: $6,000 – 8,000).
Their interior designer, Imogen Taylor commented about the collection: “Fate was very kind the day I first met Fred Krehbiel and then went on to design and decorate five or more houses for him and his wife and sons over many years. Fred was the best client any designer could have as he had a great passion for houses, furniture and objects, but allowed me great freedom to try new ideas …. Working with him and Kay, buying furniture, choosing fabrics, travelling internationally with them, was not work but a great pleasure. He taught himself so much about the subject and it was a great learning curve for me too. I hope all their beloved treasures find happy homes.”
Here’s a little taste of the Krehbiel collection up for sale …
How to Bid & Preview Times
Bidding for the March 16th auction will begin at 10am ET and will be available in-person at Hindman’s Palm Beach saleroom (1608 South Dixie Highway) and online via the Digital Bid Room. Preview of the auction will be available from March 10-15. Additional details on the auction can be found here and the digital catalogue can be viewed here.
Part I of the Krehbiel collection will be presented on March 15 in Chicago, and Part III will be presented online on March 17 online. Additional information on Part I can also be found here.