Charmed by it all

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Susan in the Winter Garden room.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021. Very cold in New York yesterday with temps below freezing, and the weatherman promising a winter storm today: snow, rain, sleet, depending on which part of the map we’re on.

Yesterday I went down to Christie’s on 49th Street at Rockefeller Center to see the exhibition of the collection of Susan and John Gutfreund’s furniture, paintings, silver, accessories which will to auctioned today and tomorrow, along with a collection of Susan’s jewels, many designed by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel.


IMPORTANT AND LARGE CHANEL RHINESTONE AND GRIPOIX GLASS PENDANT EARRINGS.
Estimate: $1,500-2,000.
IMPORTANT CHANEL SET OF GRIPOIX GLASS AND FAUX PEARL JEWELRY.
Estimate: $4,000-6,000.
UNSIGNED CHANEL FAUX PEARL AND BLACK BEAD NECKLACE.
Estimate: $2,000-3,000.
UNSIGNED CHANEL LUCITE AND RHINESTONE EARRINGS.
Estimate: $400-600.
IMPORTANT CHANEL SUITE OF CHARM JEWELRY.
Estimate: $3,000-5,000.
UNSIGNED CHANEL GRIPOIX GLASS AND LEATHER CHOKER NECKLACE.
Estimate: $1,500-2,000.
CHANEL GRIPOIX GLASS NECKLACE AND BROOCH.
Estimate: $3,000-5,000.
CHANEL FAUX PEARL AND RHINESTONE EARRINGS.
Estimate: $500-700.
Click to visit Susan and Karl: Important Chanel Fashion Jewelry from the Collection of Mrs. John H. Gutfreund

The Gutfreunds’ apartment at 834 Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park was one of the most spectacular apartments in the city — with its 20 rooms, a grand staircase, a 50-foot long living room, and fantastic collection of Old World Elegance in a décor created by the legendary French interior designer Henri Samuel.

DPC on the grand staircase of John and Susan Gutfreund’s hotel particulier in Paris.

Susan herself is a collector as well as an authentic Francophile. Her knowledge is impressive and intriguing. For many years the Gutfreunds also had a beautiful (as well as elegant) apartment in a Hotel particulier on the Left Bank in Paris. I don’t know who the interior designer was but the residence was ample and naturally elegant (with a magnificent, only-in-Paris staircase that announced the residence). Hubert Givenchy and his longtime partner Philippe Venet occupied the central part of the mansion. As it was in New York, the Gutfreunds entertained a wide variety of an international elite.

With Henri Samuel and her own design interests, Susan was obviously inspired in furnishing 834. They created an ambience that was both grand and welcoming. There is a lot of “grand” in New York apartments and mansions. Hundreds probably; maybe thousands. But welcoming, visually speaking, is another eye, another talent. Susan’s was both. Guests visiting for the first time were knocked out by the beauty and the artistry and splendor factors, and seconds later they feel “right at home,” to use our American expression about the French influence.


A view up the staircase leading to main reception room and master bedroom wing at Susan’s former apartment at 834 Fifth.
A pair of 19th century Russian chairs purchased in Paris sit below a stunning 19th century mirror from Denmark. The painted door panels were purchased from Henri Samuel.
A view of the Winter Garden room. Susan tracked down the early 19th century ironstone fireplace mantel from a photograph in a magazine.
Peeking into the dining room from the Winter Garden room.
Henri Samuel created the design of the curtains from an 18th century document. The pink under-curtain fabric was a gift from Karl Lagerfeld.
Stacks of books on art and design fill the upstairs landing. The bookcase is from Maurice Segoura in Paris.

John died after a long illness in 2016, naturally closing a chapter in Susan’s life. The Paris residence had ended some time before. In the past five years, she has continued to entertain at 834, including many receptions for various charities fund-raising that she’s involved with. It was a perfect apartment for entertaining not only the social set but also the “troops.”



Not being an interior designer, my interest in it is entirely how it “feels” to be in an inviting environment. When there is wealth there is naturally at least a hint of luxury, but without the physical and visual comforts, the feeling is indifference at best. The Gutfreund apartment, and one other apartment that belonged to parents of a college friend, are the two most memorable (grand) apartments I’ve seen and known in New York. They reflected their wealth of course, but also the arts, the international history, personality, and gracious luxury. This curious fellow whose own dwelling is simple and utilitarian 3 1/2 room flat was charmed by it all.


A LOUIS XIV ROUGE LANGUEDOC MARBLE BASIN, CIRCA 1700. THE SOCLE AND PEDESTAL OF A LATER DATE.
Estimate: $50,000-80,000.
A CONTINENTAL NEEDLEWORK FOUR-PANEL SCREEN, 19TH CENTURY.
Estimate: $5,000-8,000.
ONE OF A PAIR OF GEORGE III CREAM AND BLUE-PAINTED MAHOGANY SIDE TABLES; ONE BY INCE AND MAYHEW, CIRCA 1775, THE OTHER OF A LATER DATE AND ALMOST CERTAINLY SUPPLIED BY MALLETT, CIRCA 1970.
Estimate: $30,000-50,000.
Top: A LOUIS XV STYLE ORMOLU AND PORCELAIN HALL LANTERN, SECOND HALF 19TH CENTURY. Estimate: $15,000-25,000.
Left: A LOUIS XV GILTWOOD BERGERE, MID-18TH CENTURY. Estimate: $15,000-25,000.
Right: A LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD, BOIS SATINE, AMARANTH AND PARQUETRY AND MARQUETRY BONHEUR-DU-JOUR BY LEONARD BOUDIN, CIRCA 1765-70. Estimate: $12,000-18,000.
A FRENCH ORMOLU-MOUNTED GREEN AND POLYCHROME-PAINTED VERNIS MARTIN COMMODE BY MAISON JANSEN, 20TH CENTURY. Estimate: $5,000-8,000.
A GEORGE III MOORFIELDS CARPET DESIGNED BY ROBERT ADAM, CIRCA 1770.
Estimate: $100,000-150,000.
A LATE VICTORIAN CUT-GLASS AND ORMOLU ‘CRICKLITE’ CANDELABRUM BY CLARKE’S, LATE 19TH CENTURY.
Estimate: $1,000-1,500.
A FRENCH SILK AND WOOL NEEDLEWORK AND SILVER THREAD FIVE-PANEL SCREEN. THE NEEDLEWORK LATE 17TH/EARLY 18TH CENTURY.
Estimate: $60,000-100,000.
A LOUIS XIV SAVONNERIE BENCH-COVER NOW MOUNTED ON A LOUIS XVI GREY-PAINTED BANQUETTE. THE SAVONNERIE PANEL EARLY 18TH CENTURY AND DESIGNED BY JEAN-BAPTISTE BELIN DE FONTENAY (1653-1715), THE BENCH CIRCA 1775.
Estimate: $20,000-30,000.
A LATE VICTORIAN MOTHER-OF-PEARL MODEL OF ASTON HALL, BIRMINGHAM, LATE 19TH CENTURY.
Estimate: $6,000-10,000.
A GROUP OF SEVENTEEN FRENCH VELVET AND METAL-THREAD GAMING PURSES.
Estimate: $10,000-15,000.
A MASSIVE LOUIS XVI GREY-PAINTED CANAPE BY JEAN BAPTISTE LELARGE, CIRCA 1770.
This canapé was formerly in the collection of Vicomtess Dale de Bonchamps, who was a dazzling society figure and patron of the arts. She famously arrived at Baron de Rede’s Bal Oriental in 1969 dressed in a metal pagoda, which made it impossible for her to sit down.
Estimate: $30,000-50,000.
A LOUIS XV GREY-PAINTED BERGERE, CIRCA 1760.
Provenance: Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Thence by decent to her daughter Flora Whitney Miller.
Estimate: $3,000-5,000.
A NORTH EUROPEAN UPHOLSTERED SALON SUITE, MID-19TH CENTURY.
Covered in celadon and champagne silk, comprising: four arm chairs, two single arm chairs, four settees, and one ottoman.
Estimate: $15,000 – 25,000.
VENETIAN SCHOOL, 18TH CENTURY, Le forze d’Ercole (Estimate: $10,000-15,000) flanked by A NEAR PAIR OF LOUIS XV ORMOLU TWO-BRANCH WALL-LIGHTS, POSSIBLY GERMAN, MID-18TH CENTURY.
Estimate: $12,000-18,000.
A GERMAN OAK AND BEADWORK OCCASIONAL TABLE, BRAUNSCHWEIG, CIRCA 1740.
Estimate: $4,000-6,000.

Click here to visit The Collection of Mr. & Mrs. John H. Gutfreund 834 Fifth Avenue at Christie’s.

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