Los Angeles – Bonhams was honoured to present property from the Estate of celebrated talent agent and Hollywood hostess, Sue Mengers during its summer auction of Fine Furniture and Decorative Arts in Los Angeles on June 11-12. In its entirety, the two day sale brought more than $2.35 million and featured an array of works for varied tastes and collecting levels from the 16th through the 20th centuries, with a focus on French and Continental properties throughout all sections of the auction.
Highlights from the June sale included a stunning Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted kingwood vitrine attributed to Guillaume Grohé, third quarter 19th century (est. $7,000-9,000, sold for $122,500; an important carved marble bust titled "America" by Hiram Powers, one of the most important sculptors of the 19th century (est. $10,000-15,000, sold for $92,500); an imposing pair of 4 foot tall Sèvres style earthenware gilt bronze mounted covered urns (est. $12,000-18,000, sold for $41,250); a French gilt bronze and champlevé jardinière on stand attributed to F. Barbedienne foundry, Paris (est. $15,000-20,000, sold for $37,500) and a Meissen pâte-sur-pâte and paint decorated porcelain plaque from a Bel Air, California Estate (est. $4,000-6,000, sold for $27,500).
Andrew Jones, Los Angeles Director of European Furniture and Decorative Arts at Bonhams said of the sale, "The summer auction featured a strong balance of 16th-20th century furnishings, porcelain and decorative arts from around the globe. Bonhams was delighted to offer collectors a unique opportunity to bid on property from noted Collections and Estates including works from celebrated Hollywood talent agent Sue Mengers."
For decades, Mengers was one of the entertainment industry's most powerful agents, earning a reputation as a skilled negotiator and strong rival as well as a trailblazer for women in a male-dominated field. Mengers represented a "Who's Who" of Hollywood during the 1960s-1980s, including such luminaries as Candice Bergen, Faye Dunaway, Brian De Palma, Steve McQueen, Nick Nolte, Burt Reynolds, Cybill Shepherd, Barbra Streisand and Gore Vidal.
This summer, Bonhams offered an exclusive look inside the private world of Sue Mengers.
Like the guests at the soirées for which Mengers was so well known, the interior of the home was an eclectic mix of cultures, ages and styles that was assembled over a lifetime with her husband, noted Belgian filmmaker, Jean-Claude Tramont.
Upon entering the larger than life "Pullman doors" of Mengers' John Elgin Woolf designed Beverly Hills home, visitors were greeted by a near life-size Flemish Baroque carved walnut figure of a strolling minstrel, 17th/18th century (est. $8,000-12,000, sold for $9,375), affectionately referred to as "walnut man."
In the Living Room where Mengers would often hold court, the furnishings included a diverse range of antiques with a focus on the traditional yet naturally modern lines of the Neoclassical era, such as an Empire style parcel ebonized burl ash commode, late 19th century/early 20th century (est. $4,000-6,000, sold for $3,500). Yet rather than large scale paintings gracing the walls, there was a preference for the warmth and texture of wall-hangings, such as a Beauvais landscape tapestry, late 17th century, by Philippe Behagle (est. $10,000-15,000, sold for $8,750) and a pair of Napoleon III Aubusson entre-fenêtres, third quarter 19th century (est. $5,000-7,000, sold for $10,000).
The Dining Room, host to numerous legendary yet intimate luncheons, also hosted an important Chinese huanghuali altar table that highlighted the Mengers' section of the summer auction (est. $20,000-30,000, sold for $22,500) against one wall, while her celebrity guests sat on a set of six Louis Philippe carved walnut side chairs, second quarter 19th century (est. $1,200-1,800, sold for $1,375) using the late George III sterling silver part flatware service, William Eley and William Fearn, London, 1806 (est. $4,000-6,000, sold for $6,375).
The more private rooms were an eclectic mix of styles and included a George III carved beechwood armchair in the manner of John Linnell, fourth quarter 18th century (est. $2,000-3,000, sold for $4,375); a Charles and Ray Eames laminated walnut and leather lounge chair and ottoman, mid 20th century (est. $1,500-2,000, sold for $3,750 ); an Art Nouveau carved walnut chaise longue attributed to Louis Majorelle, early 20th century (est. $1,500-2,000, sold for $3,500) and a ceramic plaque titled "Face with curves" by Pablo Picasso, 1971 (est. $1,200-1,800, sold for $1,750) as well as a diverse range of fine art, silver and Asian furniture and decorative arts.
About Sue Mengers
After retiring as an agent in the late 1980s, Mengers remained as powerful and influential as ever. Her salon-like gatherings of "twinklies," as she called them, brought together a mélange of Hollywood's elite – from legends of the Silver Screen to young up-and-comers, not to mention the occasional buttoned-up entertainment executive. These fetes at her Beverly Hills home, long among the most coveted invitations in town, were among the last remnants of a glamorous age of Hollywood that today exists only as a myth.
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com