Bonhams Auctioneers Add Lustre to Christmas With £1.86-Million Savoy Sale

. December 23, 2007

The Savoy Sale – a three-day auction of 3000 lots of furniture from the world-renowned London hotel – was concluded late last night (20 December 2007) by international auctioneers Bonhams with an auction total of £1,857,096. This was almost twice the pre-sale estimate.

savoy-erez.jpgOver the course of three 12-hour days, over 3,500 people from across the world chose to bid on a little piece of history from one of the world’s best-loved hotels. Many came to bid in person, some of whom had decided to take “a trip down memory lane”, having spent their honeymoon, 21st birthday party, wedding reception or a special weekend break at the hotel in the past.

Over 5000 people paid £30 for a Bonhams sale catalogue, indicating a phenomenal interest in the auction. Over the three days bids flooded in from as far away as South America, the Far East and Australia. A multitude of private individuals bought; as did hoteliers, interior designers, and party-planners.

The first day of Bonhams’ Savoy Sale opened to crowds of eager bidders wanting to walk away with the ultimate hotel souvenir. There was standing room only in the Savoy’s famous Thames Foyer as Robert Brooks, Chairman of Bonhams, took to the rostrum to start the three-day sale.

The ‘Savoy effect’ was evident from the start as items regularly fetched up to ten times their pre-sale estimates. Lot 1 achieved the first round of applause when the large garden urn from outside the main entrance of the hotel, estimated at £400 – 600, made £2,640.

Further highlights of the three-day sale included:
Lot 68 – A pair of mid-20th century chandeliers sold for £19,200 (estimate £10,000 – 15,000).
Lot 1325 – A walnut, burr walnut and ebony strung breakfront bookcase by David Linley sold for £18,000 (estimate £2,000-3,000).
Lot 67 – The David Linley five panel wood marquetry screen sold for £15,600 (estimate £3,000 – 5,000).
Lot 97 – A white Grand Piano, played by Frank Sinatra on visits to the hotel, made £11,400 (estimate £2,000 – 3,000).
Lot 74 – The Beaufort Screen – a large 12-panel trompe l’oeil screen by Lincoln sold for £10,800.
Lot 152 – A large oak parquet dance floor from the Lancaster Room sold for £5,040 (estimate 400 – 600) to London-based party planners, Bentley’s Entertainments.
But it was the smaller items picked up by individuals who had a romantic association with the hotel which helped to boost the price of almost every item. For example a chrome wall-mounted ash-tray (estimate £50 – 70) was knocked down for a staggering £650. The pair of art deco birch and satinwood wall mirrors (estimate £600 – 800) made £10,800 and three umbrella stands from the Gents W.C outside the River entrance, (estimate £60 – 80) made £700.

Harvey Cammell, Bonhams Director of the Savoy Sale and Furniture specialist said:
“We always knew that this sale was going to be special and different, but frankly we have been astonished by the response to the auction. The regular applause says it all. The world has a love affair with the Savoy. That much is evident. The sale has been helped in no small measure by the media interest from around the world, which filled column inches, radio and TV air-time in countries as far apart as Brazil and China for the past three months.

“We have had hotel groups bidding for collections of chairs and tables alongside individuals decorating their homes. The effect of the Savoy name was highlighted by the sale of lot 223 – a Rosewood serving counter from the hotel’s fitness gallery, emblazoned with the name Savoy in chromium-plated letters. Bidding for this particular lot were as many as 12 people in the room chasing the £300 – 500 estimate to an incredible £9,000.”
Dotted amongst the hoards of bidders in the saleroom each day were celebrity faces from the worlds of sport, film, theatre and music for whom the Savoy has been a home from home.

Ten Bonhams auctioneers worked in rotation to spare their voices over three 12-hour days to get through the 3,000 lots. To save time, bidding frequently started at the low estimate but despite this, the sheer volume of bidding lengthened the sale of each item by minutes, as prices soared above expectations.

Category: Auction News

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