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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Heritage Auctions Offers Period Furniture and Lighting from the Michael Playford Collection

Significant Modern Design will take center stage in Manhattan on Dec. 10 when Heritage Auctions offers more than 300 period pieces of furniture and lighting from the collection of internationally renowned dealer and collector Michael Playford (Two Zero C Applied Art Ltd.) in its inaugural New York City auction of Important 20th Century Design, at 104 E. 25th St., 3rd Fl.

After more than 40 years dedicated to the decorative arts Michael has decided to refocus the direction of his already storied career and to relocate himself and his business to the Villa Il Baffo in Tuscany, Italy.

Michael’s collection, like his career, focuses intently on the finest of French Art Deco taste, but is as diverse as his career and interests. His intimate association with Japan is represented by a variety of exquisite Japanese objects of 19th and 20th century origin, many with direct influence on the French modern movement. Further diversity is shown in the sophisticated collection of African furniture and objects, which find a place in all the finest collections of French modern design and complement Art Deco superbly.

“The Playford Collection presents an extraordinary versatility of style,” said Christina Japp, Director of 20th Century Design at Heritage Auctions, “a quality Playford always insisted upon, and most have been carefully selected for practical use in interior design.”

The full day of auctions, divided into three sessions will include a comprehensive offering of more than 300 lots of pre and postwar design, the Schiller-David Dutch Modernism collection of Decorative Arts and a large collection of Lalique glass and works by Tiffany Studios.

Oscar Wilde once said, “I have the simplest of taste; I am always satisfied with the best.” In this, he might well have been talking about Michael. Only a handful of pioneers were comprehensively collecting French Art Deco and what is now known as Mid-Century Modern in the 1960s. This is an authentic lifetime collection of a standard that rarely comes to the auction market, compiled by a true pioneer of modern movement expertise.

“Michael was gathering the best examples of the forms when most antiques dealers would have scoffed at the idea,” said Japp. “He began scouring the flea markets of Paris, of his native London – and anywhere else he found himself – more than four decades ago, all in search of the furniture and objects mostly ignored by older dealers.”

By the 1990s Michael’s London-based Two Zero C gallery was a popular and familiar fixture at antique shows as far afield as Palm Beach, New York City and London, gathering a sterling reputation for presenting an impeccable selection of elegant finds carefully plucked from a variety of international sources. Playford’s meticulous eye for quality, combined with unlimited energy in the pursuit and discovery of extraordinary objects, along with his deep knowledge of the period, has earned him every accolade this business can offer.

“Among many accomplishments, he is credited as an extremely early promoter of the Finnish designer Alvar Aalto and his lesser-known British counterpart Gerald Summers, who exhibited his innovative plywood designs alongside Aalto’s laminated birch creations in the late 1920s,” said Japp. “He has also identified and attributed hundreds of previously anonymous pieces of French furniture and lighting through a combination of meticulous research and his unparalleled reference library, assembled over his entire career.”

What initially ignited Michael’s passion would later inspire and attract a new generation of collectors, all of whom came to admire him as a remarkable resource and a touchstone of style. Now those collectors will have a chance to acquire a part of his legendary collection.

“In many ways a great dealer or designer relies on that intangible quality, ‘taste,’ to define their success and attract clientele,” said Nick Dawes, consignment director at Heritage and a well-respected authority on 20th Century design. “Michael was fortunate to be born with Wilde’s ‘simplest of taste,’ and tailored it throughout his career as an international dealer.”

“For every piece that made it into my collection,” said Michael, “I probably rejected dozens.”

A sale of this type presents a unique opportunity to explore, sample and acquire the work of an extraordinary eye, a temptation Wilde would doubtless have found irresistible.

Carlo Bugatti, a very rare Pewter, Copper, and Painted Parchment Inlaid Walnut Firescreen, circa 1900: 37 x 39 x 12 inches. Designed for the bedroom of Cyril Flower, Lord Battersea, London. Estimate: $20,000 – $30,000.

Sue et Mare, an Inlaid Rosewood and Walnut Bed, circa 1920-1925: An exotic wood bed by Louis Sue and Andre Mare. Sue et Mare were the principal architects and interior designers of the Paris Exposition of 1925, the international exhibition from which the term “Art Deco” is derived. The Playford Collection is focused on French Art Deco taste. Estimate: $10,000 – $15,000.

Andre Groult, a rare Silk Upholstered Beechwood Armchair, circa 1911: Bearing heat stamped signature and the three roses marks, 41 x 29-1/2 x 28 inches. Estimate: $7,000-$10,000.

Marcel Coard, a very rare pair of Upholstered Armchairs, circa 1930: 31-1/2 x 35-1/2 x 30-1/2 inches. Estimate: $7,000-$10,000.

Extremely Rare African Throne Chair, Abomley Kingdom: Benin African furniture of this quality proved highly influential for French modernist designers and artists. The Playford Collection includes several unique examples. Estimate: $5,000 – $7,000.

Josef Hoffman Winged Armchair for Kohn and Kohn, Circa 1905: A stately and rare model by the most important Austrian architect and designer of the Vienna Secession. Estimate: $4,000 – $6,000.

Alvar Aalto Tea Trolley, circa 1936: A classic design by the important Finnish modernist architect and designer, represented in more than 30 lots of furniture and lighting. An identical model is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Estimate: $3,000 – $5,000.

Jean Dunand, “Roses et Fleurs,” a Lacquer Panel, circa 1925: Signed. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000.

Heritage Auction Galleries is the world’s third largest auction house, and by far the largest auctioneer of rare collectibles, with annual sales more than $700 million, and 450,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage’s auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit