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Hamptons Life

Jun 3, 2019 2:46 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Decorators-Designers-Dealers Sale Is Not To Be Missed

French country dining table in French cherry with parquetry top and coordinating breakfront being considered by several attendees early on in the sale. Everything sold in this beautiful vignette including the place settings and accessories. DANA SHAW
Jun 3, 2019 2:46 PM

The Southampton Fresh Air Home held its annual Decorators-Designers-Dealers Sale and Auction Benefit Gala on Saturday at the home’s beautiful facility. The mission of the Fresh Air Home is to provide a unique and caring residential camping experience for physically challenged children. This is the Fresh Air Home’s 118th year, and the 26th annual D-D-D Benefit Gala. And what a grand gala it was!

Using the home’s various cottages and tents, designers and dealers created vignettes featuring literally thousands of donated items. These included antiques, fine reproductions, contemporary pieces, china, crystal, upholstery and every conceivable type of accessory. The variety was mind boggling, and the speed at which some of the early arrivals sped through, buying things, was truly impressive.

At first, I thought I was looking through a retrospective of my past. In fact, two silver-leafed tole lamps with matching shades were items I designed over 20 years ago! Then there were the large impressionist-style oil paintings by Mia, a Korean artist who was represented at the gallery I ran in the late 1970s, and the fine English furniture pieces that reminded me of my time with Mannheim Galleries in New York.

Although the items in the sale were not given descriptions or attributions (just a price), I recognized Donghia furniture, Smith & Watson casegoods, Knoll Studio tables, a Karl Springer lacquer entertainment unit—a veritable treasure trove of fine design and antiques. According to the preview catalog, more than 100 individuals and dealers donated things to this sale, which explains the variety and uniqueness of the vast selection on display.

There was, for example, a 19th century French dining table with chairs and a breakfront. The table was set for dinner, with large orchids as the centerpiece. This was a good example of French Provençal furniture, somewhat dark from years of polish and age, in French walnut woods with a parquet top and cabriole legs.

It sold quite quickly, at a very reasonable price. Indeed, the dinner service and decorative all-white accessories also sold fast, although to a different buyer than the furniture.

There was a gorgeous 19th century Aubusson rug in a setting that featured a French portrait in gilded frame and mahogany sideboard, along with antique pillows and gold-leafed lamps.

In addition to things French, there was a significant English or English-style antique presence, including a leather-topped partners desk in burled walnut with original hardware, tufted chairs, sofas and ottomans, mirrors, chandeliers, and art. The condition of all the pieces was excellent.

Just to give an idea of what a reach this benefit has: I was observing a gentleman buying a carved medieval-style headboard, which he did in, like, three minutes, because he was prepared with his cards and sales number, which he stuck on the headboard before dashing to the next cottage and repeating his quest for unique objects.

I spoke with him briefly—Ronald Greenwald, owner of Greenwald Antiques, from Cleveland, Ohio, of all places—and he said he wouldn’t miss this D-D-D Benefit for anything! He was very happy with his “finds,” and I presume the benefit committee will be very happy he attended the sale.

Of course, there was wicker and rattan, all in good shape, most with some age, but some with significant age, like a loveseat, chair and table that probably date to late 19th or early 20th century.

And there was a lot of one-of-a-kind whimsy to be found: an Indian door with images of Ganesha, a canopied dog bed, and a trumeau mirror with a romantic painting inset above the antique mirror. Then there were American country signs, baskets, pottery, small furniture, children’s furniture, even an antique carved cat with hand-drawn whiskers.

There were so many categories, I lost track; fortunately, the design committee had displayed like things together, as in the white bookcase showcasing things with a shell/coral motif, pillows, tureens and bowls. My goodness, there was even a unique table-top jukebox!

So, what did we learn? Next year, I’m registering in advance and going as a participant/buyer. I would recommend this venue and others like it to those who like estate sales, yard sales and auctions.

The reasons are many, but, in brief, this sale represents antiques and fine reproductions in a multitude of categories that have been donated by reliable and well-known decorators, designers and dealers—so you know there is value here. The condition is also a big factor, and all that I saw was in excellent condition. The pricing couldn’t have been more attractive, in terms of not needing to think deep or reach deep into one’s pocket. Everything was extremely well-priced and priced to sell.

In the live auction that followed the furniture sale, there was a vintage Louis Vuitton steamer trunk ($4,000 opening bid), paintings, vintage wines and jewelry.

Like Mr. Greenwald from Cleveland, I wouldn’t miss this sale event—it was a truly magical experience.

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