Northern Ireland

Eileen Gray chair could fetch millions at New York auction

Sirene chair
Image caption Eileen Gray's Sirene chair which is up for auction in New York

How much would you be prepared to pay for a chair? Does £1.8m sound about right? If so then get online tonight for the auction of an armchair by Irish designer Eileen Gray in New York.

It is one of two pieces made by the leading 20th-century designer which are expected to sell for a combined estimate of more than £3m.

But the fine art auctioneers Christie's say that is a conservative estimate. They believe the armchair could reach "tens of millions of dollars".

Last year, in Paris, a single chair by the County Wexford-born architect and furniture designer was sold by Christie's for £19m.

The Dragon Chair (Fauteil aux Dragons), which belonged to the couturier Yves St Laurent, was sold in February and had been expected to make around £3m.

The chair to be sold at Tuesday's auction in Manhattan's Rockefeller Plaza is called Sirène and is described as "a lacquered and painted beech armchair".

Art Deco

It was made in Paris between 1917-1919 and, according to the catalogue: "This imposing armchair, with its symbolist figurative motif, its sensual lines and rich lacquer surface, exemplifies the first chapter of Eileen Gray's career, as a creator of luxurious and exotic furnishings."

The second Eileen Gray item in the Christie's auction is a screen, made in 1923 from painted wood panels, which has a top estimate of £600,000.

Eileen Gray was born in Enniscorthy in 1878. She became an architect and lived for most of her adult life in France where she was a leading figure in the Art Deco design movement.

She died, aged 98, in Paris in 1976.

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