From Georgian times until the past 20 years or so, Country House Sales were a relatively frequent occurrence. We all loved them because they offered the perfect mix of fabulous pieces across the board with a wonderful provenance. For those selling, a single auction or series of auction provided them with catalogues of the events that could be kept as family mementos. For buyers, it was the chance to nose around a grand home and perhaps pick up something decent that had the gloss and glamour of aristocratic connections.
These sales were relatively commonplace between the end of the Second World War and the late 1960s, when homes that had been turned over to the military were restored to those who could no longer afford to keep or renovate them.
In recent years, such sales have been rarer, although we were delighted to host one in June at Selham House.
Now, however, what promises to be the ‘Country House’ sale of the decade has been announced: in fact it is the sale of the contents of eight homes, all belonging to the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, who died in 2019.
Although his personal style was one of restrained flamboyance, limiting himself to black and white in his own dress, Lagerfeld’s lavish tastes found magnificent expression in his homes.
From traditional sets of porcelain and antique sculpture to the most contemporary of modern art, the designer’s possessions seem to have no limit. In true country house fashion, items for sale cross a very wide expanse, from furniture and elaborate works of art to handbags, glassware and clothing.
Goodness knows how much money all this will take, but the auctioneers should make a pretty penny simply from selling copies of the catalogues, which will immediately become collectors’ pieces themselves.