So many of you contacted me to express your interest in the discovery of the rare Gabrielle Chanel ‘Russian’ tunic which we sold last week with Maurice Auction in Paris, that I wanted to ensure you heard the final result.
The dress had been stored away in a box in the attic of a French chateau. With capacious castle attics and spare rooms there had never been the need for a ‘clear out’ and so thankfully generations of family relics were left undisturbed. Traditionally, fine art such as paintings, silver and furniture appear on family inventories, but old clothes, textiles, lace and costume jewellery usually do not. Its most recent chatelaine, however, made it her task to go through the trunks and boxes just to ascertain the contents which is when, thankfully, she contacted me. As soon as the email hit my inbox I recognised the tunic, cross-referenced it with my extensive magazine archive and was on the phone to her in seconds!
On the day of the auction, I confess that this was for me the most eagerly anticipated lot. The very last lot in the auction - two telephones tensely battled it out from 10,000 euros and within minutes the price escalated to ten times that, with the gavel falling at 100,000 euros (130,000 with taxes and premium). I immediately picked up the phone to my seller (who had not been following the sale that day) to give them the news. The initial reaction was stunned silence! After recovering from the pleasant shock my client stated,
‘I am extremely grateful to Kerry Taylor for reaching out to me so quickly and for sharing her knowledge and excitement for this piece. My family and I are thankful that both our ancestors and we, ourselves, preserved this historically important Chanel garment for the last 100 years and that going forward it will be properly appreciated, conserved and exhibited by its new owner, for future generations to study and admire’.
Lot 147, an important Gabrielle Chanel couture Kitmir embroidered 'Russian' tunic, 1922, sold for 130,000 euros including fees and taxes. Left: the design illustrated in British Vogue, early March 1922.