LOS ANGELES — The parcel and polychrome dolphins that belonged to Coco Chanel’s pal Misia Sert, actress Ina Claire’s ruby velvet sofa and the leopard tabouret that once sat in Elsie de Wolfe’s Versaille home are all up for sale (at $6,000, $3,500 and not given at press time, respectively) when Christie’s drops the mallet here on interior-design legend Tony Duquette’s collections March 12-14.
For the last half of the 20th century, Duquette dressed the homes of Elizabeth Arden, J. Paul Getty, the Duchess of Windsor, Greta Garbo and many other bold-faced names in his signature eclectic aesthetic, mixing the organic with the exotic. Neighbor Sharon Stone was among the last with whom he collaborated before his death at age 85 in September 1999.
His baroque touch wasn’t limited to the home front. He designed interiors for the Mocambo nightclub, the Los Angeles Music Center and many film and theatrical sets. He received a Tony Award for designs on the first Broadway production of “Camelot.”
Duquette was also a sculptor. He was the first American with a solo show at the Pavillion Marsan at the Louvre Museum in Paris, and the seashells and gilded finishes that decorated his furnishings emerged in his elaborate necklaces and other jewelry.
“Beauty, not luxury, is what I value,” Duquette one said.
The Los Angeles native started out as a visual merchandiser at Bullock’s in Beverly Hills, when Elsie de Wolfe, the first lady of American decor, discovered him in 1940. Soon after, his fantastical vision was turning up in the homes of Mary Pickford and David O. Selznick, among others.
The Christie’s sale includes many items Duquette amassed for himself and his wife, Elizabeth, whom he affectionately called “Beegle.” There is sculpture, Old Master paintings, Asian art, rugs, porcelain and European furniture from the 17th through the 20th centuries. Duquette’s penchant for faux leopard skin, coral, Venice and the France of Louis X and Louis XVI are represented.
Other objects were once owned by his famous customers, including William Randolph Hearst, Baroness de’Erlanger and Agnes Moorehead.
More than 1,500 lots from four of Duquette’s residences will be on the block taking place at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, Calif. Viewing opens to the public on March 9.