Tony Duquette rocked the casbah; now it’s at auction


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A glamorous globetrotter’s fantasy room designed in the late 1990s by Tony Duquette and Hutton Wilkinson will be reassembled in Los Angeles for public ooh-ing and aah-ing before the contents hit the block at Bonhams & Butterfields’ 20th Century Decorative Arts auction on Oct. 5.

‘It was a difficult room, with doors and windows in all the wrong places,’ Wilkinson said of the commission, ‘but it did have a tall, peaked ceiling we wanted to play up. A tented room was the answer, hiding a multitude of sins and making an exciting casbah for entertaining.’


The room was draped in a coral branch fabric printed in Jaipur, India, and featured signature Duquette designs: streamlined banquette sofas, an Asian-style altar table painted vivid coral, wall sconces made from iron and automobile hubcaps (to be auctioned in sets of four and estimated at $3,000 to $5,000), and a leopard-print rug about 9 feet by 12 feet (estimated at $1,000 to $1,500).

And what exactly are those unusual seats in front of the Moroccan side tables?

‘The eccentric chairs represent the peacock throne of Shiva,’ Wilkinson said of the intricately detailed metal pieces, right, which balance on the legs, head and tail feather of a stylized bird. A set of four created in India for the room is expected to fetch between $5,000 and $8,000.

The piece de resistance, Wilkinson added, was the mother of pearl and raffia coral branch chandelier. ‘I made this with Tony specifically for this installation, and I have very fond memories of those days,’ he recalled. ‘He died on September 9, 1999, the day this room was being installed.’ That piece also, apparently, had sentimental value to the owners of the house for which it was created. It is not being offered for sale at the auction, but other Duquette pieces from various collectors are. Keep reading to see more photos as well as details of the public preview and sale ...

A black-painted wrought-metal settee designed in the 1960s by Tony Duquette is estimated to sell for $3,000 to $5,000.

Duquette’s Chinese birdcage chandelier, left, is estimated to sell for $2,500 to $3,500. A 15.5-inch mixed media Madonna figurine from the 1940s, right, is set on a mirrored base. Auction estimate: $800 to $1,200.

A free preview of the tented room, staged as it was originally conceived, will be open to the public noon to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday at Bonhams & Butterfields, 7601 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 850-7500.


-- David A. Keeps

Top photo: The tented room. Credit: S. Evans

Lower photos: Tony Duquette pieces. Credit: Bonhams & Butterfields


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