Legendary Hollywood interior designer William “Billy” Haines had not only a glittering client roster — Joan Crawford, Jack Warner, Betsy Bloomingdale, the Reagans and the Annenbergs — but also a devoted one.
On Sunday, Los Angeles Modern Auctions will auction more than 30 custom Haines designs commissioned in 1960 for a home at 1015 N. Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills by Rita Roedling, the stepdaughter of filmmaker and Haines client Mervyn LeRoy. The home furnishings are being sold by Anita May Rosenstein, Roedling’s daughter and the granddaughter of Tom and Anita May of the May Department Stores Co., who were champions of Haines’ work.
“He did the entire interior, which was never published,” said Peter Loughrey, director of the auction house. “It’s also an intact commission, with the original finishes, upholstery fabrics and lampshades, which is very rare. For people who care about seeing exactly how it was made in 1960, this is how Haines wanted it all to look.”
Among the pieces: a fern print-covered sofa (estimated at $4,000 to $6,000) and a matching piece with a backless, armless section (estimated at $5,000 to $7,000), two lacquer-topped coffee tables with walnut legs (estimated at $5,000 to $7,000 each), three swivel stools (estimated at $1,500 to $2,000 each) and a yellow Chinese pottery table lamp (estimated at $1,200 to $2,000).
Loughrey, who has sold Haines designs since the 1980s, expects the bidding to rocket past the estimates, even on higher-ticket items, such as a pair of cane-backed red leather lounge chairs valued at $15,000 to $20,000. In October 2013, he sold a pair of Haines-designed lounge chairs from the Jack Warner estate for $43,000.
“Haines’ clients were among the wealthiest, and as a designer he had a great eye for color, materials, scale, proportion and comfort,” Loughrey said. “I’ve always said that I think Haines’ work is as important as any of the great European decorators like Jean Royere and Jacques Emile Ruhlmann, whose work sells in the six figures. He made very specific things with great quality in a very limited supply, and by comparison, his prices are incredibly reasonable.”
The auction preview is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m through Sunday at the Los Angeles Modern Auction showroom, 16145 Hart St., Van Nuys. (323) 904-1950, www.lamodern.com.