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Sotheby's Auction

A Celebration of Art Deco: Masterworks from the Collection of Dr. Stephen E. Kelly'

Sotheby's Auction

One of the Most Important Private Collections of
Art Deco in the United States

Sale Series Begins This December with Two Live Auctions Dedicated to the Collection, Together Offering Nearly 200 Museum-Quality Works Acquired by Dr. Kelly Over 30 Years


An Important and Unique Six-Panel Screen by Eileen Gray,
A Modernist Icon Signifying the Artist’s Pivotal Shift Towards Abstraction in the 1920s
Estimate $1.5/2 Million
An “Oiseaux” Low Table by Armand-Albert Rateau,
A Rare and Iconic Example of the Artist’s Masterful Animalier Sculptural Forms
Estimate $1/1.5 Million
A Monumental Luminaire Designed by Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann and Executed by the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory for the Historic Art Deco Ocean Liner SS Île-de-France
Estimate $250/350,000
L’Homme et son Destin, One of Gustave Miklos’s Most Complex Bronze Sculptures with Exceptional Provenance
Estimate $350/550,000


Sotheby’s Design Week Auctions in New York
Are Open for Exhibition by Appointment from 5-9 December

Evening and Day Auctions Dedicated to the Kelly Collection
Will Be Held 9 & 10 December

NEW YORK, 1 December 2020 – Sotheby’s is honored to present A Celebration of Art Deco: Masterworks from the Collection of Dr. Stephen E. Kelly across a series of sales beginning this December in New York as the centerpieces of our Design Week auctions.

A consummate collector and connoisseur, the late Dr. Stephen E. Kelly became enamored with Art Deco in 1982 while partnering with famed interior designers Jay Spectre and Geoffrey Bradfield to design the interior of his Upper East Side townhouse in New York. Built in 1915, the dazzling multi-floor townhouse simultaneously served as Dr. Kelly’s personal residence, ophthalmology office and art gallery. Acquired over the course of three decades, the Kelly Collection is remarkable for its superlative quality and comprehensive depth of exemplary Art Deco and modernist objects, with a special focus on design from this historic period.

The nearly 200 works on offer in December reflect Dr. Kelly’s longstanding passion and nuanced appreciation for French art and design from the 1920-30s. Featuring museum-quality masterworks by Jean Dunand, Jean-Michel Frank, Jean Goulden, Eileen Gray, André Groult, Gustave Miklos, Armand-Albert Rateau, Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann and more, these exceptional offerings celebrate Dr. Kelly’s renowned connoisseurship and passion for decorative arts and design across every medium, from furniture and objects to paintings and sculpture. Following the Evening and Day auctions on 9 and 10 December, Sotheby’s will present additional works from Dr. Kelly’s collection across a diverse array of online sales through 2021.

In a testament to Dr. Kelly’s philanthropic commitment to his alma mater, proceeds from the sale of the Kelly Collection will benefit the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Sotheby’s Design Week auctions will follow on the heels of our marquee December sale of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art, and coincide with our winter Festival of Wonder in New York. Sotheby’s Design Week exhibitions will be open to the public by appointment beginning 5 December through 9 December.

Jay Spectre and Geoffrey Bradfield transformed the top floors of Dr. Kelly’s Upper East Side townhouse to create a spectacular and celebrated modernist Art Deco apartment, complete with a two-story solarium that became an instantly recognizable area of the home.

Taken with the designers’ concept, Dr. Kelly continued to build upon this aesthetic by acquiring superlative French Art Deco furnishings, with a focus on pieces from 1918 to 1939. Dr. Kelly was especially drawn to the materials that defined the era, such as shagreen, parchment, lacquer, enamel, and exotic woods, as well as pieces with clean lines, bold shapes, and exquisite craftsmanship. Concurrent with his passion for collecting design, Dr. Kelly also developed a keen interest in paintings and fine prints from artistic movements that characterized the period, such as Cubism and Surrealism.

Over time, the collection outgrew the rooms in the townhouse, necessitating an expansion to accommodate Dr. Kelly’s voracious yet acutely discerning appetite for exceptional Art Deco objects. After retiring from his medical practice in 2016, Dr. Kelly converted the townhouse into a triplex with the addition of a fourth floor, which would later become the Kelly Gallery. The gallery flourished into an independent business, showcasing some 1,400 pieces of furniture, fine art, sculpture, silver, ceramics, metal work, and jewelry.

The December Evening sale features a curated selection of 50 masterpieces of Art Deco and modernist design that represents the pinnacle of Dr. Kelly’s connouisseurial eye, with singular examples by Eileen Gray, Armand-Albert Rateau, Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Jean Goulden, and Jean Dunand, among others.

An undisputed masterpiece by Eileen Gray leads this exceptional group: An Important and Unique Six-Panel Screen designed and executed between 1921 and 1923 (estimate $1.5/2 million). This modernist icon is one of few screens made by the architect and designer over her decades-long career and signals a pivotal stylistic shift in Gray’s oeuvre towards Abstraction in the 1920s. The subtle balance of lines, half circles and angles resonate with work produced by the neo-Constructivist avant-garde and creates an ensemble that harmoniously combines Symbolist and Modernist influences.

  • 05.12.2020 - 10.12.2020
    Auktion »
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus »

    5-10 December 2020

    A Celebration of Art Deco: Masterworks from the Collection of Dr. Stephen E. Kelly Evening Sale
    Live Auction 9 December at 5PM EST

    A Celebration of Art Deco: Masterworks from the Collection of Dr. Stephen E. Kelly Day Sale
    Live Auction 10 December at 10AM EST

    Important Design
    Live Auction 10 December at 2PM EST

    Dreaming in Glass: Masterworks by Tiffany Studios
    Live Auction 10 December at 5PM EST

    Linked In – Vintage Accessories for the Modern Man: The Collection of Dr. Stephen E. Kelly
    Online Auction 4-14 December

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