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October 19, 2012

In our September entertaining issue, we profiled the one and only Murray Moss, New York design impresario and "ringmaster" of the over-the-top, irreverent design objects with high price tags. At the time, we couldn't mention that Moss's imminent auction of design-art pairings would be held at the venerable Phillips de Pury. Now that all is said and done with the auction, which raked in over $5.5 million, we know exactly what Moss was thinking by pairing the likes of a Campana brothers' stuffed-animal armchair with Christopher Winter painting of Alpine children. We also know that rare Hella Jongerius pottery is more lucrative than a chair, or even a custom Polder sofa. More details in our slideshow.

Gio Ponti's illuminated wall organizer from 1950-1953 graced Murray Moss and Franklin Getchell's own Midtown home. One of the top ten lots in the Phillips auction held October 16, it fetched $86,500.
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We spotted more than a few oglers in front of Lot 79, a set of flatware for twelve. The whole lot, which sold for $43,750, is appealing both as a curated assortment and a survey of modern design, comprising place settings from the likes of Jean Nouvel, Angelo Mangiarotti, Enzo Mari, Achille Castiglioni, and Josef Hoffmann. Moss relates the collection to salesmen's sample sets from the early 20th century. "I've never understood the 'rule' that everything on the table should match—certainly that is never the case with the guests (diversity is the norm when planning a good dinner party!)."
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The Giant Prince vase was made by designer Hella Jongerius in 2000, only one of four. The $86,500 sale price was the highest one recorded for a Jongerius piece. Referencing how she ignores traditional means of applying decoration to ceramic (in this case, "stitching" it), Moss says, "It is to me an extremely important and profound work and the piece I love most in this sale."
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The Teddy Bear Banquete chair by Fernando and Humberto Campana symbolizes the gold rush era of the mid-2000s—Moss's heyday, you might say. In fact, this chair was commissioned by Moss for its holiday 2004 store window. "This exclusive edition was limited to 20 pieces and it sold out entirely," recalls Moss. "Franklin and I kept No. 1 of the edition, offered here, for our personal collection."
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This giant oil-on-canvas painting by Doug Argue, titled Randomly Placed Exact Percentages (2010), was paired with Mario Bellini's Stardust sofa during the Phillips de Pury auction.
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The fourth and sixth top sellers from the Moss auction, respectively, were Maarten Baas's Grandfather Clock Veneer from the "Real Time" series (2009) and the Robber Baron floor lamp (2007) by Studio Job. Totemic in proportion but very different in execution, the clock is (like most of Baas's work) a tongue-in-cheek nod to the past while the floor lamp is a "surreal, highly expressive furnishing" meant to evoke the excesses of America’s 19th-century tycoons and Russia’s new oligarchs.
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Moss Ponti WallOrganizer
Gio Ponti's illuminated wall organizer from 1950-1953 graced Murray Moss and Franklin Getchell's own Midtown home. One of the top ten lots in the Phillips auction held October 16, it fetched $86,500.

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