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Warhol, Basquiat,…Neutra?: Kauffman House Sale Positions Architecture as Art

kauffman.jpgEarlier this month, we told you that Christie’s will auction off the legendary Richard Neutra-designed Kauffman House on May 13, as part of its major evening sale of postwar and contemporary art. For those planning on bidding, the house is Lot 42–sandwiched between a 1987 Richard Prince joke painting and a Damien Hirst butterfly canvas (and my, but those dead butterflies would look smashing in Palm Springs).

In last weekend’s Financial Times, the front page of the House & Home section was given over to Edwin Heathcote‘s piece on the Kauffman House as art and the burgeoning market for modernist architecture. He rolls around the issue with the help of the Kauffman House’s current owners (Brent and Beth Harris), Pritzker Prize jury chair Lord Palumbo, Andre Balazs (who recently bought a Maison Tropicale by Jean Prouve), and Avanti Architects’ John Allan, an experienced conservator of modernist buildings:

[Allan] raises reservations about buying houses as if they were art-objects: “The issue is to do with houses as collectors’ pieces, as distinct from the value of the land they sit on,” he says. “My only reservation is that if these houses are sold as art they may cease to be functioning buildings. . . An attic full of houses that no one sees or uses is a bad thing.” And does he see art/architecture as a burgeoning market? “The demand for these houses is fairly limited, but so is the supply. The issue is connecting the right buyer to the right house.”

Recently on UnBeige:

  • Hey, Isn’t That the House from the J. Crew Catalog? (April 11)
  • Kahn’s Esherick House on the Block (March 26)
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