Sale of Qatari sheikh’s hotel treasures generates $75.4m for art charity

Items once owned by Marie Antoinette, Givenchy and Chanel go under the hammer

Sheikh Hamad Bin Abdullah Al Thani has raised millions through an auction of historic treasures for an art charity. Getty Images
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A member of the Qatari royal family has raised $75.4 million for an art charity after auctioning one of the largest collections of French decorative art ever.

Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani sold more than 1,300 items from his former property, the Hotel Lambert in Paris, in a series of auctions.

Among pieces sold at the auction were some that previously belonged to Marie Antoinette, Givenchy, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.

All the funds have been given to Sheikh Hamad's charity, the Al Thani Collection Foundation, which promotes art and culture.

The auction recorded the biggest sale of luxury French decorative art ever offered.

Sheikh Hamad bought the famous property in 2007 for a reported $90 million and restored it to its former glory, filling it with period furniture.

After a 10-year restoration programme costing a reported €147m, Hotel Lambert was sold to French telecom billionaire and art collector Xavier Niel recently for an estimated $226m.

The Hotel Lambert was designed by Louis XIV’s favorite architect, Louis Le Vau, who went on to design the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.

The auctioned items included pieces of art, jewellery and furniture spanning the 17th to 20th centuries, from Limoges enamels to pieces from Faberge, hardstone desk seals and mother-of-pearl fans.

One item offered was the Vision de Naples screen, an 11-panelled room screen created in 1923 by Jose Maria Sert.

Another was a pair of giltwood armchairs designed by Adams and built by Thomas Chippendale circa 1765, and a pair of gilt candelabra, circa 1750, once owned by Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV.

The hotel, which includes a gallery painted by Charles Le Brun, was declared a historical monument in 1862.

Located on Ile Saint Louis in central Paris, it was built in the late 1640s by financier Jean-Baptiste Lambert.

Over the years, the property has been home to the Czartoryski princes of Poland, the Rothschilds and Voltaire. It was said to be Chopin's favourite venue to play, and has also hosted Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Grace of Monaco and Brigitte Bardot.

Sheikh Hamad, who earlier this month was made a Fellow of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, is renowned for his art collections.

His pieces, known as the Al Thani collection, have been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions, including at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

His London residence, Dudley House, is a showcase for his many acquisitions and the late Queen Elizabeth II is reported to have visited and commented that it made Buckingham Palace look rather dull.

Updated: December 02, 2022, 1:43 PM
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