An irreplaceable collection of mid-century, antique and vintage furniture and homeware, including the largest single-owner collection of Modernist and Postmodernist furniture to be offered in South Africa for over a decade, will be auctioned in Cape Town on 28 and 29 September.
The eagerly-anticipated The Prop House auction of some 1500 items comprises high-end movie props sourced by business and life partners Tess Wolpe and Will Hinton. The collection’s total value is estimated at around R5 million.
Designer furniture includes numerous original (plus high-end replica) items by Mies van der Rohe, Eileen Gray, Arne Jacobsen, Charles and Ray Eames, Le Corbusier, Ron Arad, George Nelson, Mackintosh and the Memphis Group. Smaller designer items span Alessi homeware, contemporary lighting and Murano glass.
The Prop House was founded 20 years ago when Wolpe and Hinton, already established in the British film industry, left London in 1998 with three containers’ worth of mainly 1950s, 1960s and 1970s collectables. They opened a 250m² Cape Town prop outlet in Paarden Eiland, geared at a niche market of international film companies in search of authentic, high-quality items.
Renowned as astute collectors with an unerring eye, the couple grew The Prop House with local and international acquisitions. Soon it became the first port of call for art directors, stylists and film-makers.
“All good things must, however, come to an end,” said Alf Duncan, owner of Alf Duncan Auctioneers. “As Tess and Will are retiring from their business, we have been entrusted with their emporium stocked with exceptional items.”
“Our favourite piece is a multi-coloured, Postmodern, Carlton room divider created by Ettore Sottsass in 1981 for the Memphis Group, an Italian design and architecture group working in Milan,” said Wolpe and Hinton. “They will never make one again, ever – and we would love this statement piece to become part of a fine contemporary interior.” The divider could sell for R60 000-R80 000.
Iconic 1950s chairs include a black leather Egg chair and ottoman with manufacturer’s label by Arne Jacobsen, which could receive bids of R40 000-R60 000; and a red Coconut chair designed by George Nelson and manufactured by Vitra (R15 000-R25 000).
Examples of fastidious workmanship include a completely original 1980s black leather Rover chair (combining a car seat with a structural tubing frame) that launched the career of British industrial designer Ron Arad, estimated at R40 000-R60 000; and an Eileen Gray lacquered screen valued at R15 000-R25 000.