Expert Art Deco & XXth siecle, leleu, Ruhlmann, printz
INTERVIEW BEVERLY HILLS TIMES MAGAZINE October 2008 By Suzanne Takowsky PHILIPPE MORATEUR : Finding Art & Treasure in the Antique World FINE ART... SCULPTURE... FRENCH DECO PHILIPPE MORATEUR Treasure Hunter to the Stars Some guys have all the fun ... and international art dealer and expert Philippe Morateur is one of them. Every day his world is filled with beauty, history and incredible art treasures valued in the millions. I interviewed Morateur at his L.A. home, a Paul Williams masterpiece that keeps with his passion for historically rich architectural design. His main residence is in France, where he was born and raised. These days, Morateur works primarily with auction houses, returning to Europe regularly to value auction pieces and shop for priceless art and exquisite deco articles for clients. Over the years Morateur has earned a reputation for excellence and honesty within his profession, granting him access to venues off limits to other art dealers. The world is Morateur' s market, and through his international contacts, he gets a foot first in the door at historic hotels and restaurants, many selling vintage wares to make room for modem pieces. Our conversation lasted hours, and as late afternoon approached, we enjoyed incredible views from his balcony of the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Park Observatory, both surrounded by the glitz of lights twinkling from mansions nestled in the Hills. Morateur offered a tour of his world and at every turn was a magnificent deco piece he brought from France to enjoy. I found myself in awe over a Picasso Peter Pan painting and a million dollars worth of furniture in the living room alone! ST: You are a foremost authority and collector in French deco period pieces. What attracts you to that era; 1925-1960? PM: In France, 1925 was an important period of change for furniture. Prior to 1900 it was the " Kings Spirit " period, and furniture was heavy, carved, and gilded. After 1900, furniture modified to a " boxy " deco sideboard style-pieces of wood and doors. It was a furniture revolution and deco was a rare find. France has had many political uprisings. Valuable pieces were burned and destroyed, making what was left very much in demand. A designated member of numerous prestigious appraisers associations in the United States, Morateur is frequently asked to be an expert witness for U.S. and French auction houses and museums. For his own business, Docantic.Inc, he locates and purchases the most desired French deco articles in the world for the wealthiest and most diverse clientele any art dealer could dream of. Fond memories include the day Dame Elizabeth Taylor walked into his showroom in France. She was simply " captivating," he recalls. Ralph Lauren was another VIP shopper. Requests for special items arrive daily. One call came from a high-end designer in New York to locate a one-of-a-kind desk for rap music impresario jay-Z. Although Morateur found one, as fate would have it, the rare piece ended up in another connoisseur's office. No ordinary desk, this one sold for $350,000. ST: You gather valuables from old hotels and restaurants. Why not estates? Who parts with antiques? PM: French estates and castles hold " King Spirit " furniture decor. It's in old hotels and restaurants that I find the beautiful French deco articles in. Sadly, many hotels, and restaurants redecorate to a more modern look to keep up with the changing times,. Deco sideboards, enormous chandeliers, magnificent desks, sculptures, desk lights, chairs, dining tables, coffee and end tables, owners want the old out to make room for the new. They don't know the value of what they are giving up, and don't seem to care. Once a banker in France, Morateur gave it up 20 years ago for a career in art, which is not that unusual; in his banking days, when things got rocky in the stock market, he advised clients to invest for big returns in what else? : ART. As a list of investors grew, so did his art career. Although Morateur took art classes in his youth, he down plays his own talent, aknowledging that of his father and grandfather, both opera singers who sketched in their spare time. ST: Is French Deco popular in the u.s.? PM: Yes, of course! For several years, collectors and dealers in the United States have been interested in French Deco and that interest has increased greatly over the past 15 years. Keeping that in mind, what is of interest in New York is not the same as in Los Angeles. All the major auction houses contact me to consign pieces for their auction sales in Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, Madrid, Paris and Zurich, among others. In each house I purchase for a distinctive client taste, depending on east or west coast. In addition to offices in Paris and the U.S., Morateur has a showroom on Robertson Boulevard, in Los Angeles. Access to the greats ... Eugene Printz, jean Michel Frank, Alexandre Noll, Picasso, Diego & Alberto Giacometti, jacques Adnet, jules Leleu, j.E Ruhlmann, Gio Ponti, Hans Wegner, Baccarat, Lalique and Sabino, among others, is no problem for a man who travels throughout Europe at the drop of a collector's dime. "It's not good to clutter a room with too many pieces," says Morateur. "Two or three favorites blended with smaller, less expensive items draws attention to those that you are most proud of."