Few would deny that Richard Caring’s new, giant-sized Annabel’s at number 46 Berkeley Square is better suited to the high-flying, multinational clientele driving London’s luxury club scene today than the original – which was created two doors down in 1963 by the late Mark Birley and maintained its legendary status for half a century.
But many still believe Birley’s incomparable style, masterful touch and effortless elegance will never be bettered. And, if you’re among them, there’s a chance to own a bit of that Birley magic on Tuesday November 20 when Christie’s London will offer more than 250 items from the “old” Annabel’s in a landmark auction that will include lots estimated from as little as £50 to as much as £120,000.
And, for those who never walked down the famous staircase into the bohemian basement leading to the other, opulent world of number 44, the auction presents one last opportunity to do so, as the pre-sale view, from November 16 to 20, will take place on the premises prior to the main event at the King Street headquarters of Christie’s.
Items range from modern British, old master, 19th-century and Victorian paintings and drawings to cartoons and vintage posters, together with glassware, silver and lighting – almost all of it personally selected for Annabel’s by the famously perfectionist Birley.
Especially evocative of the club’s golden era are a red velvet corner sofa (£2,000-£4,000) and the serene Bodhisattva from the celebrated Buddha Room (£10,000-£20,000) – while, for those who really want to relive the good old days, there will be the chance to bid for three complete Annabel’s table settings for eight (£1,000-£1,500) – comprising chairs, a circular table with lamp, cutlery, glassware, napkins, salt and pepper condiments – and the all-important toast rack.
Among the more valuable paintings that have hung on the walls of Annabel’s for decades are one of the final portraits by early-20th-century artist Glyn Philpot of his manservant Henry Thomas (£80,000-£120,000), William Orpen’s Night and William Nicholson’s The Cenotaph, the Morning of the Peace Procession (£50,000-£80,000 each), which depicts the original wood and plaster memorial created by Edwin Lutyens in 1919 before it was replaced with the permanent Portland stone version the following year.
A George III silver soup tureen by the celebrated 19th-century London silversmith Paul Storr, which was used extensively in the club’s private dining room, should sell for an estimated £8,000-£12,000, while multiple lots include batches of crystal champagne coups, sets of bar stools, mirrors from the bar itself and items of Limoges tableware.
The sale will also include a small selection of items from Harry’s Bar – established by Birley in 1979 – as well as German photographer Christian Voigt’s evocative last shot of the old Annabel’s interior, taken before its closure. Estimated to fetch £5,000-£8,000, the proceeds from the sale of the image – together with money raised from 10 framed Richard Young portraits of well-known Annabel’s members such as Jack Nicholson, Diana, Princess of Wales and Elizabeth Taylor – will go to the charity For the Good of All Children.