Antoni Gaudi church bench beats estimate by 184%

A walnut church bench designed by Antoni Gaudi has sold for £341,000 ($415,338) at Christie's London.

It smashed its estimate of £120,000 ($146,520) by 184.1% in the October 26 Historic Design sale.

Gaudi bench church
Gaudi built 25 benches for the church at Colonia Guell

The piece is one of 25 benches Gaudi designed for the crypt of the church at Colonia Guell, on the outskirts of Barcelona.

Only 20 have survived, 17 of which are in permanent museum collections.

Gaudi's longstanding patron, Count Eusebio Guell i Bacigalupi, commissioned the church for workers at his textile factories.

Work started in 1908, but over the years Guell's funds dwindled and by 1914 the project was abandoned.

Only the crypt was completed. You can still visit it today.

The 25 benches can be split into two distinct groups - the original 20 made from recycled shipping crates and the five fashioned from whatever wood was lying around.

The present lot falls into the latter category.

Demetre Chiparus' Thais (circa 1925) realised £221,000 ($269,178), up 47.3% on a valuation of £150,000 ($183,819).

The statuette stands at just over 22 inches tall and is a classic example of Chiparus' art deco styling.

It's based on the eponymous novel by Anatole France (published in 1890), which later became a popular opera.

Chiparus was a Romanian sculptor whose work focuses on dancers. His price point has advanced significantly in recent years, with the value of his most sought after pieces edging towards the $1m mark.

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