House clear-out nets designer £2.1m

A top designer and collector whose clients include Michael Jackson has pocketed over £2m after holding what was yesterday reported to be one of the UK’s largest country house clear-outs.

Keith Skeel said he had to detach himself from the sentimental value of over 4,000 antiques he put under the hammer from his private collection on Sunday at Loudham Hall in Suffolk.

Antiques snapped up ranged from silver lustre tea pots to a bronze fox statuette, raising Skeel £2.1million, following his decision last year to sell of his belongings inside the £6m home.

Quirkier treasures the designer parted with included a mahogany George III bookcase, which sold for £32,000, a commode from the same era which went for £27,000 and a ceramic pug dog found in London 22 years ago.

The high price tags of the items that were sold, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, never impressed Skeel, whose eye for antiques has enhanced the collections of Donna Karen, Michael Jackson and Barbara Streisand.

Skeel told auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull that the price of items never governed his purchase, rather he spent three decades acquiring pieces which were “sublime with a hint of the ridiculous.”

He said: “I chose my pedigree pugs in the same way I buy my antiques. I would always be drawn to the runt, as it stood out from the rest and nobody else appreciated its value.

“The irony is that for many years, there was abundance of runts from which to build my collections. But over the years, this has given way to a scarcity of the unusual and intriguing on today's open market and the desire and demand for the anomalous artifacts in which I have always perceived beauty.”

Speaking after auction, Skeel reportedly said he tried to “completely detach himself” from selling of his personal trinkets, and hoped they would find “nice homes and nice people.”

He added: “I have always thought of myself as a guardian rather than an owner of collections. I have so many beautiful things and they have given me great pleasure and have their own memories attached, but I want to see others delighting in them.”

Known in the trade as the “interior decorator’s decorator,” Skeel has supplied such leading design houses as Rose Tarlow, Mark Hampton and Carlton Varney, among others, with treasures and artful finds.



5th June 2007

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