Now Is the Best Time in Decades to Buy Fancy Antique Furniture

In June, a delicate French tulipwood and amaranth table dating from 1750 sold for $93,750 at Christie’s New York. In the same auction, a pair of upholstered gilt-walnut chairs from 1770, known as bergeres, sold for $15,000. Those prices are significant—you could buy a Porsche for less than the table—but in the context of 18th century French furniture, the results represented nothing short of a market collapse: At the height of those tables’ demand in the late 1990s, equivalent pieces were regularly selling for $200,000, according to Christie’s, and 15 years ago those exact chairs sold for $50,000, meaning that in less than a generation they’d experienced a 70 percent decline in value. “The market has definitely taken a turn,” said Mark Jacoby, the president and partner of the New York antiques store Philip Colleck. “Pricing has gone back to what it was in the 1970s and early 1980s.”

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