FrontRunners: Kaufmann House

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Admirers of the Kaufmann house consider it a work of art, and Christie’s ( evidently concurs. The auction house will include the Palm Springs, Calif., vacation residence, which modernist architect Richard Joseph Neutra designed for department store magnate Edgar Kaufmann in the mid-1940s, alongside Rothkos and de Koonings in its May 13 sale of postwar and contemporary art in New York City. Christie’s executives believe that bidders will offer as much as $25 million for the 3,200-square-foot structure, an assemblage of long, low blocks that blends neatly with the surrounding desert landscape. Many of the walls comprise floor-to-ceiling panes of glass, a design element common to houses by Neutra and his fellow modernists and intended to blur the boundaries between indoors and outdoors. Joshua Holdeman, head of 20th-century art for Christie’s American branch, notes that the current owners, who are selling as part of a divorce settlement, spent five years and millions of dollars returning the home to its original state. Among other efforts, they had a rock quarry in Utah reopened so they could secure stone that precisely matched the color of the original. “The structure has undergone a restoration to a level that one would restore a painting, not a house,” Holdeman says.

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