Gerrit Rietveld Crate Chairs, ca. 1960

Value (2010) | $4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction

We bought those chairs in Utrecht in the Netherlands when we were still living there. This must have been around 1960. And we went to the States in '74 and we took the chairs because we loved them a lot.

Well, as you know, they're made by one of the 20th century's most famous designers, Gerrit Rietveld. Did you know Gerrit Rietveld?

Yes, we could see him once in a while on his bicycle going through the city. So we certainly knew him. He didn't know us, but he was famous.

He was very famous. Even now in the 21st century, there's a whole new generation of collectors and furniture lovers out there that recognize how wonderful his furniture is. These chairs are wonderful. They're called crate chairs. Gerrit Rietveld started in the teens, actually. He was part of the De Stijl movement. About 1917, 1918, he designed a couple of very famous chairs. But these chairs are interesting because they're actually made by one of the men that worked for him. Do you remember his name?

Yes, his name is van der Groenekan.

I won't even try to pronounce that. But this gentleman started making furniture in the 1920s. 1925 or so he started making furniture for Mr. Rietveld and actually continued it forward into the '60s, didn't he?

He did, yeah. He was his carpenter and he was still making the chairs. And he lived in De Bilt, a little bit north of Utrecht, where we used to live. And we knew him. APRRAISER: Absolutely.

Yeah, we visited him and he made those chairs for us.

Not only are they great modern chairs and really kind of have that wonderful modern feel, Rietveld was very famous for kind of contracting chairs to their most elemental levels. He reduced them from being fancy and kind of feathery to being the most simple examples he could think of. Pine tends to be soft and wears a lot. It's easy to scar, it's easy to scratch. But this chair has absolutely fantastic condition. What I love about these chairs is is they have tags on the bottom that you bought them from his carpenter in 1960. I don't know what it says.

It was his address.

It was his address? Okay. So we have a great provenance. Rietveld has become one of the most well-known names in the modern world. What did you pay for them all those years ago?

We probably paid like 200 guilders. I think that must translate to $60.

About $60?

Yeah, at that time.

At auction, these chairs will probably bring about $4,000 to $6,000, conservatively.

That is surprising. Yeah, I like that.

Appraisal Details

Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2010)
$4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
Washington, DC (August 21, 2010)

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