A tour of Eileen Gray’s hideaway
This year might be called The Year of Eileen Gray. In February, the Dragon armchair made by the Anglo-Irish decorator, designer and architect in 1917 became the most costly chair in history, when it sold for €21.9 million at auction. The collector who bought it remains anonymous, but Cheska Vallois, the gallery owner who represented the buyer, said the astronomical sum was “the price of desire”. No wonder the National Museum of Ireland, whose Collins Barracks branch maintains a permanent Gray exhibition, despairs of acquiring more pieces. Also this year, the French government, local authorities and the cement company Lafarge have joined forces to restore E-1027, the revolutionary but ill-fated villa (of which more later) that Gray designed and built at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. “This restoration is tardy, official recognition of Eileen Gray, who was neglected and forgotten,” said Pierre-Antoine Gatier, the chief architect on the restoration project.