The Breakdown

The $12,500 Armchairs

By Kara Baskin
September 27, 2017

Can a pair of chairs command $12,500? Assessing the value of a set of Jacques Adnet airport armchairs sold by eBay Collective dealer Bernd Goeckler

The right pair of armchairs can make for a cozy perch—but is this duo worth more than $12,000? Indeed, says Katja E.T. Hirche at New York City’s Bernd Goeckler, who notes that similar models can go for up to $25,000 at auction. Here’s how she arrived at the price.

Name Recognition. “People are looking for names, and Jacques Adnet was highly prolific in the 1950s and 1960s. He’s a modernist who invented a lot of new styles across a broad spectrum of design,” she says. The chairs were pictured as one of his standout works in René Hardy and Gaëlle Millet’s 2014 Jacques Adnet hardcover retrospective

Jacques Adnet armchairs from the 1950s at Bernd Goeckler. Photograph courtesy of Bernd Goeckler.
Jacques Adnet armchairs from the 1950s at Bernd Goeckler. Photograph courtesy of Bernd Goeckler.

Innovative Material. The chairs are made of leather-like skaï, which was “a novelty for the time,” says Hirche. “It’s a sign of the times. It was used in 1950s airports,” she says. In fact, this model was designed for the Air France VIP lounge. Meanwhile, gilt brass legs resemble bamboo. “Adnet was innovative by incorporating a bit of nature,” Hirche says.

Durability. The chairs’ gilt brass legs can endure wear and tear. “The brass can always be polished no matter how many children or adults touch it. It stands up to the test of time,” she says. Meanwhile, the skaï is in like-new condition despite age, and the chairs are light and easy to move from place to place.

People are looking for names, and Jacques Adnet was highly prolific in the 1950s and 1960s. He’s a modernist who invented a lot of new styles.

Comfort. “These are great lounge chairs, and they’re lower to the ground than a typical armchair. You can easily sit on them for a couple of hours,” she says. Plus, unlike many armchairs, they don’t have closed sides, which lends a unique touch.

Pro tip: When buying chairs online, says Hirche, always feel free to call the dealer for more information or additional photos (of people sitting in them, to get a sense of proportion and fit). Always ask if chairs have been reupholstered—a newly reupholstered chair will boost comfort and longevity—and if the metal shows any nicks or sign of wear.

A second pair of Jacques Adnet armchairs available at Bernd Goeckler.
A second pair of Jacques Adnet armchairs available at Bernd Goeckler. Photograph courtesy of Bernd Goeckler.