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Broadway producer's collection will go on the block this fall at Christie's

The Palm Beach Post logo The Palm Beach Post 8/22/2019 By Jan Sjostrom, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.
a person sitting in a living room: Terry Allen Kramer. [ROBERT JANJIGIAN/Daily News file photo} © ROBERT JANJIGIAN/Daily News file photo}/The Palm Beach Post, Fla./TNS Terry Allen Kramer. [ROBERT JANJIGIAN/Daily News file photo}

Terry Allen Kramer loved to entertain. She created homes with that in mind and decorated them with a flair that reflected her vivacious personality.

Now that she's gone -- Kramer died May 2 -- the objects that charmed her guests at her ocean-to-lakefront estate in Palm Beach and penthouse overlooking Central Park in New York will be auctioned in eight sales beginning in September and running through January at Christie's in New York.

Among the top items:

Pablo Picasso's 1968 oil Buste d'homme. The cream of the collection, it's estimated at $9 million to $12 million.

Camille Pissarro's 1892 oil Jardin et poulailler chez Octave Mirbeau, Les Damps, estimated at $4 million to $6 million.

A circa 1937 drawing by Salvador Dali used to design his Mae West lips sofa, estimated at $700,000 to $1 million.

Picasso's 1970 crayon drawing Tete d'arlequin, estimated at $700,000 to $1 million.

Other items up for sale will include English and European furniture, silver, Meissen porcelain, late 19th century paperweights and works on paper by artists such as Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Three signed Al Hirschfeld drawings and a group of nine show posters will look back on Kramer's career as a multi-Tony-Award-winning producer.

The big-ticket paintings will be offered at the Nov. 11 Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale. A sale exclusively devoted to Kramer's collection will be held on Oct. 16. Other items will be sprinkled among various sales. The take from all 260 lots is expected to total more than $21 million.

Kramer "wasn't a great collector who would comb the antique stores or auctions," said her friend Pauline Pitt, who was the decorator for Kramer's Palm Beach estate, La Follia, and her New York penthouse. "When she needed something, she bought it and it was finished."

She was very specific when it came to her wishes for La Follia, said architect Jeffery Smith, who designed both La Follia and the penthouse.

"She gave me a two and a half to three-page typewritten list of what she wanted in the house, right down to the kitchen sink," he said.

Above all, she wanted a place where she could entertain comfortably.

Instead of taking her guests on the town, "everything happened at the house," Smith said.

She was famous for her Thanksgiving dinners, when a barefoot Kramer would serve her guests at the buffet table alongside her staff.

"Everyone in town was there," Smith recalled. Including celebrities, who could be anyone from George Hamilton to Rod Stewart to an ex-Canadian prime minister.

More intimate dinners were preceded by leisurely cocktail hours, typically including champagne and caviar, followed by a three-course meal and coffee on the terrace, Pitt said.

Kramer's homes were an extension of her vibrant personality. "She loved clear bright colors," Pitt said.

That carried over into her choice of art as well.

"There's a sense of vividness and immediacy to it," said Max Carter, head of Christie's impressionist and modern art department.

A highlight of the Nov. 12 impressionist and modern art works on paper sale will be a 1947 red and black abstract gouache cut-out by Matisse, created when the artist "was exploring a new medium that would define the later part of his career," Carter said.

Just how eclectic Kramer's taste was can be seen in the distance spanned by Pissarro's classic impressionist landscape and the Dali drawing, a step in one of the most famous surrealist commissions of the 1930s, he said.

Kramer kept the majority of her more valuable paintings -- most bought from art dealer William Acquavella -- in her New York apartment. The penthouse also housed her Meissen porcelain, paperweights and an Italian Scagliola table top featuring a landscape that dates from the second quarter of the 19th century.

In Palm Beach, Picasso's Buste d'homme hung in the living room, where a pair of circa 1775 George III blue and white painted armchairs flanked the fireplace.

But many of the Palm Beach pieces are contemporary. They take their cue from the home's oceanfront setting and Kramer's sense of whimsy, said Liz Seigel, Christie's head of sale for private and iconic collections.

A console table from the breakfast room is supported by palm tree legs shading a pair of monkeys. Carved seashells decorate a giltwood side table.

Like Kramer's belongings, her homes are passing into other hands.

La Follia, which is bookended by billionaires Ken Griffin's 17-acre property and Paul Tudor Jones II's landmarked Casa Apava, sold for a record-setting $105 million in July. Her New York penthouse is on the market.

jsjostrom@pbdailynews.com

@sjostromjan

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