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A pair of 19th century, mahogany, ‘antiquarian’, half-tester beds in the Colonial style from the estate of Douglas Fairbanks Senior, and five generations of the Fairbanks family by descent



Dates
1825 - 1900
Description / Expertise
This pair of half-tester beds were acquired for the guest suite at Douglas Fairbanks Sr and Mary Pickford’s Beverly Hills estate, Pickfair, which housed a collection of early-18th century English and French period furniture, in the 1920’s. Life Magazine described Pickfair as "a gathering place only slightly less important than the White House, and much more fun."

The beds passed by descent to Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and in family tradition were used as the main guest beds at his farm in Virginia, subsequently his home in Washington, then Westridge in Pacific Palisades, Los Angles until 1948 when the family moved to No 8 The Boltons in London and finally in 1973 to the ‘Vicarage’ in Palm Beach. They were inherited by his daughter Daphne in 1988 who continued the family tradition using them as guestbeds at her homes in London and Suffolk. Daphne is now 73 and when she downsized she gave the beds to her granddaughter AIslinn, the great, great grandaugher of Douglas Fairbanks Sr, who had “always loved these beds”. There is a photograph of the beds at Pickfair amongst the family papers which they are trying to locate. Daphne Fairbanks has written a letter discussing their history and some of the stars who slept on them which will pass with the beds :

‘ I should think almost every well known person in the film industry slept on these beds ‘

Aside from being exceptionally rare as antiques, these beds represent a unique opportunity to acquire an iconic piece of history from the golden age of movie making having been owned the “King of Hollywood” and slept on by countless stars, politicians, royalty and socialites. They have passed through 5 generations of the Fairbanks dynasty who have continued the family tradition of using them as their main guestbeds.

The turned posts are surmounted by finials and have fine, reeding and carved decoration. The shaped headboards have scroll crestings above strikingly, beautiful, figured veneers The rails are also veneered The ends have a finely, carved turned rail. The beds stand on lion's paw feet. Two of the original castors remain. The colour and patina are exceptional.


Height to top of finials 193 cm., 76 in., to top of siderails 18 in., to mattress slats 14 ½ in.
Overall Length 213 cm. 84 in., internal headboard to footboard 77 ½ in, internal to siderail & corner cut-out 75 ¼ in.,
Overall Width 109 cm., 43 in., outside rail to outside rail 41 ¾, internal width 39 3/8 in

PICKFAIR, 1143 Summit Drive, Beverly Hills, California, 90210

In the 1920's, the two most famous homes in America were Pickfair and the White House. Silent film superstars Mary Pickford, "America's Sweetheart," and dashing Douglas Fairbanks were the original Hollywood super couple. Individually, they were wildly famous the world over, even more so when they fell in love and married. Douglas had bought the property in the Hollywood hills which they made their home and which the press christened Pickfair, combining their last names, which stuck. They created a romantic legend that drew a steady stream of international royalty, politicians, scientists and artists. An invitation to the Pickfair mansion meant you had made it in Hollywood.

Located at 1143 Summit Drive, in San Ysidro Canyon in Beverly Hills, the property was a hunting lodge when purchased by Fairbanks in 1919 for his bride, Mary Pickford. The newlyweds extensively renovated the lodge, transforming it into a 4-story, 25-room mansion complete with stables, servants quarters, tennis courts, a large guest wing, and garages. Remodeled by Wallace Neff in a mock tudor style, it took 5 years to complete. Ceiling frescos, parquet flooring, wood panelled halls of fine mahogany and bleached pine, gold leaf and mirrored decorative niches, all added to the authentic charm of Pickfair. The property was said to have been the first private home in the Los Angeles area to include an in-ground swimming pool, in which Pickford and Fairbanks were famously photographed paddling a canoe.

Pickfair featured a collection of early-18th century English and French period furniture, decorative arts and antiques. Notable pieces in the collection included furniture from the Barberini Palace and the Baroness Burdett-Coutts estate in London. The highlight of any visit to Pickfair was a large collection of Chinese Objects d'art collected by Fairbanks and Pickford on their many visits to the Orient. The Pickfair art collection was wide and varied and included paintings by Philip Mercier, Guillaume Seignac, George Romney, and Paul DeLongpre. The beds were acquired for the bedroom suite in a new, guest wing.

The mansion also featured an Old West style saloon complete with a burnished ornate mahogany bar obtained from a saloon in Auburn, California as well as paintings by Frederic Remington. In the 1970 Volume 2, Number 10 issue of Mankind Magazine it states there were twelve Remington's from 1907 purchased from the Cosmopolitan Publishing Company that "were Mary Pickford's gift to her husband, Charles "Buddy" Rogers." The interiors of Pickfair were decorated and updated throughout the years by Elsie De Wolfe, Marjorie Requa, Tony Duquette, and Kathryn Crawford.

During the 1920s the house became a focal point for Hollywood's social activities, and the couple became famous for entertaining there. An invitation to Pickfair was a sign of social acceptance into the closed Hollywood community. Dinners at Pickfair were legendary; guests included Charlie Chaplin (who also lived next door), the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Greta Garbo, George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein, Elinor Glyn, Helen Keller, H.G. Wells, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Fritz Kreisler, Tony Duquette, Amelia Earhart, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joan Crawford, Noël Coward, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, Pearl S. Buck, Charles Lindbergh, Max Reinhardt, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Edison, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, the Duke and Duchess of Alba, the King and Queen of Siam, Austen Chamberlain, Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, and Sir Harry Lauder. Lauder's nephew, Matt Lauder Jr., a professional golfer whose family had a property at Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, California, taught Fairbanks to play golf.

When Fairbanks and Pickford divorced in January 1936, Pickford resided in the mansion with her third husband, actor and musician Charles "Buddy" Rogers, until her death in 1979. Pickford received few visitors in her later years, but continued to open up her grand home for charitable organizations and parties. In 1976 Pickford received a second Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in Film. The Honorary Oscar was presented to her in the formal living room of Pickfair, and televised on the 48th Academy Awards. Introduced and narrated by Gene Kelly, it provided the public a very rare glimpse inside the fabled mansion.

Empty for several years after Pickford's death, Pickfair was eventually sold to Los Angeles Lakers owner, Dr. Jerry Buss, who continued to care for the home, updating and preserving much of the unique charm of Pickfair. In 1988 it was purchased by actress Pia Zadora and her husband Meshulam Riklis who demolished Pickfair replacing it with a large "Venetian style palazzo". They received harsh criticism from a nostalgic public, including Douglas Fairbanks Jr who was quoted in the LA Times, "I regret it very much. I wonder, if they were going to demolish it, why they bought it in the first place.". The only remaining artifacts from the original Pickfair are the gates to the estate, the kidney-shaped pool and pool house, remnants of the living room, as well as the two-bedroom guest wing, which the beds were acquired for and, which played host to visiting royalty and notable film celebrities for over half a century. The guest wing was once used as a honeymoon suite for Lord Louis and Lady Mountbatten. In 2005 Pickfair was put on the market again with an asking price of $27 million. It was purchased and is currently owned by UNICOM International, a software company.

Over time the legendary estate gained a mystique. An icon of Hollywood, Pickfair has held a fascination for film historians as well as young Hollywood hopefuls. It symbolized an era where the stars were idolized, where we believed that true love lasted forever, where dreams could come true.

Please see catalogue/tear sheet for more information
Medium
mahogany
Origin
American
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