Sleek Mid-Century Modern design meets ornate Louis XVI aesthetics in this rare John Vesey (American 1924-1992) desk circa 1958, to be sold in Freeman’s Oct. 8 Design sale. Having been owned by former Flyers and Eagles owner, Jerry Wolman, this desk holds a distinguished history in Philadelphia’s favorite fall pastimes.
The ultimate corner office desk, the stainless steel and gilt bronze piece is representative of Vesey’s opulent aesthetic. Gilt detailing along the trim, legs and leather top showcase Vesey’s knowledge of 18th and 19th century furniture from his time spent as an antiques dealer.
“Steel is putty in John Vesey’s Hand. He bends [steel], tapers it and turns it, ending up with chars and tables as the antiques that inspired him,” The New York Times once reported in 1958.
Vesey found success as a designer throughout the 1950s and 1960s when the world’s elite took notice of his work. During this period his client list included Howard Hughes, Hubert de Givenchy and Diana Ross among others.
Real estate mogul-turned Philly-favorite, Jerry Wolman, was also attracted to Vesey’s singular aesthetic.
Wolman purchased the Eagles franchise in 1963 and, at 36, became the youngest owner in the league. A few years later, in 1967, he became one of the founding owners of one of today’s most treasured hockey teams, the Philadelphia Flyers.
Standing in front of the desk, it is easy to imagine Wolman working, discussing bringing hockey to Philadelphia and planning his many philanthropic endeavors.
The desk was featured in Vesey’s original catalogue with a $7,500 price tag, making it one of the most expensive furniture pieces of the era (a copy of the catalogue can be made available upon request).
“Desk: Louis XVI style bureau plat in steel, with gold bronze trim and leather top. Fluted leg construction with pull-out side writing rests. Three false drawers and three true drawers lined in suede. The left hand drawer fitted as a safe with combination locking device. 30”W, 60”L (80” with sides open), 29¼”H.”
The desk is estimated between $4,000-6,000. See it in person beginning Oct. 4 during the Design Sale exhibition, which runs through the morning of the sale on Oct. 8.