White House Designer Michael S. Smith Curates His Fourth Branded Sale with Christie’s

More than 200 objets d'art and furnishings from a California estate decorated by the acclaimed designer are on the block.

Intricately designed dining room with chandelier and china sets
A dining room designed by Michael S. Smith © Scott Frances/OTTO/Courtesy Christie's

He’s worked with clients like Steven Spielberg and Rupert Murdoch and even counts the White House among his list of decorating achievements. Now, the acclaimed American interior designer Michael S. Smith has lent his talents to the auction world in “American Manor House: A Beverly Hills Estate by Michael S. Smith,” a sale of English furniture, Italian artwork and Chinese porcelain at Christie's.

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The online auction, which opened last week and will end on March 27, is wholly dedicated to the furnishings of a single Beverly Hills estate Smith worked on for over two decades. More than 200 lots, which include Old Master paintings and Mahogany furnishings, will be exhibited at Christie’s New York from March 23 through the end of the sale.

Leading the auction are items like an early George III bookcase with a high estimate of $60,000 and a North Indian carpet that is expected to fetch up to $18,000. A set of Chinese dinner porcelain from the Qianlong period (1735 to 1795) is expected to realize between $15,000 and $25,000, while a Chinese reverse-painted mirror from the same era could sell for $18,000. There’s also artwork—paintings by Jacques-Émilie Lanche and Jacob van der Ulft that have respective high estimates of $25,000 and $30,000.

The goal was to mix California style with the appeal of an English country manor, according to Smith, who began working with the home’s owners around 2000. “It’s like a quilt—you have squares of different things you love, but it all holds together as a cohesive vision,” he said in a statement.
Intricately decorated mirror with gold frame
A Chinese export reverse-painted mirror is among the auction’s offerings. Courtesy Christie's

Who is Michael S. Smith?

Born and based in California, Smith honed his design skills at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and Los Angeles’s Otis College of Art and Design before apprenticing for antiquities dealer Gep Durenberger. He opened his firm, Michael S. Smith Inc., in 1990 and has since been commissioned by heavyweights across finance, fashion and entertainment.

In addition to working on spaces for producer Peter Chernin and actors Dustin Hoffman and Michelle Pfeiffer, Smith has designed a Mallorcan retreat for Oaktree’s Howard Marks, an Upper East Side home for Cindy Crawford and houses across New York and Los Angeles for Shonda Rhimes.

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But Smith is best known for his work with the Obama administration. The designer, who was appointed to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House in 2010, was tapped by Barack and Michelle Obama to redesign the Oval Office and White House residential quarters. Bringing in elements like Native American pottery and a rug woven with quotations from Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy, Smith also worked with White House curator William Allman to secure museum loans for paintings by artists like Mark Rothko, Jacob Lawrence and Edward Hopper.

Over the years, Smith has also brought his design expertise to Christie’s. In 2013, the auction house hosted a sale dedicated to the contents of a Malibu villa decorated by Smith. And in 2018, two auctions offered up pieces from Smith’s clients in London, New York and Los Angeles.

The upcoming auction will be his fourth branded sale with Christie’s, according to a statement from Americas client relationship director Jennifer Wright. “Widely acclaimed as the preeminent decorator in America, Michael’s designs have become synonymous with chic, gracious and elegantly refined interiors in the 21st century,” she said.

White House Designer Michael S. Smith Curates His Fourth Branded Sale with Christie’s