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  • Designer Tessa Kennedy's collection stars $20,000 Nureyev cabinets
  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • collectionDesignerKennedy'sTessa

Designer Tessa Kennedy's collection stars $20,000 Nureyev cabinets

Christie's South Kensington will offer the Tessa Kennedy Collection as part of its Interiors auction on March 18, with the interior designer's furniture and personal items set to attract top bids.

Tessa Kennedy interior
The interior of Tessa Kennedy's Knightsbridge apartment


Kennedy is an award-winning decorator, who has worked with some of the most prestigious clients, including Elizabeth Taylor and George Harrison. She has also received commissions by De Beers and the Ritz - the famous Rivoli Bar at the luxury hotel is one of her creations.

The collection contains furniture from her Knightsbridge, London apartment, with the top lot expected to be a pair of Baltic mahogany pedestal cabinets that once belonged to ballet great Rudolf Nureyev, which was originally featured in the Nureyev sale at Christie's New York in 1995.


Kennedy and Nureyev were best friends and she would often pick him up from the Royal Opera House in London to show him the antiques she had seen that week


The cabinets are valued at £8,000-12,00 ($13,350-20,025), and serve as a superb testament of Kennedy and Nureyev's friendship. Kennedy became best friends with the dancer after meeting him at the Royal Palace in Monte Carlo in the 1960s, and they often went antique hunting following his Royal Opera House performances in London.

Among the personal items in the sale is the jacket that Marlon Brando wore on the set of Missouri Breaks (1976), which he gifted to Kennedy. It is estimated to sell for £1,500-2,500 ($2,503-4,171).

Marlon Brando Missouri Breaks jacket
The jacket is a great reminder of Kennedy's connection with the film industry


Kennedy was married to film producer Elliot Kastner and often spent time on set, inspiring her children Cassian Elwes and Cary Elwes to pursue careers in film. Cassian is currently nominated for six Oscar awards, while Cary starred in Robin Hood: Men in Tights and The Princess Bride.

More sumptuous decorations include a pair of Ormolu wall trophies that were inherited by Kennedy from her grandmother Millica Popovic's house in Monaco, where the social elite of the day (including Princess Grace Kelly) would gather to watch the Grand Prix from her balcony.

The trophies were too large to be brought to the UK on a commercial flight, so Kennedy had Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton transport them in their private jet. They are now estimated at £2,500-4,000 ($4,162-6,660).

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  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • collectionDesignerKennedy'sTessa