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One of these unusual pieces currently resides in Buckingham Palace. The other will soon go on auction at Sotheby’s. 

Hannah Walhout
May 03, 2018

Most people who aspire to decorate their homes in royal style aren’t exactly thinking "more giant bugs" — but maybe they should be. Turns out the Queen’s private furniture collection is edgier than you’d think.

As part of this year’s spring sales, Sotheby’s is auctioning the “Sauterelle” bar, a functional sculpture crafted in 1970 by French design icon François-Xavier Lalanne as part of a larger series of conceptual animal-shaped furniture. That same year, its twin was gifted to Queen Elizabeth II by then-president Georges Pompidou; it has stayed in her private collection at Buckingham Palace ever since. 

This fanciful bar takes the form of a giant stylized grasshopper: six feet long, with arresting polished-brass eyes and an abdomen plated with white Sèvres porcelain. Despite the fine materials, there is a somewhat industrial look to the piece — its wings connect to the body with exposed hinges, while the insect’s bent legs are fashioned out of soldered steel rebar.

Courtesy of Sotheby's

Wondering where the booze goes? There are two compartments hidden inside: the smaller one, in the thorax, is perfect for storing glassware, while the larger, coated in brass, can hold several bottles of your drink of choice. The grasshopper’s wings can fold out to form low trays perfect for pouring. 

Courtesy of Sotheby's

Whether Queen Elizabeth has ever actually used her beautiful bar is unclear — but considering the varying reports regarding the number of cocktails she drinks in a day, one imagines that her copy of the sculpture might house a few bottles of champagne (or even gin).

If you would like to be the only other person in the world to own this strange specimen, now is your chance. Sotheby’s estimates its value at $800,000 to $1,200,000 — perhaps a small price to pay for membership in a very unusual two-person club.

Sotheby’s Important Design auction takes place in New York City on May 24.

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