Auction of unique house nets $5 million

On a small plot of land just south of the Queensborough Bridge sits a yellow house that survived several civil wars in the Congo. Lined floor to ceiling with submarine-like windows, the house has only one room, which measures 59-by-32-feet.
Moreover, at an auction by Christie’s on Tuesday, June 5, buyers promised to fork over nearly $5 million for the structure, which is set upon stilts, measures 16 feet in height, and is currently located in the empty Silvercup Studios lot along the Queens waterfront.
The house - entitled Maison Tropicale - is a prototype created by French designer Jean Prouv/ for colonial officials in Africa. Manufactured in 1951, the Maison Tropicale was made of bent steel and aluminum, designed for smooth assemblage and easy shipping from its production location in Brazzaville - what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Christie’s described the structure as “one of the designer’s visionary prototype modular pre-fabricated constructions,” in its invitation to prospective buyers.
Only three homes were created and shipped to the Congo and Niger in the 1940s and 1950s, and until recently, Eric Touchaleaume, a French antiques dealer, owned them all.
Touchaleaume said recently that he opted to sell one of the metal structures to pay for a Prouv/ museum, which would be created inside another of the metal homes.
The home’s new owner, New York City-based, Hungarian hotel owner Andr/ Balazs, offered $4,968,000.

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