You won't catch Josh Holdeman sitting around much. He got busy and found a chair that he sold in February for $28 million. And no, that's not a misprint.

Holdeman, 38, the head of 20th Century Art for Christie's International auction house in Beverly Hills, travels the world looking for high-worth objets d'art. He came across a lacquered wood and leather chair made by Eileen Gray, a pioneer of modernist furniture design.

The chair was among the estate of fashion designer Yves St. Laurent. Christie's official estimate put its worth at $3 million, but Holdeman suspected it might sell as high as $5 million. But when the dust settled after the auction, the final price was $28 million.

"It was one of those moments in your career that you know will stick in your mind as electric," Holdeman recalled.

Holdeman doesn't know the current whereabouts of the chair it was purchased by an art dealer in Paris on behalf of an anonymous client but he does know about the change that occurs after an object sells for a huge sum.

"The chair was used on a daily basis until St. Laurent died," said Holdeman. "But after an object sells and a high price is set, the perception of it changes from an object of utility to an art object."



Redwood City Festivities

A recent Silicon Valley tech bash had a healthy dosage of Los Angeles in the mix.

The event: a July 10 party in Redwood City sponsored by Silicon Valley venture capital firm August Capital and tech blog TechCrunch. The party was on the patio behind August Capital's office and among the highlights, according to attendees, was an ice sculpture carved with the TechCrunch logo.

The event's guest list featured some of the who's who in tech, including TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington, Internet consultant Neil Patel and Facebook Marketing Director Randi Zuckerberg.

Among the L.A. luminaries in attendance: Mike Macadaan, the new vice president of product at Beverly Hills-based MySpace; Francisco Dao, producer of the L.A. tech conference Twiistup; and Tyler Crowley, the director of corporate development at Santa Monica-based Mahalo.com.

By the Letter

No one took the title at the fifth annual lawyers for literacy spelling bee: The contest ended in a tie between downtown L.A. attorneys Matt Benedetto and Holger Besch. How did that happen? Neither could correctly spell the word pococurante meaning indifferent.

"It was sort of like the Roddick-Federer match, but it didn't end in a victory for either," said Besch, referring to the dramatic Wimbledon final between the tennis superstars. The L.A. chapter of Everybody Wins, a national literacy non-profit, staged the spelling bee at West L.A. sports bar Busby's on July 8 and raised $45,000. It was Besch's fourth time participating in the spelling bee, but Benedetto's first appearance, with some 75 attorneys in attendance.

How did the newcomer prepare for the contest with a veteran? "I may have reviewed a few words." Benedetto said sheepishly. Although he is quick to point out that he "was one word away from the national spelling bee in eighth grade in 1991."

Staff reporters Joel Russell, Charles Proctor and Alexa Hyland contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at ccrumpley@labusinessjournal.com.

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