Glass is a wonderful substance...an incomparable plastic medium in the hands of an ingenious artist, offering his imagination and talent almost limitless scope for discovery.

René Lalique

Musical Ear, Artistic Eye

Works from the Collection of Seymour Stein

Seymour Stein is co-founder and Chairman of Sire Records, one of the world’s most influential record labels and home to some of the most iconic artists in modern music. He has been Sire’s driving visionary and creative force since its origins in the 1960s as an independent label and its four-decade tenure as part of Warner Music Group. His unique ability to anticipate musical trends, and to discover and sign the greatest artists within those movements, has left an indelible mark on contemporary culture. 

It was in 1955, when he was just 13 years old, that Stein was granted access to the Billboard archives, where he painstakingly transcribed two decades of charts, developing his encyclopedic memory of songs. After high school, he joined the Billboard staff, then worked for King Records and Red Bird Records. He and producer Richard Gottehrer launched Sire Records in 1967. 

Stein and Madonna at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, 1996

Stein first saw the Ramones in 1975 and, as he said, “It was like sticking my hand in a live electric light socket.” The band’s first album was released by Sire in 1976. It remains one of the seminal recordings in rock and roll history. Stein put New Wave music – a term he coined – on the mainstream map with the likes of Talking Heads and the Pretenders. And in a moment that has become a permanent part of music industry lore, Stein signed a young artist named Madonna while he was in the hospital recuperating from a heart infection. Over the years, Sire’s roster has included other cutting-edge artists such as Tom Tom Club, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, The Cure, Ice-T, k.d. lang, Seal, Everything But The Girl, Aztec Camera, Dinosaur Jr., Wilco, My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, Aphex Twin, Spacehog, Regina Spektor, Tegan & Sara, and many more. Stein was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

In addition to his myriad musical pursuits, Stein developed an impeccable eye for fine and decorative art. His particular love for Art Deco and Art Nouveau design began during his many trips to London and Paris while on the hunt for new bands to sign. With the guidance of his long-time curator and adviser Rodney Richardson, Stein procured only the best examples of ceramics, paintings, drawings, and furniture he could find. We are thrilled to present works from his extraordinary collection and are grateful to him and Rodney for their help, warmth, and good humor.

René Lalique 1860–1945

Few artists influenced the direction of early 20th century decorative design more than René Jules Lalique. Lalique was born in the small village of Ay in northern France in 1860, but moved with his family to Paris at the age of two.

Like many talented artists that emerged from Paris during the early 20th century, Lalique thrived in the creative epicenter of the European world, attending Collège Turgot, a premier Parisian school of the arts. After his father’s death in 1875, Lalique found employment apprenticing with jeweler Louis Aucoc, gaining experience that would lay the groundwork for his own mastery of the craft. By 1881, Lalique had transformed himself from an eager apprentice into a successful freelance jewelry designer, working for manufacturers such as Cartier and Boucheron, as well as a growing roster of private clientele including actress Sarah Bernhardt and oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian.

Lalique’s nature-inspired creations, with their soft, sensual Art Nouveau curves, captured the public’s attention. Shortly after establishing his first official workshop on the outskirts of Paris, Lalique opened a retail store in the affluent Opera district of Paris in 1890. Around this time, Lalique began experimenting with precious stones and metals, incorporating glass, ivory, pearls, and enamel into his increasingly elegant pieces.

Auction Results René Lalique