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 Buthaud 1886–1986

René Buthaud was born in 1886 in Saintes, France and studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux from 1903 to 1907 and then the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris until 1913. He trained as a painter and engraver and showed such talent that he exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1911, where his engravings won the prestigious Attainville Prize – an honor comparable to the Prix de Rome, which he also won in 1914.

Following a brief stint as an engraver for the French army during WWI, he returned to Bordeaux where his artist friends Jean Dupas and Roger Bissière encouraged him to try his hand at ceramics. In 1919 and 1920 he exhibited his new wares at the Salon d’Automne and the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs in Paris, where his work achieved critical acclaim. Among his buyers was the famed artist Jean Dunand, who was so impressed by Buthaud’s work that he nominated him for the first Florence Blumenthal Prize, which went to Buthaud in 1921.

He settled in Bordeaux in 1925, where he would spend his entire life in continual experimentation and growth, branching out further into ceramics and eventually working with glass as well. The subsequent decades were filled with a multitude of achievements including: jurying the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs in 1925, directing the Primavera Pottery from 1923 through 1926, exhibiting at galleries Druet and George Rouard, becoming a Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur in 1937, an officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1983, and receiving the French National Order of Merit in 1986, mere months before his death.

He left behind an enormous and impressive body of work encompassing drawings, paintings, verre églomisé panels, and ceramics, all bearing the hallmarks of his unique style: a combination of classicism and modernism with dashes of Cubism, the Italian Renaissance, and influences of the African tribal art he collected.

Auction Results René Buthaud