HOUSTON – Lewis & Maese Auction Company, specialists in fine arts and furnishings, will present a special 2-day Fall auction on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 24 and 25, featuring fine art, furniture and decorative objects from two of Houston’s leading citizens: Lynn Wyatt and the late Ambassador Kenneth Franzheim II.
One aspect of the sale focuses on furnishings from the peach-colored River Oaks mansion of Houston socialite, philanthropist and patron of the arts, Lynn Wyatt. An international fashion icon who has appeared in the pages of Vogue and W, Wyatt’s impeccable taste extends to the interior décor and gardens of her home, located in Houston’s most exclusive neighborhood. In years past, Wyatt hosted many distinguished guests in her home, including Princess Grace of Monaco, Mick Jagger, and fashion designer Bill Blass. Wyatt’s discerning eye and insistence on quality are reflected in the articles consigned to Lewis & Maese’s sale.
The late Ambassador Kenneth Franzheim was a Houston businessman and philanthropist. His collection of Georgian period furniture, Spanish antiques, and paintings by Joshua Reynolds, Benjamin West, Diego Rivera and Picasso are everything that could be expected from a man of the world who sat on the Sphinx in Egypt and was special guest of honor for years at the King of Tonga’s birthday party.
Kenneth Franzheim II was born in Houston on Sept. 12, 1925. He moved to New England at age 12 to attend St. Paul’s Preparatory Academy. During the early 1940s he entered Yale, where he started a lifelong friendship with the 41st President, George H. W. Bush. He left school after his freshman year, during the height of World War II, to enlist in the Army Air Force. After he was discharged, he returned to Yale and earbed his degree in economics. He moved back to Houston and his life began a new chapter, covering so much living that it seemed like the life of many men.
Franzheim spent the first 10 years after Yale in the oilfields of Louisiana and Texas. He worked for Gulf Oil, Shell and various independent companies. He spent the next 10 years developing oil and gas interests of his own, investing in real estate, and having an association with investment banking. Then in 1968 he took a personal interest in Richard Nixon’s Presidential campaign and started the next stage of his life.
At the same time as Franzheim’s efforts to breed and race thoroughbreds at his Xalapa Farms (pronounced Alapa) in the Bluegrass area of Kentucky were taking off, he was appointed Ambassador to New Zealand by President Nixon. He accepted the nomination and left for New Zealand. He would subsequently receive ambassador nominations to the Kingdom of Tonga, Western Samoa and Fiji. He accepted the three new appointments, putting himself in rare company as one of the few men to serve concurrently as ambassador to more than one country. Even with so much accomplished, the adventurer in Franzheim was not sated.
Knowing that this life was no dress rehearsal, Franzheim sponsored an exploration of the Incan Trail, funded prehistoric digs in Mallorca, and physically helped to restore the Sphinx in Egypt. He co-founded together with his wife The Franzheim Synergy Trust, which contributed to struggling people and projects. The trust backed Amigos de las Americas to help provide Latin America with paramedical students during summer breaks. They rewarded then-Baylor Medical student Dean Ornish with a sabbatical grant so he could write his world-renowned book Stress, Diet, and Your Heart. Most importantly, they funded the research of Dr. Judah Folkman that led to the discovery of the key mechanism for how a tumor becomes cancer.
Kenneth Franzheim II did more in his lifetime than could reasonably be related in anything less than a complete text, including his influential role in the election of Ronald Reagan as a charter member of the Republican Eagles, but it was most certainly a life well led. The beautiful antiques and fine art that came as rewards for Franzheim’s years of hard work now will be made available to the public at auction.
The sale will begin at 6:30 p.m. local time (7:30 p.m. EST, 4:30 p.m. PST) on Sept. 24 and 25. The preview will be on Sunday, Sept. 21 from noon till 5 p.m. and Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE