On The Square

Make Room: An Illusionists Den in New York City

By Jessica Helen Weinberg

Dec 07,2017 | 14:00 EST

It came to me like an unthinkable apparition...the sheer exactness of it all! I felt bamboozled...simply wide eyed!

I am talking about the hypnotically decorated New York City townhouse of Neil Patrick Harris and husband David Burtka that I stumbled upon this week. When he isnt winning Tony Awards, filming hit television shows or popping up in movies, Neil Patrick Harris is doing magic. Not only does he serve as the President of the Board of Directors of Hollywoods Magic Castle and performs his own tricks - he collects.


In this edition of Make Room, were helping you to start the ultimate illusionist den of your own. [Disclaimer] Recommendations for hidden passageways will not be given, as that would clearly defeat the purpose.

Photo: Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka’s Harlem townhouse; Architectural Digest

Lets begin at the end of this month, shall we? Coming up at Potter & Potter Auctions, Winter Magic Sale on December 16th is an impressive spread of original magic advertisements from the best known performers of the 20th century. If you are looking to start a salon style wall of graphically striking posters, weve got just the ticket!

Left to Right: Lot 5, Carter the Great; Estimate $1,200 - $1,800; Lot 20, Kellar The Great Magician; Estimate $2,000 - $3,000; Lot 2, Alexander The Man Who Knows; Estimate $5,000 - $7,000

Pick a sign, any sign! These images are as fantastic as their titles suggest; Carter The Great 'The Worlds Weird Wonderful Wizard', Kellar The Great Magician, Alexander The Man Who Knows. Even if you arent familiar with their acts, you can be artistically entertained by these masterfully colored and imaginative lithographs. 

Lot. 369, Tiffany Studios, Fine Early Turtleback Desk Lamp, New York, 1900s; Sold for $20,000

You will need an enchanting light source when studying your tricks and spells! What better than the magical iridescence of our Tiffany Studios lamps to accompany you in your mysterious library? Click here to browse all upcoming Tiffany Studios lamps. 

Lot 96, A Georgian Style Japanned Double Pedestal Desk; Sold for $1,890

Youll want something with plenty of storage space to fit all of your gizmos and gadgets. Place a Snake in a Can (un-lidded) in the top drawer to ward off unwanted intruders! Be sure to search pedestal desks in Georgian and Victorian style to mirror this weeks interior inspiration. 


Lot 60, Magician’s Collapsible Top Hat. German, ca. 1900; Sold for $676.50

You havent created a proper illusionist den without a proper top hat. Luckily, theres another one like this coming up at Potter and Potter Auctions! Click here to view Lot 208, Top Hat Given to Danny Dew by Dai Vernon; Estimate $200 - $300 - Rabbit not included.

Lot 182, A Leather Upholstered Chesterfield Sofa; Sold for $3,780

Youll simply vanish with comfort! We love the classic, intellectual style of leather options like this Chesterfield sofa. Click here to view all of the sofas upcoming this month

Lot 90, David Bowie Stage Used Takamine 12-String Guitar; Sold for $41,250

If the power of music is how you choose to practice the dark arts, then stay tuned into our social media pages to hear about our upcoming fine instrument auctions. This particular item bewitched auction goers when it sold for $41,250 - we think remnants from Ziggy Stardust might have had something to do with that. 

Lot 1056, Life-Size Silhouette of a Woman in Blue, American, 19th century; Sold for $120

Leave wall space for interesting antique cut-outs commonly referred to as silhouettes. These simple portraits are optical illusions in their own right and reflect the shadowy secrets that all great magicians hold in the palm of their hands. Click here to view all of the intriguing silhouettes coming up this month. 

Lot 309, Pappy Van Winkle Familys Reserve 15 Years Old; Sold for $3,997.50

Stock up on high quality potions and awaken your inner wizard! We are, after all, deciphering the alchemy of design here. The more spirited beverages you and your audience drink the more impressive your illusions will become!

Perhaps, it was the allure of Harry Houdini that brought the likes of Neil Patrick Harris to Harlem. Houdini, the world’s most famous magician and escape artist, purchased a 19th century townhouse on 113th street in 1904 for $25,000 which *poof!* just sold for $4.6 million this year. In any case, we are sure that those two men would have made amusing neighbors!

Click here to browse the full Potter & Potter Auctions, Winter Magic Auction on December 16th

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Jessica Helen Weinberg | Senior Content Editor at Bidsquare

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