Back to the Future: A Luxury Curation of Art From Many Eras (Including a Warhol NFT) Lands in New York

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Earlier this month, the well-dressed and well-heeled converged for a cocktail party to celebrate time travel—in a sense, the free-flowing concept behind the exhibition dubbed “Time Machine,” hosted by Tourneau Bucherer at its Manhattan flagship.

Seeming to materialize a vortex, a 1997 Damien Hirst spin painting hung on the wall above a display case. Two women in miniskirts (one paired with combat boots, the other cowboy boots) had set their glasses atop it to try on the encased jewelry. The platinum Fleur des Alps Bucherer ring consisted of a large yellow sapphire surrounded by jeweled spires radiating out from it. It was so large it covers three fingers and retails for $290,000 (the $990,000 diamond version was upstairs).

Fleur des Alps platinum and yellow sapphire cocktail ring. Courtesy of Bucherer.

“Time Machine” is the second iteration of Tourneau and Bucherer’s ongoing art show/initiative (one of the works in the debut was Picasso’s 1933 drawing Étude pour Lysistrata la Plainte des Femmes). According to the brands, the show aims to explore “art’s qualitative powers of time travel and timelessness.” Suffice to say, there are plenty of gorgeous watches and jewelry abound to balance out the art from different eras.

It’s held at Bucherer 1888 Timemachine, the 19,000-square-foot, three-story flagship of the luxury jeweler and watch retailer (the space had previously been home to Tourneau, which was acquired by Bucherer in 2018). An in-house team curates the shows, working in conjunction with the elite art-subscription service On Approval to source the art. The showcase is refreshed every three months.

Damien Hirst's <em>Beautiful, red, edgy, comet, purple, spunk painting</em> hangs above a jewelry display. Photo: Hannah Turner Harts/BFA. Courtesy of Bucherer.

Damien Hirst’s Beautiful, red, edgy, comet, purple, spunk painting hangs above a jewelry display. Photo: Hannah Turner Harts/BFA. Courtesy of Bucherer.

The art selection is small, but consists of heavy-hitters with name recognition: an all killer, no filler edit that appeals to both longtime aficionados and newly-minted crypto bros wanting to throw down for statement and investment jewelry and NFTs—which just so happen to be among the most contemporary works on view.

A 2017 CryptoPunk and Warhol’s 1985 floppy disk flower, recently rendered into an NFT, are both on display (in LAGO digital frames, which, once the waitlist clears, will go for about $9,000). Other items include a 1926 Man Ray photo of a magnolia blossom and Mungo Thompson’s six-foot-tall mirrored sculpture from 2020, which looks like a blank Time magazine cover and is the perfect backdrop for an Instagram moment. Mixing mediums and decades, the artworks are examples ahead of their time that have stood the test of it, too.

Larva Labs, <em>CryptoPunk #5447</em> (2017) is currently on display at Bucherer Timemachine 1888. Photo: Hannah Turner Harts/BFA. Courtesy of Bucherer.

Larva Labs, CryptoPunk #5447 (2017) is currently on display at Bucherer Timemachine 1888. Photo: Hannah Turner Harts/BFA. Courtesy of Bucherer.

Using art as a magnet isn’t a new retail concept. But Bucherer is wielding it in a new way, by using such a consistently high caliber of artists in rotation to draw people in. For many shoppers and passersby, no space can seem as elitist and off-putting as a luxury jeweler. “That’s what we really want to break,” said Carina Ertl, Tourneau CMO, at the opening fete. “We want to make ‘Time Machine’ a welcoming experience.”

It seems their goal is to give it the vibe of an all-day café—perhaps even to revive the now-quaint concept of the luxury mall where you can shop, dine, and relax. The space has three bars and multiple lounge areas. “Come in and have a drink, play chess,” said Ertl. “You can have a business meeting here. Come hang out with your friends. We want you to explore.”

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