Chai Style Home: Artifacts and Art Make for Sterling Living
Take a peek inside the luxurious lifestyle of Mark and Lilly Antebi.
After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).
Mark Antebi fashioned his life’s work around lustrous, precious, and primordial silver, one of the Seven Metals of Antiquity. With wife, Lilly, the Antebis searched galleries, antique shows, and auctions to find just the right pieces for their Buckhead condominium.
Biedermeier furniture and an extended hall of bold paintings all work to accentuate the couple’s sculptures, Judaica, and exotic use of metals and wood. Making things more interesting, Lilly and Mark have unusual Sephardic backgrounds from faraway lands that factor in their search. Mark has a set of gouaches with rich desert colors depicting Saudi Arabia and the Gulf of Aqaba. Lilly, who hails from the Belgian Congo, commissioned a sculpture of the eponymous floral stems in wrought iron for the guest powder room.
Tour how they seamlessly blend it all so tastefully.
Marcia: We see your life’s work. All measures of textures and metal, accented with fabulous art, immersed in your own livelihood – buying and selling antique silver.
Mark: Over the years, we followed the appeal of dealing in beautiful things, and silver came naturally. Being a Sagittarian, the thrill of the hunt was remarkable. I remember the excitement of being in auction rooms like Christie’s and Sotheby’s and bidding against worldwide buyers…what a heart thumping experience! We then began attending and exhibiting in antique shows. My experience in working with metals at Estes-Simmons for over 40 years was invaluable. Coming out of Georgia Tech with a business/management degree, I had limited exposure to chemistry and physics. This business prompted us to study metallurgy, history, anthropology, and fine art design. Since we were restoring antique pieces made by artisans in various countries and eras, it was important not to make assumptions versus determining factors, as to metal’s composition, assembly, solid versus plated, or has it been altered or repaired.
Marcia: What falls in your “sterling realm”?
Mark: The three “free form squiggles” above the 1970 French burl wood piece are originals that we were commissioned to make as the theme for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Columbus Circle in Manhattan. My silversmith made this Faberge-like filigree egg.
Not all the things here are silver, like this African hammered 1950s copper sculpture, the wild group of bronzed elephants, soapstone, driftwood, and ivory.
Then there’s the Judaica that we treasure: kiddish cups, candlesticks by Ludwig Wolpert (Israeli-American goldsmith and designer), the Russian silver enamel mezuzah, and the “Shemah” calligraphy by Karon. And especially the one-of-a-kind seder plate by Dalya Luttwak, which we came upon in an auction in North Carolina.
Marcia: Why did you choose this space in Buckhead to showcase your collections?
Lilly: When we bought here on Peachtree, we chose to open it up loft-like, removing doorways and walls, and crown molding. We like living just above the tree line and watching the weather patterns and sunsets. “Modern” is one way to describe it. Our floors are stained ebony, and the countertops are a honed black granite.
Mark: Furniture-wise, many of the pieces acquired over the years are Biedermeier, which harks back to an era in Central Europe (1815-1848) coinciding with the Napoleonic Wars and the revolutions of 1848. It’s also known for its playful geometric shapes without applied ornamentation like this sofa, which we recovered in bold crimson and tangerine stripes. Some furnishings are early 20th century, but the look and feel are clean. We added some more modern pieces like Mitchell Gold chairs as they fit for utility and look.
Marcia: Art collecting for you is…
Mark: I view art in the three-dimensional realm, or sculpture. That has always appealed to me. In the antique English silver world, I would rate Paul Storr and Benjamin Smith as favorites. In the American silver world, Peter Krider, and Tiffany and Gorham Designers and silversmiths.
Lilly: We also collect paintings that we “just like”- usually large and bold. The “Pear” (from Scott Antique Market), (red dot) “Voices,” and the whimsy of “Pork chop” by Calder, align the walls with local photographer/artist Parish Kohanim’s large florals.
Marcia: Describe how your Sephardic roots come into play.
Lilly: I was born and raised in Lubumbashi, Zaire (Belgium Congo). My dad inherited his father’s import-export business after World War II where he went with his bride, Lenore Waronker Franco, from Atlanta. We lived there until the revolution in 1961, when my father sent the family back to Atlanta because it was just too dangerous. Mark’s family left Cairo, Egypt, in 1958 when they went to Paris to await visas. There, he stayed until 1961 and came to Atlanta. Mark and I first met at Congregation Or VeShalom on Highland Avenue during Yom Kippur service. We later saw each other at Grady High School where we were both students. In terms of sentimental antiquities, there are no Sephardic touches except the Turkish rug that belonged to my family members rounded up in Rhodes during the Holocaust.
Marcia: Who’s cooking what?
Lilly: The kitchen is a typical galley with slight variations like the cherry wood cabinets. Mark and I both love to cook, so it’s a team effort. We like Italian cuisine and Middle Eastern flavors. When we travel, we’ve been known to book day-long cooking classes, which we love. We entertain a good bit, usually two to three other couples for a dinner party.
Mark: Now, for wine, we like a good, full-bodied red and occasional Scotch.
Thus, this painting by local artist, Arvid, “Liquor Bottles.”
Marcia: So, silver collecting for you is…
Mark: The temptation to want and collect everything is overwhelming. The bottom line is we are the custodians of these things that will ultimately belong to someone else in the future.