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Tuesday, June 4, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Plestcheeff Estate Will Go To Support Decorative Arts

Seattle Times Art Critic

The decorative arts received a boost of support yesterday with the announcement that the $2 million estate of Guendolen Plestcheeff, a longtime Seattle collector of decorative arts, will go to the Seattle Art Museum and the Corporate Council for the Arts. The money is to be used to support projects related to the decorative arts; about $1.5 million is earmarked for SAM, with $500,000 going to the CCA.

In addition, the estate is donating 81 objects from the Plestcheeff collection to SAM, as well as an extensive decorative-arts library. Included are 18th-century French chairs, Faberge pieces and rare Russian porcelain and glass.

Herbert Hall, Plestcheeff estate executor, said that he and the six other board members of the Plestcheeff Institute for the Decorative Arts "felt that we could best preserve (Plestcheeff's) legacy and fulfill her wishes by setting up decorative arts endowments at the Seattle Art Museum and the Corporate Council for the Arts."

Peter Donnelly, CCA president, said his organization will use the money to support decorative and design projects.

Plestcheeff, who died in 1994 at the age of 101, was a lifelong supporter of the decorative arts. She helped establish SAM's decorative-arts program in the early '80s and was a founding member of the museum's decorative-arts council.

The daughter of Seattle pioneers Emily and Morgan Carkeek, Plestcheeff led a life befitting the heroine of a sweeping novel. She married an exiled Russian nobleman, Theodore Plestcheeff, in Paris in 1928 and spent the decade before World War II in Europe, where she collected designer clothes and top-quality objets d'art. In 1937 the couple moved to Seattle, where she lived in an imposing mansion on Capitol Hill until her death. Part of the $2 million that is being donated will come from the sale of the mansion.

After the war, Plestcheeff continued her collecting, visiting Europe to buy until well into the final decades of her life. When her health grew frail, she shopped from Seattle through auction houses. Her stunning collection of designer clothes has already been donated to the Henry Art Gallery and the Museum of History and Industry.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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