How a Reality TV Star Ended up With Dozens of Furniture Pieces by Historic Designer Billy Haines

Mary Elizabeth Andriotis
·2-min read
Photo credit: Bravo - Getty Images
Photo credit: Bravo - Getty Images

From House Beautiful

Even when interiors are redesigned and rooms no longer look as they once did, furniture is forever—and that’s exactly why interior designer William “Billy” Haines’s creations are still sought after today. Because of his old Hollywood-era furniture designs, Billy Haines remains a coveted name in the interior design world—just take a look at websites like 1stdibs, where a single chair designed by Haines has an asking price of $5,975. One of the largest collections of Billy Haines-designed furniture in the world is owned by real estate agent Josh Flagg, star of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. His collection is second only to that of the former Annenberg estate, known as Sunnylands, in Rancho Mirage, California.

Flagg first began collecting Billy Haines’s furnishings when he sold the Billy Haines-designed Betsy Bloomingdale estate in Holmby Hills, California (to none other than Tom Ford) in 2016. Unfortunately, many of the world’s most important interiors no longer exist—whether that’s because of house demolitions or simply redecorating a room that doesn’t suit the style of the new homeowner. As Flagg says, “most of the estates that Billy Haines designed have been dismantled or sold off, so there are really no complete houses left that were fully designed by Billy Haines.”

After the sale of the Bloomingdale estate, Flagg says he “purchased much of the contents of the home at auction at Christie’s,” including “some notable mirrors and chaise longues.” He has since added to his collection through other estate sales, including the estates of President Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and the Annenbergs, as well as purchasing pieces from dealers.

So, where does Flagg keep his treasure trove of Haines’ designs? Mostly at his home in Beverly Hills, but also in storage units, where he keeps art and furnishings from the 18th through the 21st century. Flagg's collection includes a red leather and elm low table, and a set of six green-painted metal side chairs, upholstered in white vinyl, all of which are circa 1960 and are pictured in the above photos.

Photo credit: Nick Springett
Photo credit: Nick Springett

Although we know Billy Haines as an interior designer, he first came to Hollywood to be an actor, in 1922. 13 years later, he quit acting and entered the world of interior design, in 1935. Haines’ clientele included Joan Crawford, the Reagans, Carole Lombard, and Gloria Swanson. Haines even attended parties at Hearst Castle, where publisher William Randolph Hearst and his mistress, actress Marion Davies (another one of Haines’ star clients), lived. Most recently, you can see actor Daniel London play Billy Haines’s client, film director George Cukor, in Ryan Murphy’s aptly titled show, Hollywood.

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