French Art Deco Lives On in the Gables

The Martell Gallery Offers 20th Century Antiques

Coral Gables is known for its rich history, beauty and expensive real estate. The same could be said for the items found in Martell Gallery, an antique store on Ponce de Leon Boulevard that specializes in early 20th century decorative objects, with an Art Deco focus.

Waltford Gonzalez, who owns the shop with his partner Juan Pichardo, has been collecting and dealing antiques for over 25 years. Born and raised in Venezuela, Gonzalez moved to Miami in the early ’90s and to Coral Gables in 2010. He began his career at an antique store in Coconut Grove before becoming a private broker. He then opened Martell Gallery in 2019. “My clients wanted to see the inventory in one place,” he said. 

Those clients are mostly residents from the Gables and the surrounding area, with some driving down from as far as Palm Beach to visit the gallery. “You don’t find this stuff everywhere,” said Gonzalez. “It’s very unusual to find a collection like this.”

Waltford Gonzalez  and Juan Pichardo - French Art Deco Lives On in the Gables
Co-owners Waltford Gonzalez (left) and Juan Pichardo specialize in items from the French Art Deco period.

Of all the antique items at Martell Gallery, the oldest is a cast bronze statue from the early 20th century; Gonzalez estimates between 1902 and 1905. “This was from a private collector who bought it in France in the early 1990s,” he said. The price tag? $89,000. 

While this piece is from the early 1900s, Gonzalez specializes in items from the French Art Deco period from 1920 to 1940. “I started to do more research on it when I was majoring in art history and I fell in love with the period,” he said. Everything about Art Deco was glamorous, from fashion to furniture, Gonzalez explained. Pieces from those two decades have materials that aren’t found in furniture anymore, like ivory, silver and even stingray skin. “It was a very opulent and ostentatious period,” he said.

So it comes as no surprise that Martell’s most expensive item is from this period: A sculpture made by Demétre Chiparus in 1925, priced at $936,000. His works are known for their decorative affectations, and this sculpture, in particular, depicts Russian dancers. “He would go to the ballet and get inspiration for the sculptures,” said Gonzalez. 

On the other end of the spectrum, the least expensive pieces are ceramics, glassware (such as vases and pitchers), and smaller handmade boxes, which range from around $600 to $800. 

Like most businesses, the gallery was hit hard by the pandemic, especially because customers couldn’t visit the showroom and browse the antiques. “This [past] year was a really tough one,” he said. “I did a lot of business with Instagram and [other] platforms, so that has been giving me sales.” Fortunately, in-person shopping has resumed and Gonzalez can continue to do what he loves: Collecting and selling antiques. “For me,” he said, “it’s a passion.”

French Art Deco Lives On in the Gables
Sculpture of Russian dancers by Demétre Chiparus in1925. Price: $936,000.

Martell Gallery
3160 Ponce de Leon Blvd.