MILAN — Sotheby’s London will auction Gianni Versace’s furniture, paintings and art works on March 18 in a sale that is expected to raise more than 2 million pounds, or $2.86 million at current exchange.
This story first appeared in the February 17, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The 550 lots were collected by the designer at his early 19th century residence, Villa Fontanelle, in Moltrasio, on the shores of Lake Como. Highlights of the sale include life-size casts of Antonio Canova’s Pugilists, which were arranged in Versace’s bedroom and are estimated at between 20,000 and 40,000 pounds, or $28,696 and $57,393, excluding buyer’s premium; a pair of Italian cherry wood breakfront bookcases by Karl Roos after designs by Giuseppe Valadier, circa 1814, and originally commissioned by Princess Pauline Borghese for the Library at Palazzo Borghese in Rome, estimated at 60,000 to 100,000 pounds and 80,000 to 120,000 pounds, or $86,089 to $143,483 and $114,786 to $172,180, and the tempera on canvas “Hercules at the Crossroads Between Vice and Virtue,” estimated at between 25,000 and 40,000 pounds, or $35,870 and $57,393, painted in Italy in 1820 and attributed to Pelagio Palagi.
Villa Fontanelle, which was one of Versace’s favorite retreats for over 20 years, welcomed guests such as Princess Diana, Madonna, Sting and Elton John, and was sold last year to a Russian multimillionaire for an estimated 35 million euros, or $55 million. The property was embellished with a neoclassical and Empire interior in the designer’s signature color scheme of blue and gold, mosaic floors and paneling, sculpture and silver works, 18th and 19th century paintings, a collection of paintings on glass, miniatures and a vast array of works of art depicting Roman emperors.
“The house in Moltrasio is a Proust house, whereas the ones in Milano and Miami are more Batman.…” the late Versace once said of the villa versus his other properties. “It is the house that really belongs to me, reflecting a mirror image of all that I am, for better of worse.”
Versace bought the abandoned villa in 1977 and completed the restoration, including the landscaping of the three surrounding acres of ornamental gardens, in December 1980.
To mark the sale, Sotheby’s will re-create some of the villa’s rooms in its New Bond Street galleries, down to the designer’s bedding and detailed arrangements. The exhibition will run March 12 to 17.
Later this month, another major art collection assembled over the years by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé is to be sold in Paris by Christie’s in association with Bergé’s own Paris auction house, Pierre Bergé & Associates. The collection comprises works by Goya, Mondrian, Matisse and Léger, bronze and Renaissance art objects, as well as a collection of furniture by Eileen Gray, Pierre Legrain, Jean-Michel Franck, Pierre Chareau and Eugene Printz and is expected to fetch up to 300 million euros, or $440 million.