Heated bidding took place for perhaps the most striking lot in the sale, the pair of spectacular life-size casts of Antonio Canova’s wrestlers (lot 137), which brought £433,250 ($607,373), a sum in excess of ten times its presale estimate of £20,000-40,000. Photo: Sotheby´s.
LONDON.- Today, Sotheby’s sale of paintings, furniture and works of art from Gianni Versace’s Lake Como residence, Villa Fontanelle, realised the exceptional total of £7,411,919 ($10,390,769), more than doubling the pre-sale high estimate (£1.7-2.8 million), and saw an extremely high level of lots surpass their pre-sale high estimates – some by as much as ten times. The pre-sale estimate was exceeded before the sale had reached its halfway point, with 545 lots spread over a morning and an afternoon session. At the close of the auction, the sale was 99.4% sold by value and 98.4% sold by lot. Over 500 clients registered to bid and many saleroom attendees honoured the occasion by wearing Versace-designed attire.
Discussing the results of the auction, Deputy Chairman, Sotheby’s Europe, responsible for Single-Owner Collections, Mario Tavella, comments: “With heated bidding in today’s auction extending beyond 12 hours, the day sale turned into an evening sale too. From the recreation of the villa's rooms in Sotheby’s galleries to the hugely enthusiastic bidding in the saleroom, this event epitomised the glamour and vision of Gianni Versace and was a fitting way to mark the sale of his most beloved – and until now very private – Lake Como collection. We are absolutely thrilled with the extraordinary results of today’s sale and the high level of lots that achieved prices well above their presale estimates – in some cases ten fold.”
Mario Tavella continued: “Gianni Versace’s passion for collecting ranged from contemporary masterpieces by artists he supported and with whom he developed friendships to the neo-classical works combined to create his own personal Arcadia at Villa Fontanelle. Sotheby’s series of sales of his property, of which this is the last, are true testament to his eclectic taste, eye for beauty and creative genius.”
Today’s sale follows the exhibition of the recreation of Villa Fontanelle’s rooms in Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries, from his choice of furniture down to the sumptuous bedding and soft furnishings, which evoked the spectacular setting from which the impressive collection offered for sale - of neo-classical furniture, sculpture, silver works and 18th- and 19th-century paintings - originated. The sale catalogues sold out just two days after the exhibition opened.
The sale’s top-selling lots were an exceptional pair of Italian cherry wood and patinated bronze-mounted breakfront bookcases by Karl Roos which sold for £481,250 ($674,664) and £601,250 ($842,892) respectively (lots 169 and 170, pre-sale est. £60,000-100,000 and £80,000-100,000). These important bookcases, formerly housed in Versace’s bedroom, were originally commissioned by Princess Pauline Borghese, sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, for the Library at Palazzo Borghese in Rome in 1814.
Heated bidding took place for perhaps the most striking lot in the sale, the pair of spectacular life-size casts of Antonio Canova’s wrestlers (lot 137), which brought £433,250 ($607,373), a sum in excess of ten times its presale estimate of £20,000-40,000. The casts of Canova’s wrestlers in plaster, Creugas and Damoxenos, had previously been beautifully arranged in Gianni Versace’s own bedroom. Canova was deemed by his contemporaries as "the supreme minister of beauty," and it was Versace’s creative genius that led him to place the figures at the centre of his bedroom to achieve a dramatic effect in his most private room.
Highlights from Gianni Versace’s collection of paintings include a French School, early-19th-century oil on canvas, The Wounded Warrior & The Procession: A Pair, which sold for £99,650 ($139,699), more than double the presale estimate of £25,000-40,000, as well as Circle of Antonio Zucchi - four roundels depicting classical figures, possibly representing the four seasons (lot 43) - which sold for more than four times its pre-sale estimate for £97,250 ($136,335)(est. £10,000-20,000).
A particularly attractive painting by Anton Einsle, his oil on canvas Portrait of a Lady with a Hat, sold for £91, 250 ($127,923), over nine times the high estimate of £7,000-10,000, while a rare work attributed to the celebrated neo-classicist Pelagio Palagi which hung above Gianni Versace’s bed, Hercules at the Crossroads Between Vice and Virtue, sold for £67,250 ($94,278) (lot 156, est. £25,000-40,000). This tempera on canvas, a tondo, was painted in Italy in 1820 and depicts the greatest hero of Greek, Etruscan and Roman legend, Hercules.
A highlight from Versace’s exceptional collection of neo-classical furniture included a gilt-and-patinated-bronzemounted mahogany console table (lot 63) which raised £70,850 ($99325), tripling its pre-sale estimate of £10,000-20,000. In addition, an Italian fruitwood and walnut centre table, famously captured in a photograph of Gianni Versace at work on his designs in his bedroom at Villa Fontanelle (lot 158), sold for £39,650 ($55,585), well in excess of its pre-sale estimate of £10,000-£20,000.
Items from the villa’s bedroom included Gianni Versace’s bed, a gilt-bronze mounted mahogany lit en bateau (lot 154), which achieved the price of £34,850, exceeding the pre-sale estimate of £10,000-20,000, as well as two armchairs with accompanying footstools and cushions designed by Gianni Versace himself (lot 163), which sold for £30,000, ten times the pre-sale high estimate of £2,000-3,000.
Works of Art
A set of four Italian marble portrait medaillions dating from the 18th century (lot 402) sold for £97,250, more than nine times the pre-sale high estimate of £7,000-10,000.