Sotheby's Design Milan, Fontana No. 1 but Gio Ponti sets record
The first design auction held by Sotheby's in Italy was held in Milan on June 21-27, 2022, in the wake of Design Week 2022. It was a success: it exceeded the maximum presale estimate, totaling €1,007,118 (from an initial estimate of €553,200 to €813,100). More than 80.4 percent of the lots were sold, almost two-thirds at prices above the maximum projections. Thirty-four percent of buyers were new, with holdings from Europe, the United States, Asia, South America, the Middle East, and North Africa. Top of the evening was a Lucio Fontana ceiling lamp with blue and gold ceramic details for 138,600 euros, more than double the minimum estimate (50,000 to 80,000 euros).
A Proteo table lamp by Gio Ponti (opening) fetched 107,100 euros-seven times the maximum estimate (10,000 to 15,000), setting a new auction record for a lamp by the designer. The previous record for a Proteo lamp was in 2013 when one sold for $34,375 at Sotheby's in New York.
Excellent results as well for Gio Ponti's corner sofas with side panels, which sold for 40,320 euros (from 12,000 to 16,000 euros), while a pair of dressers by the same designer nearly doubled its top estimate, closing at 37,800 euros (estimate 15,000 to 20,000).
Sold out were pieces by Osvaldo Borsani, created for a private residence between 1949 and 1950. Among the offerings was an oval Candoglia marble table inlaid with maple leaves in marble that realized 32,760 euros (10,000 - 15,000).
Borsani's mahogany bar cabinet also exceeded the estimate, with 23,940 euros (from 12,000 - 18,000), as did the console and mirror set, which sold for 25,200 euros (estimate 10,000 - 12,000).
"The results of Sotheby's Italy's first Design sale testify to the important demand from collectors, both locally and internationally, for previously unseen works," commented Elena Cecchi, director, Design Department, Sotheby's London, in a warm tone. "These successes again confirm the market's appreciation for rare and high-quality Italian design, presented to the world from Milan, a city that has been at the center of its development. We were able to exhibit pieces by some of Italy's greatest designers-including Osvaldo Borsani, Gino Sarfatti, and Gio Ponti, whose iconic Proteo lamp achieved record results."
The auction house reports that Sotheby's sales devoted to design have grown exponentially in recent years.