Palm Beach Modern to auction Gio Ponti cabinet from Villa Nemazee, Aug. 21

Gio Ponti

Gio Ponti (Italian, 1891-1972), Cabinet/Credenza commissioned for Villa Nemazee in Tehran, Iran. Manufactured by Giordano Chiesa. Estimate: $40,000-$50,000

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The word “important” is sometimes used a bit too freely in describing antiques or collectibles, but it would not be a stretch to call this cabinet “highly important.” We spotted it in Palm Beach Modern Auctions’ (PBMA) catalog for their Saturday, August 21 sale titled Objects20C Collection: The Best of Modern. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

If you are a student of midcentury Italian design, you probably already recognized the cabinet as being the work of Ponti (1891-1979), a great Milanese architect, artist, industrial and furniture designer whose illustrious career spanned six decades. Ponti was an enthusiastic advocate of Italian society’s joie de vivre and was a major force behind the renewal of Italian design after World War II.

Ponti’s most famous works include the Pirelli Tower in Milan (one of more than 100 buildings he designed), a magnificent Florentine-style residence in Caracas called Villa Planchart; and the iconic Superleggera chair produced by Cassina in 1957.

Gio Ponti

To own a piece of furniture designed by Gio Ponti is a privilege, especially if it comes with the unimpeachable provenance that accompanies this cabinet/credenza. It was manufactured by Giordano Chiesa, of poplar, beech and steel, as a commissioned work for Villa Nemazee in Tehran, Iran. It has been authenticated by Ponti’s nephew Matteo Licitra, founder of the Independent Gio Ponti Archives. Licitra is recognized by the Italian courts as an heir and authority on his uncle’s work.

An architect and designer as well as an artist and musician, Licitra has produced numerous writings, lectures and seminars focused on his uncle’s work. He also published the Chinese-language edition of the catalogue raisonne Gio Ponti: The Complete Work, 1923-1978. Licitra worked closely with his mother, Ponti archives curator Lisa Licitra Ponti, until her death in 2019. He then established the Independent Gio Ponti Archives, which has its own protocol for authentication.

Gio Ponti

View of Gio Ponti cabinet/credenze with front drawers opened.

The cabinet is finished on both sides, with doors hinged to allow configurations revealing or concealing the drawers. One side has a door on each end revealing four shelves each, and the other has two doors revealing eight drawers.

Gio Ponti

View of Gio Ponti cabinet/credenze with front doors at each end opened to reveal additional drawers

According to Tehran Projects, Villa Nemazee was designed 1957-1964 by Gio Ponti in collaboration with Fausto Melotti and Paolo De Poli. Photos of the villa include an interior reception room and balcony echoing the geometric lines, convertible design and two-tone finish of the cabinet.

Gio Ponti

The cabinet/credenza has had only two owners: Villa Namazee (Shafi and Vida Namazee), Tehran, Iran; and a private collector in New York City. The lot is accompanied by the original certificate issued by Matteo Licitra, Independent Gio Ponti Archives, dated November 29, 2019, placing the cabinet on the first-floor interior balcony room. The auction catalog description includes documentation and additional information about the cabinet. To contact Palm Beach Modern Auctions, call 561-586-5500 or email info@modernauctions.com.