Stair to auction property of designer Mario Buatta, Mar. 13-14

Mario Buatta

Archival photo of Mario Buatta (American, 1935-2018) in his Manhattan residence, which reflected his penchant for the English country style. Image provided by Stair Galleries

HUDSON, N.Y. – Following on the huge success of Sotheby’s “Mario Buatta: Prince of Interiors” auction, Stair of Hudson, New York, will present a series of three sales comprising of additional property of from the Collection of Mario Buatta. The first of the series is a March 13-14 auction with absentee and Internet live bidding available through LiveAuctioneers.

Mario Buatta

English school painting of Cavalier King Charles spaniel with parrot. Watercolor on paper, 24 x 27in. framed. Estimate $600-$800

Buatta’s collection includes porcelain, painted furniture, dog portraits (especially those depicting Cavalier King Charles spaniels), English furniture, and botanical engravings; as well as a myriad of decorative items. Each piece reflects the famed interior designer’s iconic style, which harkened to the grandeur of another era.

A fourth-generation furniture specialist, Stair’s founder Colin Stair recalled, “Once upon a time, in a world not so long ago when the whole of New York was decorated in chintz and floral prints, I met Mario Buatta. I had just started working at Sotheby’s, and a whole new world opened up to me. I had my first glimpse of some of the finest interiors and met a few of the world’s most renowned decorators. My first encounter with Mario took place with my father, who was also a ‘character,’ and an impasse between them ensued for the next ten years.”

Mario Buatta

Pair of Chinese export blue and white porcelain vases mounted as lamps. Estimate $400-$600

“Despite this, I often found myself in houses that Mario was working on, as we shared many clients, including Malcolm Forbes and the Johnsons, to name just a couple. And throughout the eighties I would visit other clients and see the trademark floral prints and chintz on the walls. It is amazing how one can be inspired and learn so much from just being in the presence of such talent.”

Buatta developed a clientele that ranged from the rich and famous — Mariah Carey, Nelson Doubleday, Charlotte Ford, Billy Joel, Peter Duchin and Malcolm Forbes — to the merely rich. Buatta’s rooms were immediately identifiable. His New York Times obituary observed: “He was particularly fond of chintz, the printed cotton fabric with a glazed finish, and made exuberant use of pillows, fringes, swags, tassels, bows and ruffles. With some tassels costing hundreds of dollars each and fabrics hundreds of dollars a yard, curtains in a Buatta room might cost $12,000 in today’s money by the time they were hung.”

Mario Buatta

Mario Buatta at work, surrounded by endless bolts of fabric. Image provided by Stair Galleries

In 2001, Colin Stair launched Stair Galleries. The day after uploading the digital catalog for their very first auction, Colin received a phone call from Buatta, requesting a printed catalog. Colin told him, “Mario, we don’t have any printed catalogues, the catalogue is all online…,” to which Buatta replied, “What do you mean there is no printed catalogue?’”

“So we scrambled to make him a printed copy, somehow managed to get it to him the next day and he ended up bidding in our very first sale,” Colin said.

From that point forward, Buatta became a regular bidder. His loyalty comes full circle with the auction of his collection on March 13-14 (future sales: April 23-24).

Buatta’s theme’s often included a painted screen, such as this one.

Mario Buatta

Fine Japanese black lacquer and parcel-gilt six-panel screen. Estimate $1,500-$3,000

Mario Buatta lived up to his nickname “Prince of Chintz,” favoring flowery patterns and busy designs, but he always managed to combine contrasting pieces in a way that was elegant and very appealing — a very difficult thing to achieve.

Mario Buatta

Fine Italian Rococo painted and parcel-gilt chest of drawers, Sicilian. Estimate $2,500-$5,000

The Collection of Mario Buatta will be offered by Stair on March 13-14, starting at 11 a.m. ET each day. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers. For additional information about any item in the auction, call Stair at 518-751-1000.