Designer Mario Buatta property an Americana Week highlight

A set of curtains in Brunschwig & Fils Verrieres Chintz from the 1984 Kips Bay Show House Room of Mario Buatta. Sotheby’s image

NEW YORK – Sotheby’s has unveiled the nearly 1,000 items on offer in Mario Buatta: Prince of Interiors, an auction Jan. 23-24 dedicated to the personal collection of the late interior designer legend Mario Buatta.

Most influenced by the understated elegance of Colefax & Fowler and the doyenne of exuberant American décor, Sister Parish, Mario Buatta reinvented the English Country House style stateside for clients such as Henry Ford II, Barbara Walters, Malcolm Forbes, Mariah Carey, Patricia Altschul and for Blair House, the President’s guest quarters. The collection features works emerging from Buatta’s Upper East Side apartment in New York City and the William Mason House, an historic gothic-style home in Thompson, Connecticut, as well as many pieces that have long been admired in showhouse rooms and shelter magazines over the years.

Sotheby’s auction will be held during one of the busiest weeks in the New York market calendar – alongside both the Winter Show and Sotheby’s Americana Week sales series. The sale will be preceded by a public exhibition in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries beginning Jan. 16.

Dennis Harrington, head of Sotheby’s English & European Furniture Department in New York, said, “In addition to being one of America’s best loved interior designers, Mario Buatta was a passionate lifelong collector of antique furniture, ceramics and decorative objects. He famously remarked, ‘If you don’t know about the 18th and 19th centuries, you can’t decorate for the 21st.’ Antiques were an integral part of his aesthetic, and he never chose anything for a client that he wouldn’t have wanted to live with himself. This sale aptly demonstrates his philosophy that antiques are timeless and essential to every interior, and it represents an unmissable opportunity to acquire a piece of his legacy. With estimates from $500 to $50,000 and the majority of lots sold without reserve, there is something here for everyone.”

Mario Buatta’s living room in New York. Copyright Scott Frances/OTTO

Emily Eerdmans, design expert and co-author of Mario Buatta: Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration, commented, “Captured in this auction is what Mario Buatta called the scrapbook of his life. Here are pieces that traveled with him from as early as his first apartment in the early 1960s, such as his beloved “Floral Bouquet” living room curtains, whose length he continued to augment as he moved, to objects that belonged to his design idols and inspirations Nancy Lancaster and Mrs. Henry ‘Sister’ Parish II. He spent over 50 years creating this collection which, until now, has been hidden away and never fully comprehended in its impressive scale and quality.”

“My apartment today is full of things I’ve collected over the years. Everything here tells a story. Some of it is good, some of it is chipped and broken, but it’s a collection. It’s what John Fowler called ‘pleasing decay,’ which many don’t understand today… it means that something looks well-worn and l lived with, like an old pair of shoes that you love or an old jacket that gets better with age, it has character.” – Mario Buatta (1935-2018).

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