Sotheby’s to present Mario Buatta: Prince of Interiors, Jan. 23-24

NEW YORK – Sotheby’s has announced it will present furniture, fine art and decorative objects from the personal collection of legendary interior designer Mario Buatta in a dedicated two-day auction that will take place during one of the busiest weeks on the New York art market calendar, alongside with both The Winter Show and our Americana Week sales series in New York in January 2020.

Mario Buatta: Prince of Interiors will offer a diverse array of nearly 1,000 works that Buatta lived with in his Upper East Side apartment in New York City as well as the William Mason House – an historic gothic-style home in Thompson, Connecticut – and feature many pieces that have long been admired in showhouse rooms and shelter magazines over the years.

Mario Buatta’s living room, New York. Image copyright Scott Frances OTTO, provided by Sotheby’s

Most influenced by the understated elegance of Colefax and Fowler and the doyenne of exuberant American decor, Sister Parish, 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 comprises: English and Chinese Export porcelain; English pottery and Dutch Delft; English enamels, silver, and glassware; numerous examples of English and Continental furniture, with a particular focus on lacquered, japanned and penwork items; an ensemble of fine art, accented by his well-known collection of dog paintings and many more eclectic objects that illustrate his incomparable personality. With estimates beginning at just $800, the sale will present collectors and admirers at all levels with a unique opportunity to acquire a piece of Mario Buatta’s influential aesthetic.

The New York auction on January 23 and 24 will be preceded by a public exhibition opening on January 16 at Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries.

Details regarding individual highlights from the collection will be shared in due course this fall.


Mario Buatta was one of America’s most renowned and beloved interior designers. Dubbed “the Prince of Chintz” by reporter Chauncey Howell in 1984, Buatta embraced the collected interior. His sumptuous rooms layered fine antiques, confectionary curtains, and sublime colorations, creating an atmosphere of lived-in opulence.  During his tenure as chairman of The Winter Show at the Park Avenue Armory from 1977 to 1991, he championed the importance – and glamour – of collecting antiques.

Mario Buatta. Image provided by Sotheby’s

The designer was born in West Brighton, Staten Island, on October 21, 1935 to Felix and Olive Buatta. He studied architecture at Cooper Union and attended Parsons School of Design’s summer session in Europe with his mentor Professor Stanley Barrows. He received Honorary Doctorates in the Fine Arts from Wagner College and Pratt Institute. In 2011, the New York School of Interior Design renamed the College’s materials library and work area for students in his honor and gave him their first Lifetime Achievement Award. He was a member of Architectural Digest’s AD100 List from its inception in 1990.

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