Late last week, Sotheby’s New York rocked the interior design world—with a whole lot of floral chintz. The cause was, of course, the auction house’s “Mario Buatta: Prince of Interiors” sale—expertly staged by Rush Jenkins, hotly anticipated by a slew of top designers, and ultimately sold for a series of staggering prices. But a great success for the auction house and the Buatta estate was not quite as successful for many Buatta-maniacs, who couldn’t quite manage to nab the small porcelain dish or canine painting they were eyeing as the bids came pouring in. Luckily, though, there are a series of additional chances to buy Buatta that are coming quickly around the bend.
The Hudson Valley’s Stair Galleries is planning a triad of spring sales of a whopping 1,400 additional items from Buatta’s personal collection. First up to bat will be “The Collection of Mario Buatta,” which will feature a variety of pieces and is set to take place March 13–14. A little over a month later, two additional sales will be staged by Stair that will no doubt lure buyers hoping to obtain even the smallest piece of meaningful Prince of Chintz ephemera. On April 23, the auction house will host “Ceramics from the Collection of Mario Buatta,” while on the next day “Objects, Treasures, and Trifles from The Collection of Mario Buatta” will take place. All three sales are set to begin at 11 a.m.
As for the expected highlights that will be on offer, options abound. There’s a Louis Philippe ormolu-mounted clock thermometer and a group of Wedgwood pearlware leaf-form tablewares—both of which stand out. Furniture buffs will likely be intrigued by a Dutch screen and Italian rococo painted console—and, in light of some of Sotheby’s most successful lots, a Chinese export cabinet and chintz-upholstered seating options. Unsurprisingly, dog paintings and botanical prints will also be well represented.
Stair founder Colin Stair’s relationship with Buatta goes way back. He first met the legendary decorator while he was working for none other than Sotheby’s New York. After soaking up the decorator’s influence during the 1980s and beyond, Stair encountered Buatta again in 2001, when the auctioneer took a leap of faith to establish his namesake organization. “[We] were holding our very first auction at Stair…when suddenly I had Mario Buatta on the phone, demanding a printed catalogue,” Stair wrote on the auction house’s website. “‘Mario, we don’t have any printed catalogues, the catalogue is all online…’ I said. ‘What do you mean there is no printed catalogue?’ He asked incredulously. 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!” Relationship sealed, Buatta became a “regular bidder,” as Stair puts it. It was a role that endured. “Towards the end, I would say to him, ‘Mario, are you sure you really need this?’ And he would always say, ‘Yes, of course I do.’”
Online bidding in Stair Galleries upcoming sale, “The Collection of Mario Buatta” will be available on Bidsquare.
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