Silver wrinkles on the surface of shimmering canals. A dark vessel passes by the ivory-arched windows of the renowned building.
In Paris, the auctioneer’s hammer shakes with anticipation.
Just a few hours are left before thunderous beatings will resound.
by Sebastiano Bazzichetto
VENICE • PARIS – It’s time to say goodbye… or, rather, to say benvenuti (welcome) to some of the pieces eager collectors, former aficionados and travellers will be able to purchase from the auction organised by Artcurial. This time the French enterprise is set to auction off most of the furniture, paintings, silverware, Murano glass chandeliers, bedroom keys and much more from the legendary Bauer Hotel.
The iconic “B” palace has been the setting to opulent stays of many illustrious guests: glamorous Marilyn Monroe, then prince now king Charles and Camilla, otherworldly-gifted pianist Arthur Rubinstein, divinely-praised and much-adored soprano Renata Tebaldi, Mario Del Monaco, Ginger Rogers, song writer and activist Joan Baez, king Faruk a Karim Aga Kahn, Elizabeth Taylor and many more.
As one can read in the Artcurial catalogue (also available online), «Founded by the young Austrian entrepreneur, Julius Grünwald, and the daughter of a Venetian nobleman, Mr. Bauer, it soon became the place to be for high society.»
In the late 1930s, Marino Meo devised a modernist façade at the invitation of Arnaldo Bennati, a shipbuilder from Liguria who had prompted construction and renovation work for the hotel.
Set to reopen in 2025, for now the Bauer has entrusted Artcurial to proceed with the sale of 4200 pieces of furniture and artworks, a sale that will ignite the souls of those who would like to own and cherish a piece from one of the best-known places-to-be in Venice. A hotel that is not simply a palace of taste, leisure and refinement, but also represents a mosaic tile of the identity of the floating city.
Among the many remarkable features of the hotel, one must mention the Settimo Cielo (Seven Heaven) top floor terrace with its bar and breathtaking view of Venice. Moreover, one shouldn’t forget that, back in the days, the Bauer was the very first hotel in the city to sport a bran-new system of air conditioning. Many locals would enter the lobby simply to enjoy the cool air in the midst of fiery summers in the lagoon. It is worth mentioning that the Neo-gothic Byzantine façade by Giovanni Sardi overlooks the magnificent Church of Santa Maria della Salute, Punta della Dogana, Bacino San Marco, making it the perfect spot to enjoy the festivities that marked and still marks the Venetian calendar (the Redentore fireworks, for example.)
What to bid on
Some of the most remarkable pieces? These are definitely worth your consideration:
Wooden coats of arms topped by the Venetian winged Lion
A mural decoration with a reproduction of the famous view of Venice by Jacopo de’ Barbari
Iconic Bauer key rings and keys
A Napoleon III chimney piece
The Murano glass outstanding Lanterns that welcomed guests upon their arrival
A selection of mirrors [lot 1445, lot 697, lot 800]
Decorative emblems with the traditional Venetian bricole
A ceramic plate by Pietro Melardi
A set of six cornucopia-shaped vases
Shelves for bamboo lovers
A doll house bar cabinet
Shell wall scones attributed to Seguso
A pair of paintings attributed to Claudio Francesco Beaumont
As it happens for auctions selling objects from fabled dwellings and lodgings (Artcurial also took care of the sale of Ritz Paris’ paraphernalia), it will be exciting to follow the sales as a galvanised (in person and online) crowd start biding and the prices rise, hoping to secure a piece of a legend, a souvenir of bygone Venetian splendour.
The sale takes place in Paris. Click here for more information.
Some archive photos can be found here.