On March 18 Sotheby's
in London will auction off $3 million-plus worth of paintings, furniture and works of art from late designer Gianni Versace
's amazing Villa Fontanelle on Lake Como
, Italy, comprising some 550 lots. In 1977 Versace (in front of the house with his Irish Setters, above) purchased the Villa, which was built in 1776, and restored it to its former neoclassical glory. The Villa itself was sold to a Russian billionaire for $52 million last year, and the Versace family has now decided to deaccession the contents. The designer personally supervised every step of the renovation and carefully selected every item used in its furnishing and decoration, down to the spectacular mosaic floors and paneling. Versace
set out to create his own personal Arcadia at Villa Fontanelle, and spared no expense. It was said to be his favorite residence. Highlights from the sale include a pair of spectacular life-size casts of Antonio Canova
in plaster, c.1800, which were displayed in Versace's own bedroom, estimated at about $30,000 - $60,000; an exceptional pair of Italian gilt and patinated bronze-mounted bookcases, originally commissioned by Princess Pauline Boghese for the Library at Palazzo Borghese
in Rome, est. about $110,000 - $140,000; and a pair of stunning Sévres Coral-red-ground vases "Etrusques", circa 1795, est. about $11,000 - $17,000.
Among the paintings from Versace's collection on offer is the tempera on canvas Hercules at the Crossroads Between Vice and Virtue
attributed to Pelagio Palagi in 1820, est. about $35,000 - $55,000, as well as a very good collection of paintings on glass, miniatures and a vast array of works of art depicting Roman emperors. "It is a great pleasure to orchestrate this one-off sale of such a maverick of style whose taste and influence is epitomized in his Villa Fontanelle collection," says Mario Tavella, Sotheby's European Deputy Chairman responsible for Single-Owner Collections. "This is the last opportunity to enter into Gianni's world and buy something from a collection that is representative of his legacy."