Auction experts: Sotheby's Mario Tavella on decorative art

27 July 2018• Written by Ticky Hedley-Dent

Your yacht can be the perfect place to show off your fine art collection but, once you've sought expert advice on the things to consider when displaying art on board, the most important decision is choosing what to hang. Do you go for sea-inspired artworks to suit your surroundings and can sculptures ever work on board? Whatever you decide, buying at auction is the bets way to secure beautiful pieces so read on for Mario Tavella's, president-directeur général Sotheby’s France and chairman, Sotheby’s Europe, top tips.

Tavella is president-directeur général Sotheby’s France and chairman, Sotheby’s Europe

Most important sale you have done?

Two sales stand out. The Collection of Bruni Tedeschi, sold in London in 2007, was the result of the faultless taste of Alberto Bruni Tedeschi. Many of the pieces had impeccable provenance, and his castle of Castagneto was later featured in the film A Castle in Italy by his daughter, Valeria. More recently, the fantastic collection of interior designer Jacques Grange, which showcased an exceptional mix of design, contemporary art and photographs. Discovering his private world made clear in an instant why the greatest collectors call on him.

The most interesting painting you’ve sold?

A major canvas by Pierre Soulages from 1962, which we sold last year for €6.1m, setting a new record for the artist. He held on to it until American dealer Sam Kootz, who also represented Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning, persuaded him to part with it.

What do you collect?

I buy objects from the 16th to the 20th century, but in a dream world I would own a great Modigliani or De Chirico – a tribute to my Italian origins!

Market insight

Paris is a particularly interesting place for the art market at the moment. Exhibitions in major museums and auction houses, and the international art fair FIAC, have brought new energy to the city.

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