David Bowie's extensive collection of pieces by the Memphis group is set to be auctioned in London. Before his death earlier this year, the musician was an avid collector of works by the Italian designer Ettore Sottsass and the Milan-based Memphis group. Over the years, he had managed to acquire over 100 pieces, including the iconic Super Lamp by Martine Bedin and Sottsass' Carlton bookcase.
Enorme Telephone by Ettore Sottsass
One hundred pieces from Bowie's collection will be sold at an auction at Sotheby's in London on 11 November 2016. The lowest-value items are expected to go for as little as £60, while the Carlton bookcase is estimated at £7000.
D'Antibes Cabinet by George J. Sowden
Cécile Verdier, Co-head of 20th-century design at Sotheby's, said: “The works produced by the historical avant-garde design collaborative Memphis Milano, led by Ettore Sottsass, could not have found a more receptive and tuned-in audience than David Bowie. This is design with no limits and no boundaries. When you look at a piece of Memphis design, you see their unconventionality, the kaleidoscope of forms and patterns, the vibrant contrasting colours that really shouldn't work but really do.”
First Chairs by Michele de Lucchi
The auction will be Sotheby's third to feature Bowie's collections since the pop star's untimely death in January. The first two, also scheduled for November, will focus on his store of contemporary art. Born and raised in South London, Bowie studied art, music and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963.
Metropole Clock by George J. Sowden
He was known for his alter egos (including the androgynous Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Thin White Duke) and was the subject of a major retrospective at London's Victoria & Albert Museum in 2013. His death followed the release of the wonderful Blackstar album, which featured a cover designed to reflect the musician's mortality by long-time graphic design collaborator Jonathan Barnbrook, who said of his friend and collaborator in his final days: “This was a man who was facing his own mortality. The Blackstar symbol (★) has as a sort of finality, a darkness, a simplicity, which is a representation of the music.”
Don' Table Lamp by Ettore Sottsass
The Bowie/Collector auctions will be accompanied by an exhibition, taking place from 1 to 10 November 2016 at Sotheby's on New Bond Street, London. We imagine most of it is probably too rich for our blood, but £60 is certainly within our wheelhouse, and we'd at least be interested to see what these remarkable, historic pieces go for, and, of course, who ends up taking them home!