The Hotel Bauer Palazzo, an iconic symbol of grandeur overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice, is embarking on an ambitious renovation project. In order to make room, the storied palace sold off many of its historic furnishings in a $2.2 million auction.
The auction included more than 10,000 items from the interior of the Bauer, grouped into 4,000 lots from Murano glassware to tableware, silks, textiles, and artisanal pieces of furniture commissioned from esteemed Venetian and Italian manufacturers.
The two-part sale included four live auctions that have just concluded, plus three upcoming online auctions (through May 4). The live sales—hosted by French auction house Artcurial in the regal rooms of the Hôtel Marcel Dassault in Paris, where recreations from the Bauer’s rooms were staged—netted a sum total of €1.5 million ($2.2 million), including fees, with 100 percent of the lots sold. According to Artcurial, the presale estimate for the entire two-part sale is €1.2 million ($1.76 million).
The highest earning lot from the live portion was an exceptional pair of three-pronged Venetian wall sconces that greeted visitors in the Bauer’s great reception hall, netting €158,064 ($232,000)—fees included—against an estimate of €30,000–€50,000 ($44,000–$73,000). Made in the 1950s in the style of 17th-century Murano glassmaking, each sconce is topped with a standard of the lion of Venice. The sconces were hand-crafted according to the oral tradition by the Seguso dynasty of glassmakers from a single model made during the Renaissance and kept at the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory.
Among the other treasures on offer are pieces from luxury textile houses Rubelli and Bevilacqua, upholsterer Alessandro Vianello, Italian furniture-maker Bussandri, and master glassmaker Seguso Vetri d’Arte, based on the famed island of Murano. Some of the more unique furnishings include curved Venetian chests of drawers and armchairs, as well as baroque-style cabinets from one of the Royal Suites. In addition, contemporary furniture from the terrace of the Settimo Cielo (Seventh Heaven) restaurant atop the Bauer is also available.
The sale is a chance for collectors and design enthusiasts to acquire a piece of Venetian history from one of the most celebrated hotels in Venice. Previously, Artcurial sold the contents of other five-star hotels including the Hôtel de Crillon, Hôtel Plaza Athénée, and Hôtel Ritz Paris.
Since its founding in 1880, the Hotel Bauer Palazzo has maintained a rich history of art and architecture, as well as the city’s cultural heritage. The building itself is a prime example of Venetian Gothic and Renaissance styles, with its ornate facade and grand interior spaces. Since the beginning, the hotel has held an extensive collection of fine art, antiques, and furnishings, many of which have been passed down through generations of the Bauer family.
Aside from the sale, the hotel is a treasure trove of art history. Its walls are adorned with paintings, sculptures, and other works of art from artists around the world, including Titian, Canaletto, Tiepolo, and Rubens. The collection also boasts 20th-century works by the likes of Picasso, Matisse, and Klimt, who was known to be deeply inspired by the city’s art and architecture, particularly the mosaics in its churches and basilicas, which he incorporated into his best known works, including The Kiss.
Perhaps no other art-world figure is as closely associated with the Bauer as Peggy Guggenheim. The famed art collector and patron was a frequent visitor to Venice and stayed at the hotel on several occasions. While she ultimately purchased the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni to reside and to house her modern art collection, the Bauer hosted a major retrospective of her collection in 1951, curated by Marcel Duchamp.
The hotel’s partnership with Artcurial is an opportunity to support the renovation of the Hotel Bauer Palazzo, which is set to reopen in 2025. Proceeds from the sale will fund the sustainability-focused remodeling by Venice-based architect Alberto Trosello and interior design group BAR Studio. Among refurbishments aimed at earning the hotel eco-friendly certification, the duo will repair the hotel’s original Gothic-Byzantine facade, as well as the ornate balustrades of its grand Neoclassical staircase designed by Venetian architect Lorenzo Boschetti in 1880—an enduring icon of the hotel.