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    Contents of Versace's home sell for 7m pounds

    Date: 20 Mar 2009 | | Views: 2825

    Source: Agence France-Presse
    LONDON — The contents of fashion designer Gianni Versace's opulent villa on the shores of Italy's Lake Como sold here Wednesday for more than seven million pounds, Sotheby's auction house said.

    Over 12 hours of heated bidding, the 545 lots from Villa Fontanelle outside Milan sold for a total of 7,411,919 pounds (10,390,769 dollars) -- double the pre-sale high estimate of up to 2.8 million pounds.

    The biggest sale of the day was for the exceptional pair of Italian cherry wood bookcases from Versace's bedroom, which sold for 481,250 and 601,250 pounds respectively -- more than four times their pre-sale high estimates.

    Two huge statues of naked Greek boxers Creugas and Damoxenos, plaster copies of Antonio Canova's Pugilists which also adorned the bedroom, sold for 433,250 pounds, more than ten times the top estimate of 40,000 pounds.

    Villa Fontanelle was said to be the favourite home of the designer, who was shot dead in Miami in 1997. He described it as "the house that really belongs to me, reflecting a mirror image of all that I am, for better or worse."

    Located 30 miles (50 kilometres) from Milan, it was used for lavish parties attended by Princess Diana, Madonna, Sting and Elton John.

    One of the flagship lots in Wednesday's auction had to be withdrawn amid confusion over its ownership and fears that it might have been stolen.

    Johann Zoffany's portrait of Major George Maule, an English official in India in the 18th century, was estimated to sell for up to 60,000 pounds.

    But it was withdrawn after a direct descendant of Maule spotted a picture of the painting in a newspaper and contacted the Art Loss Register -- the world's largest private database of lost and stolen art.

    The descendant sent the ALR a photograph of the portrait where it hung over a mantlepiece before it "vanished", a spokesman for the ALR said. An investigation is now underway to establish who was the rightful owner.


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