Late British musician David Bowie’s substantial collection of Memphis furniture is to be auctioned off. Before his death on January 10 this year, Bowie was a big fan of the Memphis design group and Italian designer Ettore Sottsass’s work. During his lifetime, Bowie had accumulated more than 100 items of numerous sizes. Notable parts of his collection include Ettorre Sottsass’s Carlton bookcase, the ‘Valentine’ Portable Typewriter, Martin Bedin’s Super Lamp, and Peter Shire’s Bel Air armchair.
Lot 478: Peter Shire ‘BEL AIR’ ARMCHAIR. Lacquered wood with wool upholstery, with its original wood crate. (Courtesy Sotheby’s)
The items will be sold at Sotheby’s auction house in London on November 11 this year. Now Sotheby’s third auction since Bowie’s death, items are expected to fetch between $70 and $8,600 (the Carlton Bookcase being the item in question touted for that price).
Lot 401: Ettore Sottsass and Perry King ‘Valentine’ Portable Typewriter. Designed 1969. Moulded ABS plastic, metal, rubber. (Courtesy Sotheby’s)
“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,” said Cécile Verdier, co-head of 20th-century design at Sotheby’s. “This is design with no limits and no boundaries,” she continued. “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.”