Auction of David Bowie’s Personal Collection of Memphis Furniture

David Bowie’s extensive collection of pieces by the Memphis Furniture group is set to be auctioned in London.

Before his death earlier this year, the musician was an avid collector of works by Italian designer Ettore Sottsass and the Milan-based Memphis group.

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Enorme telephone by Ettore Sottsass, designed in 1986

Over the years, he had managed to acquire over 100 pieces, including the iconic Super Lamp by Martine Bedin and Sottsass’ Carlton bookcase.

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.

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“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 added. “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.”

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First chairs by Michele de Lucchi, designed in 1983

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.

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Metropole clock by George J. Sowden, designed in 1982.

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 V&A in 2013.

His death followed the release of his Blackstar album, which featured a cover designed to reflect the musician’s mortality by long-time graphic design collaborator Jonathan Barnbrook.

Auction of David Bowie's Personal Collection of Memphis Furniture memphis furniture Auction of David Bowie's Personal Collection of Memphis Furniture David Bowies personal collection of Memphis furniture goes up for auction

Don’ Table Lamp by Ettore Sottsass, designed in 1977.

“This was a man who was facing his own mortality,” said Barnbrook.

“The Blackstar symbol [★], rather than writing ‘Blackstar’, has as a sort of finality, a darkness, a simplicity, which is a representation of the music,” said Barnbrook.

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Adesso Pèro bookcase by Ettore Sottsass, designed in 1992.

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.

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