Lalanne hippopotamus bathroom suite
The three-piece hippopotamus bathroom suite designed by François-Xavier Lalanne – sold for €1.75m (£1.59m) at Sotheby’s.

Image: Sotheby’s ArtDigital Studio.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Hippopotamus bathroom suite – €1.75m

As predicted, the top seller in Sotheby’s design auction was the hippopotamus bathroom set (pictured above) designed as a one-off by François-Xavier Lalanne (1927-2008).

The three-piece set was commissioned from the designer in the early 1990s by the vendor, a grandson of the Swiss animalier sculptor Edouard-Marcel Sandoz, who was inspired by a hippopotamus bathtub in blue resin that Lalanne had created for Marcel Duchamp and his wife Teeny.

The set, which is made from copper, gilt metal and patinated bronze, wood and ceramic, takes the form of a family of hippos with the ‘mother’ forming the bathtub/sink unit, and the two ‘children’ fashioned as a bidet and toilet. It sold for a hammer price of €1.75m (£1.59m) at the auction staged on June 25.

Alberto Giacometti’s ‘Aigle’ vase

Alberto Giacometti’s ‘Aigle’ vase – €1.2m (£1.09m) at Sotheby’s.

Image: Sotheby’s ArtDigital Studio.

Another notable result in the same sale was the double estimate €1.2m (£1.09m) paid for Alberto Giacometti’s 22.5in (57cm) high Aigle vase of c.1934 in painted plaster with the original zinc liner.


Snowflake light fitting – €280,000

A Snowflake Number 1 light fitting by Paavo Tynell (1890-1973) achieved €280,000/£254,545 (or €356,200 including premium) to head the Scandinavian section of Artcurial’s three-session Design series held from July 1-2.

Paavo Tynell’s ‘Snowflake Number 1’

Paavo Tynell’s ‘Snowflake Number 1’ light fitting – €280,000 (£254,545) at Artcurial.

Image copyright Artcurial

The one-off model from c.1947, which has 96 snowflake light elements, sold to a European collector for a sum that was triple the estimate and surpassed the previous auction high for the Finnish designer of €238,400 including premium set in 2017 in the same rooms for his Snowball light fitting.

Jean Royère wall light – €1.3m

Christie’s Paris Design sale on June 30 was topped by a piece by the French designer Jean Royère (1902-1981) when his Liane painted metal wall light sold for €1.3m (£1.18m) against a €400,000-600,000 guide.

Jean Royère light fitting

A ‘Liane’ light fitting commissioned from Jean Royère for a Paris apartment– €1.3m (£1.18m) at Christie’s.

The six-light fitting was one of 19 lots commissioned direct from the designer in 1962 to furnish an apartment in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, all of which sold. All the pieces were notable for their good condition (the wall light, for example, had retained the original Rhodoid shades).

The premium-inclusive price of Christie’s Liane light was €1.57m ($1.76m) which is just over the previous high for Royère of $1.75m including premium paid in May 2018 at Sotheby’s New York for an Etoile sideboard.