- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

LONDON (AP) - The contents of late fashion designer Gianni Versace’s fabulous Italian villa will be sold in London next week, giving curious fans a chance to see a display of his artwork and furniture.

The London auction house Sotheby’s has tried to re-create some of the rooms from the Villa Fontanelle with the neoclassical items Versace used to decorate them.

“This is the last opportunity to enter into Versace’s world and buy something from a collection that is representative of his legacy,” said Mario Tavella, a Sotheby’s spokesman.

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The 550 items on sale Wednesday are expected to fetch about 2 million pounds ($2.75 million).

Versace, shot dead in Miami in 1997, loved to entertain at Villa Fontanelle, a yellow 19th Century villa on the banks of scenic Lake Como. Among his weekend guests were Princess Diana, Madonna, Sting and Elton John.

He collected a number of paintings and statues along with antique furniture, bookcases, chandeliers, and many busts of Roman emperors. Sale highlights include life-size casts of Antonio Canova’s Pugilists, which were arranged in Versace’s bedroom, and a rare pair of Italian cherrywood breakfront bookcases by Karl Roos.

The sale will also include armchairs, wardrobes and other items designed by Versace, known for his attention to detail and extravagant taste.

Typical of a more expensive item in the auction catalog is a nearly 200-year old carved walnut couch inlaid with fruitwood expected to sell for more than 10,000 pounds ($13,750).

The prominent designer was killed outside his Miami home, one of several luxury properties he owned throughout the world. The contents of those houses were sold shortly after his death, but the Versace family held on to Villa Fontanelle for some years, giving it up for sale only last year, when it was purchased by a Russian businessman.

Versace’s fashion empire was taken over by his sister Donatella and his brother Santo after his death.

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