THE extraordinary furniture and fittings of the home of `Time Lord’, Severin Wunderman, who built up the Gucci watch franchise and owned the Swiss watch brand Corum, will go on sale at Bonhams on September 30th.
The magnificent eight-bedroom Chelsea home was his UK base until his untimely death last year at the age of 69. Mr Wunderman also owned a French Chateau in the Cote d`Azur and a penthouse in Los Angeles; but the four-storey Chelsea house was an extension of the man in its physical demonstration of his personality following a brush with lung cancer in the 1990’s. This was a man fascinated by the passage of time, and so Severin Wunderman filled his London home with a strange and eclectic mix of skulls, watches and images that spoke of time passing.
One visitor to the house described it as: “By turn, grand, quirky, magnificent and arresting with its collections of skulls, carved head tobacco boxes, pug inkwells, stacked on the shelves.” The house also boasts a bedroom in the garden modelled as a chapel.
Charlie Thomas Head of Furniture at Bonhams Knightsbridge who has catalogued the Wunderman home says: “I’ve never seen anything quite like it. There is evidence everywhere of Severin’s collecting passions and the breadth of his taste. It has been a privilege to work in this home as it will be to sell its many beautiful and extraordinary objects and furnishings.”
Furniture and fittings from the 600 lot Bonhams sale will be used to recreate a selection of the rooms in this unique home. Visitors to Bonhams New Bond Street will be free to walk through the settings that once housed a most enigmatic man who built up two of the world’s greatest time-keeping businesses, watches worn by powerful and wealthy men round the world. His untimely death seems to emphasize his awareness of how fleeting time is and that all the wealth in the world cannot stop the clock of life from ticking independently.
Severin Wunderman was the last patron of French surrealist Jean Cocteau and something of this theatricality is also evident in this outwardly seeming classic English Chelsea home.
Forty years of collecting with an eye for decorative effect is evident in this house which boasts stunning chandeliers, extraordinary staircases and no fewer than 150 walking canes, groups of Napoleon images, timepieces, and dozens of glass finials amongst an Aladdin’s cave of treasures.
The Bonhams auction will be used to fund the Severin Wunderman Foundation which is based in the USA.
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son and Neale UK. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America and in August 2003, Goodmans, a leading Australian fine art and antiques auctioneer with salerooms in Sydney, joined the Bonhams Group of Companies. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street, and Knightsbridge, and a further seven throughout the UK. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Boston in the USA; and Switzerland, France, Monaco, Australia, Hong Kong and Dubai. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 57 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, go to www.bonhams.com. (01-08) For other press releases, go to www.bonhams.com/press.