‘Luxury ran through his veins,’ says François de Ricqlès, president of Christie’s France, of Alberto Pinto, the celebrated interior decorator. ‘He had a great sense of proportion and really understood houses. He knew how to create extraordinary interiors, and that is why his career was so brilliant.’ From 12-14 September, Christie’s Paris will offer The Collection of Alberto Pinto, featuring objects from his Paris apartment.
Alberto Pinto was born in Casablanca in 1943 to Argentine parents. After studying at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris, he moved to New York and launched a photographic agency specialising in art and design. He shifted to interior decoration in the late 1960s, opening his own Paris firm in 1968. Today it employs 80 people and creates interiors for houses, yachts, aircraft and corporate premises around the world, with clients ranging from the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia to the Lanesborough and Dorchester hotels in London.
Pinto was a dedicated collector, and amassed an exceptional array of works sourced from auction houses, galleries and international art fairs. The September sale at Christie’s Paris, which runs concurrently with the Biennale des Antiquaires, includes 1,000 lots that reflect the decorator’s passion for art from the Renaissance to the 21st century.
The collection spans tableware, silverware, European and Asian porcelain, and linen, of which Pinto was undoubtedly one of the greatest collectors. There are also significant Impressionist artworks; classic furniture; statuary; and design, including major pieces by Claude Lalanne.
The silver section includes more than 250 pieces by French, Italian, English, Russian and Portuguese silversmiths. Among the highlights is a large selection of animals acquired directly by Pinto from Luiz Ferreira, the Portuguese master in this category, renowned for his intricate creations inspired by the natural world.
A consummate host, Pinto was passionate about creating the perfect table settings for his guests. Over the decades he acquired numerous porcelain services from Portugal, England and France. Of the porcelain lots offered at auction, one of the most important is an early 19th-century French ornithological service, with an estimate of €15,000-20,000.
Welcoming friends and sharing an enjoyable moment around a table was key to Pinto’s philosophy of life. Each table setting offered an excuse to refresh his interiors. It is only fitting, then, that the auction will feature almost 100 linen items with estimates ranging from €100 to €2,000.
‘Pinto built up a unique collection of antique linen, comprising table linen and bed linen with wonderful Richelieu openwork embroidery and lace insets,’ says Lionel Gosset, head of private collections at Christie’s. ‘Crowns or coats of arms decorate damasks featuring decorative embroidery of plants or animals.’
The Impressionist and Modern Art section includes a portrait of Lucien Guitry by Edouard Vuillard, previously featured in the 2003 Vuillard retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris. The Post-war and Contemporary Art offered include works on paper by Alexander Calder, a portrait of Audrey Hepburn by Vik Muniz, and pieces by Marc Quinn, Philippe Hiquily and Man Ray.
‘He was a passionate collector,’ says Linda Pinto, Alberto’s sister. ‘He followed all the sales, visiting antique dealers, art fairs and exhibitions. I decided to entrust Christie’s with this sale because I love the idea that people can treat themselves to a piece of Alberto’s world, his universe.’