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Italian banking houses have a long and rich history in the arts, buying beautiful palazzos and villas and lavishly furnishing them. The property offered here comprises collections from two such financial institutions - the Banca Popolare di Novara and the former Banca Sannitica.
The Banca Popolare di Novara, a prominent Piedmontese bank founded in 1871, became a major force through its role in the reconstruction of Italy following WWI. Its headquarters were situated in the impressive 16th century Palazzo Bellini in Novara, which was refurbished in the fashionable Rococo taste in 1751 by the Bellini Counts.
The Palazzo has an extraordinary history of accommodating prominent and interesting people. In 1800 Napoleon Bonaparte visited while in Italy for his second military campaign. In 1849, after defeat in battle, King Carlo Alberto of Savoy went to the palace and there decided to seek exile abroad and abdicate the throne in favour of his son Vittorio Emanuele II. The year 1859 saw the French Emperor Napoleon III lodging at the mansion for three days while preparing military strategy with the then King Vittorio Emanuele II.
The Banca Sannitica's head office was located in the heart of Naples on Via San Carlo. The bank was founded in 1889 by members of the Neapolitan bourgeoisie with the aim of improving trade and agriculture in the economically depressed area of Sannio. The bank was controlled by the renowned Perlingieri family from the late 1920's and prospered after WWII opening several branches in the region in the 1950's. Part of the collection, some of it purchased through auctions in London and Geneva, furnished the beautiful 16th century Villa Dei Papi in Benevento which the bank restored to its former opulent glory in the 1970's.
The villa has its origins in the mid 16th century, was rebuilt in the late 17th century, and bought in the mid 19th century by Marquis Pacca's family. They created a magnificent Gothic villa embellished with the four towers still standing today, splendid gardens and an open-air theatre. The villa was sold to Banca Sannitica in 1976.
In 1988 the Banca Popolare di Novara acquired a minority share in Banca Sannitica, and by 1995 acquired full control. As a result of the merger, part of the furniture collection was moved and used in other historical premises of the bank in Rome, Milan, Turin and Florence. A subsequent merger in 2002 saw a programme of rebuilding and reassessment, with the collection reunited in Verona. Christie's is now delighted to bring this interesting and varied collection to the auction market.