BASEL - The increasingly popular super-Tuscan property Ornellaia, owned by the Frescobaldi family, has embraced the idea of uniting art and wine in a project called Vendemmia d’Artista. For each new release, Ornellaia offers custom bottles with labels designed by major artists for sale in a charity auction conducted by Sotheby’s. The proceeds benefit a range of art foundations around the world – and at the close of April, we gathered in Basel, for a sale of large format bottles of the 2012 vintage adorned with glass sculptures by Swiss artist John Armleder, sold to benefit the Fondation Beyeler


AUCTIONEER STEPHEN MOULD

Blessed with wonderful weather we were able to begin the event with cocktails in the grounds of Renzo Piano’s outstanding art gallery. Caroline Lang, Ben Lamers and Sara Nateri from Sotheby’s Geneva office mingled with their guests, before we moved through the galleries adorned with works by Gauguin, Rothko and Picasso and downstairs for dinner. 


(FROM LEFT TO RIGHT): GHADA AMER AND REZA FARKHONDEH'S THE HARMONY FROM 2007; REBECCA HORN'S THE
ENERGY FROM 2008; MICHAELANGELO PISTOLETTO'S THE CELEBRATION FROM 2010; AND LUIGI ONTANI'S THE
EXUBERANCE FROM 2006. 

There we enjoyed Ornellaia 2003 and 2012 with the main course before the auction. After John Armleder explained his artwork for “L’Incanto”, I was fortunate enough to take the auction, flanked by two colossal Armleder works that resonated with his designs for the bottles. There was a terrific buzz in the room before the auction, and this was translated into spirited bidding from the 160 guests in the room for all nine works on offer.


AUCTIONEER STEPHEN MOULD

Sam Keller, the director of the Fondation Beyeler, John Armleder and all at Ornellaia were delighted with the total result. We realised over CHF200,000 to benefit the Fondation, and, after the auction, I enjoyed a glass of Ornellaia’s Ornus dell’Ornellaia 2009, followed by their Grappa Riserva – Eligio dell’Ornellaia – the perfect way to round off a magnificent evening.