Pasta family to sell spaghetti porcelain

By Giulia Cambieri

If you’re looking to add a few pieces to your fine porcelain and ceramic collection, you could be in luck, as Giovanni and Gabriella Barilla’s collection will be auctioned in London on 14 March.

The auction’s catalogue, which comprises more than 400 lots with an estimated value of £2.5 million (€2.99 million), includes figures by Kandler representing commedia dell’arte – a form of Italian theatre – and rare Capodimonte and Buen Retiro pieces.

Considered one of the world’s most important collections of German and Italian porcelain, the lot also features 18th century furniture and paintings as well as 15th century manuscripts.

However, the highlight of the sale is The Spaghetti Eater by Giuseppe Gricci, which was made around 1770. It features a group of children eating spaghetti and is expected to fetch up to £25,000.

Maybe the couple, who descended from Italy’s famous pasta-making dynasty, bought it as a momento of the family business, after Giovanni and his brother Pietro sold the Barilla Group to US-based W R Grace and Company in 1970.

Giovanni and Gabriella started collecting porcelain during the 1960s and, after moving to Geneva, went on to dedicate an entire room of their villa to the valuable collection.

Pietro Barilla, Giovanni’s grandfather, founded the eponymous company in 1877. The company, which was bought back by the founding family in 1979, is currently headed by fourth-generation brothers Guido, Luca and Paolo. In 2010, it posted revenues of €4 billion.