A functional family of water-closet Hippo sculptures designed by François-Xavier Lalanne finished at Sotheby’s Paris this month at €2.1 million.
Regular readers may recall that a Lalanne-designed sculpture from the same bronze family—a bathtub—went to auction at Sotheby’s in New York last autumn. It fetched $4.3 million against the buyer’s mid-2000’s investment of $168K.
This time around, the Hippo tub is augmented by a toilet-bidet, and a sink-vanity. The set—which uses wood, copper, gilt metal, patinated bronze, and glazed ceramic as materials—may have been sent to auction by the current owner in the wake of last year’s surprising high bid, and presumably sold under expectations.
According to Sotheby’s, the set was originally imagined as a mother and twins. Lalanne argued that Hippopotami cannot carry twins. Fair enough; a mother, child and friend were dreamed up.
Lalanne’s ‘Hippopotame’ series included another entry: a 1976 design that enclosed a wet bar.