Do You Dream of Using a Hippo as a Bathtub (or Toilet)? Now Sotheby’s Is Offering a Full Les Lalanne Hippo Bathroom Set for $2.7 Million
The hippo bathtub, sink, and bidet is one of the highlights of Sotheby's design sale in Paris this June.
All the bidders who lost out on buying the bronze hippopotamus-shaped bathtub by the French designers François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne—which sold last fall for a stunning $4.3 million, nearly three times its high estimate—now have another chance.
A second hippopotamus tub—and two other lavatory hippos—are going on sale at Sotheby’s “Important Design” sale in Paris this June. The auction house will offer a unique Lalanne copper, gilded metal, and patinated bronze hippopotamus bathroom set that includes the tub, a hippo that holds a sink and vanity, and another with a toilet and bidet. The trio, sold as a set, is estimated to go for €2.5 million ($2.7 million).
Sotheby’s has had a strong run with Les Lalanne-related sales in recent months. In October, a two-day, white-glove sale of the designers’ collection brought in $101.5 million at the auction house’s Paris location, quadrupling its presale expectations. The event saw more than 4,000 bidders from 43 countries.
“Following our landmark two-day auction of the personal collection of the late artist duo Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne last October, it is a great feeling to once again be surprised and delighted by the genius of Les Lalanne, with perhaps one of their most brilliant metamorphoses,” said Florent Jeanniard, head of 20th century design at Sotheby’s Europe, in a statement.
The set was commissioned in the 1990s by an unnamed collector, who was the grandson of Swiss sculptor Edouard-Marcel Sandoz. The collector had known the Lalannes since the ‘70s, when he met the couple’s daughter Valérie Kling.
Inspired by the blue-resin hippo tub the Lalannes previously created for Marcel Duchamp, the collector and his wife approached the designers with the idea for the bathroom set. The hippos were originally pitched as triplets, but, according to Sotheby’s, François-Xavier balked at that idea, noting that hippopotamuses are not capable of conceiving twins. Eventually, they settled on a mother (the bathtub) and her two children.
The June sale is currently scheduled as a live auction. Per its policy, the auction house says any changes to this schedule will be announced “approximately 30 days prior to the existing sale date.”
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