Savoy Dynasty’s Everyday Life Showcased in Geneva Auction

The upcoming House of Savoy auction is anticipated to yield up to $168,000 in proceeds. The auction features a diverse array of items, including porcelain figurines, a white faux-leather sofa, and a foosball table, providing a unique peek into the everyday life of royalty.

Over 200 objects from the former Geneva residence of Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, the son of Italy’s last king, Umberto II, and his wife Marina, will be available for bidding this week. Enthusiasts of royal history might be intrigued by an exquisite 18th-century tea cup, a modernist chess set, or two motorcycles once owned by the couple’s 51-year-old son, Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy.

Some of the items will be available for online bidding until September 18, while others will be featured in an in-person auction hosted by the Geneve Encheres auction house two days later. Collectively, these objects are expected to fetch between 100,000 and 150,000 Swiss francs ($112,000-$168,000).

Cyril Duval, a partner at Geneve Encheres, emphasized that the estimated values were secondary, as the collection is more about the emotional connection. He stated that this auction allows collectors to acquire items they may have admired in magazines or on screen.

The collection comprises historical memorabilia and household items from the villa the Savoy family constructed in the 1970s in Vesenaz, on the outskirts of Geneva. Vittorio Emanuele, who is now 86 years old, is the head of the House of Savoy, a family that was compelled to leave Italy after the monarchy was abolished in 1946.

Among the auction items is a motorcycle previously used by Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy, described as a “20th-century rock and roll prince.”

The auction includes “a 19th-century dinner set used during a ball hosted by Queen Victoria in London City Hall,” according to Duval. Additionally, there are objects related to the Savoy family’s heritage, such as engraved silver coat of arms and porcelain figurines, as well as bronze statuettes reminiscent of the modernist interior style of the Geneva villa. The collection also contains more contemporary items, including one of the two motorcycles—a 1941 Indian Sport Scout—with an estimated price of 15,000-20,000 Swiss francs ($16,800-$22,400). This motorcycle once belonged to crown prince Emanuele Filiberto, a 20th-century figure known for his rock and roll persona with tattooed arms. He often enjoyed riding motorcycles with Johnny Hallyday, the late French rock legend.

Duval clarified that the auction is taking place after the prince and princess sold their Geneva villa this year, opting to reside in their luxury Swiss ski resort home in Gstaad instead.

Vittorio Emanuele’s family history is marked by exile and the end of the Italian monarchy. He was born in Naples in 1937, shortly before the monarchy’s demise, which forced his family into exile due to his grandfather Vittorio Emmanuele III’s collaboration with Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime and anti-Jewish laws during World War II. Vittorio Emmanuele III abdicated in May 1946 after a 46-year reign, and his son Umberto II succeeded him but ruled for just a month before a June referendum abolished the monarchy. It wasn’t until 2002 that the Italian parliament lifted the constitutional ban on the House of Savoy’s male heirs returning to Italy after Vittorio Emanuele and Emanuele Filiberto pledged loyalty to the republic, but they have since predominantly resided in Switzerland.

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