R1.3m fridge sparks 'bidding war'

16 September 2021 - 14:36
Margaret Hirsch, executive director of the Hirsch’s Homestore Group, with the Smeg FAB28 Frigorifero D'Arte currently selling for R1.3m.
Margaret Hirsch, executive director of the Hirsch’s Homestore Group, with the Smeg FAB28 Frigorifero D'Arte currently selling for R1.3m.
Image: Supplied

An iconic Smeg fridge — brightly hand-painted by Sicilian artists and branded by Dolce & Gabbana — has triggered a bidding war that could see it sell for more than the R1.3m price.

The brightly coloured appliance is one of just 100 of the upmarket brand’s retro art fridges created in collaboration with the famed Italian designers Dolce & Gabbana, and is currently on display in the new concept store run by Hirsch’s Home Store Group, which opened this month in Constantia, Cape Town.

The bespoke fridges, described as functioning pieces of fine art, are hand-painted (at least 260 hours of work) by Sicilian artists.

Margaret Hirsch, executive director of the Hirsch’s Homestore Group, said the fridge was brought in as the showstopper piece for the opening of the first Smeg stand-alone store in Africa.

Natasha Pallotta from Smeg South Africa said a second fridge from the iconic range — this one featuring a donkey — was currently being shipped to SA from Italy and would be put on display in Smeg’s Sandton showroom in Johannesburg.

Hirsch said the fridge at the Cape Town store had attracted a lot of interest, and there were at least two serious customers ready to go head-to-head.

“I suspect we will end up selling for closer to R1.5m than R1.3m,” she said.

According to Hirsch, other items in the D&G Smeg “Sicily is my Love” collection have been extremely popular with customers drawn to the brightly coloured works, priced at R25,999 for an Espresso coffee machine, R10,499 for the kettle or R12,299 for the matching four-slice toaster.

According to the latest 2021 Africa Wealth Report, a growing number of super-affluent people on the continent — at least 130,000 US dollar millionaires and 22 US dollar billionaires — are fuelling the continent’s burgeoning luxury segment.

With privately owned wealth in Africa reported to be more than $2-trillion (R29-trillion), cash-flush individuals are blowing huge sums on upmarket fashion brands, luxury homes, fast cars, yachts, designer watches and flashy holidays at premium hotels and resorts.

They are driving Porsche, Bentley, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghinis and wearing global brands like Zegna, Louis Vuitton, Paul Smith, Gucci, Jimmy Choo and Dolce & Gabbana, said the report.

In April reality TV star Shauwn Mkhize of the show Kwa Mam'Mkhize — who owns a soccer team and a construction business — made the news when she bought herself a Rolls-Royce Cullinan. The British brand’s first designer SUV retails for around R16m.

The Knight Frank Wealth Report 2021 states that in December 2020 SA was home to 44,605 dollar millionaires, with the number projected to grow to 63,400 by 2025.

In stark contrast, the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group’s most recent findings are that 13.8-million people in SA live below the food poverty line, calculated by Stats SA to be people surviving on less than R624 a month.

Those keen to see the new designs at the Smeg concept store or the showrooms in Cape Town, Durban and Joburg will be offered a complimentary coffee freshly brewed in a Smeg machine.