Two hundred works spanning the restaurant’s 37-year history will be auctioned by Bonhams on February 28, a month after the restaurant serves its last meal on January 29.
While the auction catalogue has yet to be finalised, Luke Sciberras’ The Kitchen of the Golden Era, for example, is valued at between $2000-$4000.
In a statement issued on behalf of Bonham, Galletto said food and art were like the “air that I breathe”.
“I grew up in the family restaurant in Italy where we had an art gallery, so it has always been in my blood,” he said. “It is very important for me personally and, also, I think for our customers as well. The combination of great food, great service and great art on the walls is, in my view, one of the best dining experiences you can imagine.”
Among the art on display in the restaurant is a collection of 15 plates designed and styled by artist friends to celebrate 15 years of being in Paddington. They have been added to over the years by names including Sciberras, John Beard, Tim Storrier and Elisabeth Cummings.
The relationship between patron and artist was often mutually creative. In 2009 Garry Shead and Adrienne Levenson’s portrait of the proprietor entitled The Soffritto of Lucio was a finalist for the Archibald Prize. In the same year, the artists put the finishing touches to a large mosaic version of one of Shead’s Kangaroo paintings that was installed streetside by the restaurant’s entrance.
In 1999, former restaurant critic Leo Schofield described Lucio’s as the closest thing to a “salon” in Sydney.
“Everyone knows Lucio’s. Everyone loves Lucio’s… Hither are drawn tycoons, the shakers and the shaken, budding plutocrats, fading stars. But most of all artists. Any good salon needs a peppering of creative types, and they have always seemed attracted to this spot. It is a happy place,” he wrote.
It wasn’t only artists who were drawn to the restaurant’s traditional Italian specialties. Paul Keating, Malcolm Turnbull, and former Crown Resorts chairman John Alexander have been diners as have Al Pacino and Billy Crystal, Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison, and opera singer Jose Carreras.
The Gallettos’ son and daughter, Matteo and Michela, are now looking to spearhead the family tradition at another larger location.
“I’d like to go to another old building with charm, somewhere in the east,” Galletto told this masthead last year. “I’m really proud of what Sydney has become. When I arrived here, it wasn’t always easy to find a great place to eat. Now we have nothing to envy of the rest of the world.”
Linda Morris is an arts writer at The Sydney Morning Herald
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