Princess Fredericka “Bo” Guirey lived an unapologetically glamourous life. Called a “supersonic jetsetter” by the British tabloids in the 60’s, she at one time had residences in London’s Belgrave Square, a country estate in Ireland, and then inherited the famous Sigrist House in Nassau from her mother, Lady Ormerod. Bo was the daughter of Sir Frederick Sigrist, a British aviation pioneer in the early 20th century, and a founding member of Hawker Siddeley, who developed the famous Spitfire and the 1 ½ Strutter whose prototype was the “Sigrist Bus”, among others. It was widely speculated that Sigrist was one of the top ten wealthiest people in the world during his lifetime.
Sigrist House was built in 1937 in Nassau by the architects Schoepell and Voivesky, an American and English design team. The interiors were largely furnished by the notable British firm of Mallett Antiques on New Bond Street, London. The gardens at Sigrist House were considered among the finest in the West Indies. The house is Spanish Colonial in architecture, but the interiors decidedly English. The Georgian style paneling of the drawing room is of rare white mahogany, built in London to specification, as was the beautiful hand-carved pine paneling in the library. On offer in our October auction are the George III Style Giltwood Low Table inset with a Chinese Export Reverse Painting that was a focal point in the drawing room and the fine George I Cut Gesso and Giltwood Table attributed to Thomas Moore that sat on the left side of the marble fireplace in the drawing room. The furniture was appointed with exotic Chinese porcelains and jades. One of particular note was made by Edward J. Farmer as a silver-mounted jade cup-formed ashtray. The walls of the house were hung with Old Master landscapes, seascapes and floral still life paintings. An unusual Regency Giltwood and Ebonized Convex Mirror originally hung in Princess Guirey’s Belgrave Square home that was designed by David Hicks is also on offer.
Sigrist House was the setting for many glamorous parties, the seating charts were precise, the flowers in abundance and cocktails flowed for many decades. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were among some of the royal guests to stay at Sigrist House. The Windsors camped out there for months in 1940 while the Governor’s Mansion was being redecorated to the Duchess’s liking.
Princess Guirey was raised in London, Nassau and Monte Carlo. After receiving her inheritance in the late 50’s the world was her oyster. Her first marriage was brief, followed by her second marriage to Irish film director Kevin McClory at age 22. McClory directed and produced several James Bond films, including Thunderball and Never Say Never Again. Slim Aarons took the iconic photograph of the stylish Bo and her family riding in the amphicar across the harbor in Nassau. It is symbolic of the extravagant life she led; capricious, fun-loving and always on the go.
Princess Guirey’s third marriage was to Prince Azamat Guirey (1924-2001). Prince Azamat was born in New York, educated at Yale University and spent many years with the stock brokerage firm of Burnham & Co. The Prince’s title is a Khanate of the Crimea, which was formed in 1449 as an independent state by clans of the Mongolian Golden Horde. The Prince’s prestigious ancestors include Haci Giray who became the first ruler of that region and was said to be a decedent of the 11th generation of Genghis Khan (1162-1227), the founder of the Mongolian Empire. The couple lived at Garretstown House in Dunshaughlin, Ireland, London and Nassau.
Princess Guirey’s Nassau home was a mixture of antiques, paintings and decorations from Sigrist House, combined with exotic pieces from Anthony Redmile’s shop in London and David Linley’s bespoke creations made specifically for her. Tables were laden with frogs of varying sizes and materials, such as jade, hardstone, crystal, as well as silver examples from Aspreys. The Princess once was quoted as saying that she had to kiss a lot of frogs to find her prince. Juxtaposing an Orville Bulman painting over a gilded Georgian table with the Linley parquetry screen, her interiors, like her life, reflected her proper British upbringing and the carefree air of the West Indies.
The last few decades of Princess Guirey’s life were spent in Ireland and Nassau. She enjoyed painting and promoting Bahamian and International artists through the organization Art International. Organizing exhibitions of sculpture, paintings and drawings by artists from Zimbabwe, The United Kingdom, Scotland, the United States, and France. Her philanthropic interests included the Seahorse Institute, a school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Stair Galleries is pleased to be offering contents from Sigrist House in Nassau and Bakhchysarai, her home in Lyford Cay which is named after the ancestral palace in Crimea. Included in the auction on October 28th and 29th will be furniture, silver, porcelain, fine art and sculpture.