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For Fabio Salini, This Is a Good Time to Give Back

LONDON — The dark days of the pandemic caused many people to reflect on their lot, some more deeply than others.

The Roman jeweler Fabio Salini was so shaken by the devastation he saw that he has donated more than 50 jewels, created in his signature bold and modernist style, to be auctioned at Sotheby’s in London in early September. They have a total estimated retail value of more than 2 million pounds ($2.4 million).

All of the proceeds will benefit Art of Wishes, an arts-based charitable initiative that supports Make-A-Wish UK, a charity that creates special experiences for critically ill children.

“The pandemic really signaled a great change in my life,” Mr. Salini, 59, said in a recent Zoom interview. “It taught me what really matters — relationships, simple things, important values — the rest is not really necessary.”

In early 2020, the designer, who started his career at Cartier and Bulgari before establishing his own business in 1999, had been putting the finishing touches on a major sales exhibition of his work in New York City. The show was to represent the culmination of several years of business expansion, in which he exhibited at international art fairs such as Pavilion of Art and Design (PAD) in London, the traveling Nomad and Masterpiece in London, and divided his time between his native Rome and a studio in London.

When the pandemic spread to Europe and the United States in March that year, the exhibition was canceled and Mr. Salini began to reflect on the purpose of his life’s work, a process compounded by the loss of his father to cancer in October 2021. “I consider jewelry art, so why should it only benefit wealthy people?” he said. “It should help those who really need it.”

The thought prompted him to meet with Batia Ofer, the London-based art collector and founder of Art of Wishes, for advice about how to raise money by donating his pieces. He was so moved by their discussion that he decided to donate all proceeds from the London auction to her charity.

Since its establishment in 2017, Art of Wishes has raised more than £8 million with a biennial art gala that has featured works from the likes of Anish Kapoor, Peter Doig and Julian Opie. “Fabio believes, as I do, in the transformative power of art, and this extraordinary gesture can be seen as the perfect expression of this,” Ms. Ofer wrote in an email.

The sale, part of Sotheby’s inaugural Luxury Edit series, will be in two parts. The first is a live auction on Sept. 7 in London of six major pieces, including a pair of black carbon fiber and diamond cuffs which carry an estimate of £60,000 to £100,000. The rest of the pieces are to be sold online, with bidding closing on Sept. 8.

Mr. Salini said the auction would mark the beginning of a new chapter in his life. He has given up his studio in London and decided that he will no longer exhibit at fairs, allowing him to reduce the number of pieces he creates a year and to focus more on teaching and consulting.

When he was a child, growing up in a wealthy family, Mr. Salini imagined he would end his life helping people as a missionary in Africa. Now, he said, “I want to use my talent and use my good fortune to help those who have been less fortunate.” Smiling, he added, “Maybe this is my personal African mission.”

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