Particularly interested in French and Italian furniture of the 18th century and Renaissance furniture, Helen Costantino Fioratti was inspired by her mother Ruth, who was the first female fine arts dealer of antiques in the United States. Because of this, she was bought up with antiques all around her. Ms. Fioratti had her first solo show when she was six or seven years old with a clay sculpture exhibit in the lobby of Hunter College Elementary School. Today, she serves as the president of noted art gallery, L’Antiquaire and the Connoisseur, Inc., in New York since 1988. She has also done interior design for the Royal Family of Kuwait, decorating multiple homes for them during the invasion of their country.
Notably, Ms. Fioratti and her late husband, Nereo, restored a tiny, 10th-century village of Radi di Montagna near Siena, Italy, between 1979 and June 1997. A superlative property that is actually a small hamlet at the top of a plateau with extensive views, the area is composed of a lovely Romanesque church and three houses on an enormous estate. The couple provided the financing for the project as well as some of the craftsmanship and labor. They also restored the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, located in Positano, Italy, which was the venue for their daughter’s wedding ceremony.
Prior to this role, Ms. Fioratti served L’Antiquaire as president and The Connoisseur as vice president from 1963 to 1982. A skilled jewelry and furniture designer, she has also held many one-woman shows displaying her paintings and illustrations. One of these shows sold out at the Sagittarius Gallery in New York in 1960 and 1962. Another sold out show was attended by Greta Garbo, Wallis, Duchess of Windsor and Stavros Niarchos, among many other wealthy socialites. Before pursuing a professional career, Ms. Fioratti matriculated at the Parsons School of Design in New York, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science. Since receiving this academic honor, her story has been featured by numerous prestigious news outlets.
A prolific writer, Ms. Fioratti has authored six books throughout her career, available for purchase on Amazon. Her most well-known written work is “Il mobile italiano: Dall’antichità allo stile impero” in 2004, which was commissioned by an Italian company and published by Gunti in Florence, Italy. Other notable titles include “Illuminating Their World: Three Hundred Years of Light, 1500-1800” in 2007, “Playing Games: Games and Their Players from Antiquity to the Present” in 2014, and “Please Be Seated” in 2016, as well as “How to Know French Antiques” and “Tempting Pandora.” Additionally, Ms. Fioratti has had articles published in Food & Wine Magazine and The New York Times, as well as one on food arts in a cooking magazine.
In order to keep up with trends in her field, Ms. Fioratti has maintained involvement with the Italy-American Society and the Accademica Italiana della Cucina, the latter of which is widely recognized as a cultural institution of the Italian republic and defends Italian food culture and its regional traditions. Likewise, she has served as an executive committee member of the Art & Antique Dealers League of America, the oldest and principal antiques and fine arts organization in the United States. Recently, Ms. Fioratti has been known to enjoy cooking and baking. She is the proud mother of one daughter, Arianna Cleonice, as well as a doting grandmother to one grandson, Nereo.
A factor or attribute that Ms. Fioratti feels has played a role in her success is having pure pieces and not buying anything repainted or refurbished. What she has learned over the course of her career that has most benefited her in her professional growth is to study and learn a lot before you plunge in. She would like to be remembered as someone who was willing to pass on what she learned. To summarize her life’s work in a single word, she would say that her life was “immersed” in art and cooking.