Lauren Bacall auction draws a crowd, and unexpectedly high bids

Sale fetches US$3.6 million, with bidders from 34 countries taking part

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 April, 2015, 12:17pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 April, 2015, 6:34pm

Hollywood screen icon Lauren Bacall’s personal possessions from the precious to the mundane hit the auction block in New York, drawing plenty of fans and fetching some US$3.6 million.

Collectors jostled for a memento of the Oscar-winner from among 740 lots at Bonhams auction house. Including two bronze sculptures by British artist Henry Moore sold in November’s Impressionist and Modern auction by Bonhams, the Bacall collection fetched US$5 million.

More than 1,500 bidders from 34 countries vied for items that ranged from from fine art to kitchenware, and avant-garde to kitsch, and included jewellery and clothes, aboriginal and African art, English and French furniture and items bought in antique shops around the world.

Items that date from her marriage to legendary on-screen co-star Humphrey Bogart and sculptures by English artist Henry Moore were among the most prized items.

Most of the items sold were at or above the price estimates made by the auctioneers, Bonhams said.

A hand-coloured etching by naturalist John James Audubon, American White Pelican, fetched US$173,000, three times more than was expected, a Bonhams statement said.

Three-Quarter Mother and Child, a bronze sculpture by Henry Moore sold for US$118,750, more than three times the top estimate.  

From the Bogart years, before he died from cancer in 1957, was his black granite games table and a pair of silver candelabras from the couple’s marital home in Los Angeles.

The table brought in US$26,250 - almost nine times the estimated value.

An 18-carat gold, diamond, amethyst and turquoise ring designed by Jean Schlumberger, Bacall’s favourite designer, went for US52,500. An 18-carat yellow gold ropework bracelet by Schlumberger sold for US$50,000. A 14-carat yellow gold long chain by Tiffany sold for US$52,500 against an estimate of US$6,000-US$9,000.

An assembled set of four pieces of Louis Vuitton luggage monogrammed with Lauren Bacall’s initials sold for US$37,500, almost 11 times the upper estimate.

Bacall, one of Hollywood’s great golden age actresses, died in August aged 89 in her nine-room home overlooking Central Park.

The apartment was full of art by her many friends. A lithograph by US senator Edward Kennedy titled Daffodils and dated 1993, sold for US$7,500, more than eight times its high estimate. A lithograph by Henry Fonda called Norman Thayer, Jr. sold for US$10,000, more than 12 times its high estimate. 

The apartment, which she shared with her second husband, the actor Jason Robards, until 1969 is also on the market for US$26 million.

The proceeds of this week’s auctions will go to her three children.

Patrick Meade, chief executive of Bonhams US, said: "We are truly grateful to the Bogart and Robards families for entrusting us with their mother’s legacy."