Lauren Bacall's art collection in Hong Kong for pre-auction show

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 January, 2015, 6:38am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 January, 2015, 6:38am

US actress Lauren Bacall was one of the brightest stars of Hollywood's golden age. Her seductive, throaty voice and glamorous image set her on the path of a long and successful career on the stage and screen. It started in 1944 with her first movie, Howard Hawks' adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway novel To Have and Have Not, when, at the age of 19, she played opposite Humphrey Bogart, by then a huge star who became her lover on the set and later her husband.

The film was the first of more than 40 for Bacall, among them The Big Sleep and Key Largo with Bogart, How to Marry a Millionaire with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, Designing Woman with Gregory Peck, and the all-star Murder on the Orient Express.

Bacall died last August in New York at the age of 89, and now an impressive art collection assembled by the screen star is on an international tour. Hong Kong is the first stop with the collection on show at Bonhams saleroom in Admiralty. It then heads to London, Paris, and Los Angeles before being sold at auction at Bonhams in New York on March 31 and April 1.

The collection includes works by some of the greatest artists of the 20th century.

"We're delighted to share with the public a rare insight into the world of Lauren Bacall, the accomplished collector. Her collection is truly a reflection of her extraordinary taste and remarkable life," says Jon King, Bonhams' vice-president and director of business development.

Most of the 750 lots are from the Los Angeles home that Bacall shared with first husband, Bogart; in Amagansett, New York; and her final residence, an apartment in New York's Dakota Building, which she shared with second husband, Jason Robards, until 1969.

Highlights are six bronze maquettes by Henry Moore, Britain's greatest 20th century sculptor and one of Bacall's favourite artists. Bacall's deep admiration for Moore began in the 1950s while she was living in Los Angeles.

Perhaps some of the most fascinating highlights include the collections of Henry Moore bronze maquettes and Robert Graham sculptures, as Bacall had well-documented close personal friendships with both artists. The maquettes range in value from US$12,000 to US$60,000 each; the Graham sculptures from US$1,000 to US$35,000. Other notable highlights are the two Audubon prints of pelicans, the American White Pelican [estimate US$40,000 to US$60,000 and the Brown Pelican [estimate US$30,000 to US$50,000].

Some of the actress' most-loved jewellery pieces were created by designer Jean Schlumberger. Other items going under the hammer include an 18-carat yellow gold, enamel, cultured pearl, and a rose diamond Mogul-inspired camel brooch by British jeweller Elizabeth Gage. This piece is accompanied by the original drawing and correspondence from the jeweller, revealing a true collaboration and friendship between the jeweller and the client.

Contemporary and modern prints by David Hockney, Jim Dine, Richard Avedon, Henry Moore and John James Audubon as well as paintings by Sir Noel Coward, Aaron Shikler and Georges Wakhevitch will also be featured.

King says the auction would appeal to a wide variety of people: memorabilia collectors, fans as well as traditional fine arts and antiques collectors.

"The auction is not a celebrity memorabilia sale in the traditional sense - it is an auction of fine art and antiques collected by a well-known and well-loved celebrity.

"Lauren Bacall was an accomplished collector in many categories - modern and contemporary art, tribal works of art, faience, majolica, furniture, brass and pewter, to name a few. She travelled in art, literary and political circles - examples of this are seen in the offerings from her library in particular."