7 Bookish Items from Karl Lagerfeld’s Estate

Courtesy of Sotheby's

The estate of fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld is being liquidated in a series of sales, both live and online, that began last week and continue into mid-December. There are many (many) Dior jackets, loads of Baccarat crystal, and three Rolls Royces. But since Lagerfeld was known for his immense personal library, the bibliophiles among us may ask: where are the books? Not here. And yet, there are several bookish items worth checking out. Let’s pause on seven that caught my eye.

Book Cover Projects. Little is known about these artworks (pictured above), save that they are gouache and ink with gold highlights on cardboard, some pasted on paper, and dated circa 1920, according to Sotheby’s. Most do look like book cover designs, one perhaps an endpaper design (?) and one a set of spine designs. Quite an interesting lot, estimated at €800-1,200 ($900-1,350).

Fashion Sketchbooks. A set of four scrapbooks with Lagerfeld’s fashion sketches in marker, pen, and ink, ca. 2000, toes the line between book and art. The unique quality of this lot is what may be driving bidders way past the high estimate of €800 to—as of this morning—€17,000 ($19,300).

Courtesy of Sotheby's

Victor Hugo Autograph Letter. Hugo is one of the very few authors that turn up in these sales. The novelist penned this letter (pictured at left) to fellow French man of letters, Alphonse de Lamartine, in 1848 following the February Revolution, calling him a man of little faith. The auction estimate is €3,000-5,000 ($3,400-5,600).  

French Poetry Manuscript Pages. Second to the aforementioned Hugo, Lagerfeld also cherished four pages of Charles Marie René Leconte de Lisle’s “The Abduction of Europa,” published posthumously in Derniers Poèmes (1895). The current bid of €300 ($340) is falling short of the €400-600 ($450-680) estimate.

Aubrey Beardsley Drawings. Art and design dominate these auctions, but since Beardsley is widely known for his book illustration, he earns a place on this list. This set of five ornamental drawings—Squatting Devil Fishing, Three Stylized Leaves, Two Dog Roses, Bunches of Grapes Leaves, and Convolvulus leaf—appear to have been used in such a capacity, for title pages or perhaps bookplates? This lot is estimated at €5,000-7,000 ($5,600-7,900).

Courtesy of Sotheby's

Inspirational Notebooks. Like the sketchbooks mentioned above, these three fashion ‘scrapbooks’ (pictured at left) are unique bound volumes, each containing newspaper clippings, photos, and notes from the 1980s. Estimate: €3,000-5,000 ($3,400-5,600).

Library Table. Maybe a cheat, but this sleek Corian, aluminum, and resin table designed by Martin Szekely, of which Lagerfeld owned two, is famously pictured in the Lagerfeld’s library. Each table is estimated to bring €20,000-30,000 ($22,500-33,900).