The Day is Dunne

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Yesterday I went to an estate auction in the artsy enclave of Hudson, NY, about 120 miles north of the city. But it wasn’t just any country estate sale, it was the auction of the estate of investigative journalist and novelist Dominick Dunne, who died last year at the age of 83. The contents of both his New York City apartment and his Connecticut country home were on the block, in 261 lots at Stair Galleries. Antiques, furniture, art, and porcelain seemed to be the prevailing articles.

Of course, what interested me was the literary component. Dunne wrote for Vanity Fair, he authored several novels, and counted many celebrities among his close friends. So there were bound to be some books, and being close to home, I checked it out. There were many first editions, signed editions, inscribed editions, presentation copies, etc., though most quite ordinary. A 1975 first edition of Andy Warhol’s The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, inscribed to Dunne, and including a drawing of a Campbell soup can, was probably the highlight of the literary lots--and it sold for $900. Four Avedon and Leibowitz titles together as a group brought it $275. Seven Bruce Weber titles, with inscriptions, took in a surprising $1,600. I considered bidding on Lot 175, a group of forty assorted fiction titles that included a signed first edition of Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, a signed first edition of Auchincloss’ The Atonement, and a Pynchon first edition, but then decided I’d have to become a bookseller first. At $250, it came it under estimate, though.
Among the several literary multi-item lots were:

Gentleman's Reference Library--style, fashion, decor & art books with some signatures and inscriptions, which surprisingly went for $300 (a second lot of the same brought in $350, and a third $450; go figure!)

Assorted Hollywood Biographies--with signatures and inscriptions from Diane Von Furstenberg, Phyllis Diller, etc. $200.

Assorted Ephemera and Framed Photographs of Celebrity Friends--way over estimate at $175

Assorted Non-Fiction and Poetry Books (Gloria Vanderbilt, Erica Jong, etc.) for $200.

A limited edition of Gus Bofa's Malaises (1930), including fifty etchings in a three-quarter morocco binding. Estimate $750-$1000. Sale: $100. Should have bid on that one.

For me, though, one lot caught my eye that I hadn't noticed in the catalogue. The copy called it: American School (20th c.) still life with glass of juice. Not much fanfare. But the image sparked a memory in my brain of a New Yorker cover from the mid 1990s that I loved, showing a glass half empty (or full) of orange juice, which I cut from my magazine and pasted to my wall. Could it be, I whispered to my husband? No smartphone at hand, we decided to bid if the bidding stayed low, and it did. Very low! A few good Google searches once home with the prize, and I now know that it's the original art (oil on canvas) for a New Yorker magazine cover, January 1995, done by "HA," otherwise known as artist Bob Zoell. The artwork was likely a gift to Dunne, who wrote extensively about the O. J. Simpson case. An awesome find.

Happy to see book artist (and FB&C columnist) Richard Minsky at the auction too. He picked up a few items, including a great unsigned portrait of Dunne. All in all, a spectacular Saturday at the auction!

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