Every Lot in the Lauren Bacall Auction Sells at Bonhams NY

New York—After a two-day, 20-hour marathon auction at Bonhams New York, all 740 lots of the Lauren Bacall Collection sold, totaling $3.64m.

With two bronze sculptures by British artist, Henry Moore, that had sold in November’s Impressionist and Modern auction, the final result for the entire Lauren Bacall Collection is $5m.

More than 1,500 bidders from 34 countries took part in Bonhams’ highest profile auction of the season.

The actress, who passed away in August 2014, lived in a spacious 4,000 sq. ft. apartment in New York’s Dakota Building where almost every item in the auction was on display.

Jon King, the Director and Vice President who orchestrated the sale, and who was a friend of Lauren Bacall, said, “We have been humbled by the worldwide outpouring of enthusiasm for this sale. Bacall’s legacy will live on in the homes of her countless admirers.”

Top lots include:

  • American White Pelican, an 1836 hand-colored engraving by artist and naturalist, John James Audubon, realized $173,000, almost 3 times its high estimate of $60,000. The work is from the Havell edition of The Birds of America, a book of illustrations by Audubon published between 1827 and 1838.
  • 2 landscapes by Albert York (American 1926-2009) titled Landscape with Trees; and A Country Fence, achieved a world record for the artist, selling for $161,000.
  • Three-Quarter Mother and Child, a bronze sculpture by Henry Moore sold for $118,750, more than 3 times its high estimate.
  • Gabrielle, circa 1993, a sculpture by Robert Graham that sold for $57,500, soaring past its high estimate.
  • An amethyst, turquoise and diamond ring by Jean Schlumberger achieved $52,500 against an estimate of $8,000 - 12,000.

Bogart and Bacall

Lauren Bacall was 19 when she made her screen debut in To Have and Have Not (1944) opposite Humphrey Bogart. They married soon after in 1945 and had a son and a daughter, Stephen and Leslie. Although Bogart passed away in 1957, the Bonhams auction clearly demonstrates that their romance still resonates with fans around the world, with the lots in the sale associated with Humphrey Bogart all achieving far more the high estimates.

  • Humphrey Bogart's Hartmann ‘Turn Table’ steamer trunk soared well past its high estimate at $47,500. (est. $1,000 - 1,500)
  • Humphrey Bogart's black granite and wrought iron games table, sold for $26,250, almost 9 times its high estimate.
  • Two American silver-plated table pieces presented to Humphrey Bogart by his friend Spencer Tracy sold for $16,250. (est. $1,500 - 2,000)
  • A German patinated bronze figure of Humphrey Bogart, cast by the Otto Strehle foundry, sold for $16,250, estimated $600 - 800.
  • A set of 6 books on yachting, achieved $4,375, more than eight times the estimated price. These books were in the library of Bogart’s yacht, the Santana, which he purchased from fellow actor Dick Powell in 1944. Bacall wrote in her autobiography, “The boat was [Bogie’s] only luxury—expensive, but it meant his health and peace of mind.”

Bacall the connoisseur

Lauren Bacall collected art throughout her life. As she wrote in her memoir, Now, “I filled my house with wonderful furniture and art to satisfy my aesthetic sense and as a way of building a solid life, subconsciously thinking that all would bring me stability, permanence.” Her superb connoisseurship was validated by the Bonhams saleroom.

  • Henry Moore, Britain’s greatest 20th century sculptor, was a good friend of Lauren Bacall. Bacall’s deep admiration of Moore began in the 1950s while she was living in Los Angeles, but it was not until 1975 that the actress was introduced to the sculptor by Robert Lewis of the Brook Street Gallery in London. Bacall owned a total of 34 works - sculptures, drawings and prints - by the artist. The top lot by Moore in this sale was Three-Quarter Mother and Child, which achieved $118,750, more than 3 times the high estimate. Previously in November, Bonhams sold a bronze sculpture by Moore, Working Model for Reclining Figure: Bone skirt that made $1.06m.
  • Two works by the American artist, Albert York (1926-2009), Landscape with Trees and A Country Fence, soared to a world-record $161,000. As Roberta Smith wrote in The New York Times, York’s paintings have a “geometric simplicity, flatness of form and workmanlike brushwork” that exude “a quiet modernity, as did their wholeness of composition and feeling”. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Paul Mellon were also admirers of York’s work.

Bacall the glamorous star

The Lauren Bacall Sale featured a strong collection of jewelry and fashion from Bacall’s wardrobe.

  • An 18-carat gold, diamond, amethyst and turquoise ring designed by Jean Schlumberger, Bacall’s favorite designer, achieved $52,500.
  • An 18K yellow gold ropework bracelet by Schlumberger that sold for $50,000.
  • A 14K yellow gold long chain by Tiffany & Co. that sold for $52,500 against an estimate of $6,000 - 9,000. From the fine link chain hang heart-shaped pendants each inscribed with a letter that spell out the words “To my own beautiful star from her proud director Ron.” It is believed this necklace was a gift to Lauren Bacall from her director Ron Field, for her starring role in Applause. In 1970, Lauren Bacall won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, and the show won Best Musical.
  • A Giorgio Armani black evening jacket that achieved $5,000, more than 12 times the high estimate. The jacket is embroidered all over with small seed beads, and trimmed with carved jet buttons.

Bacall and friends

Bacall’s apartment was filled with art by her many friends. As her son, Sam Robards said in Bonhams Magazine, “My mother was socially very democratic. She’d say, ‘C’mon up. Who’s in town?’ Our apartment was a jumping-off point.” 
Lots in the sale included:

  • Jamaican hillside road, an oil by celebrated English playwright, director, composer, singer and actor, Sir Noël Coward (1899-1973), which fetched $10,000, twice the high estimate. Lauren Bacall appeared in a television production of his work Blithe Spirit, in which Coward also starred as did Claudette Colbert.
  • A lithograph by Senator Edward Kennedy titled Daffodils, dated 1993, achieved $7,500, more than 8 times its high estimate. It is signed in pencil in the bottom right corner with “Ted K.” The work is in an edition of 100 that was originally a wedding gift to his wife, Vicki. It is inscribed by Senator Edward Kennedy with the words, “Betty, You are the greatest, much love, Ted,” and counter-inscribed by his wife- To Betty, we hope that your heart, too, with pleasure fills and dances with the Daffodils, Vicki.”
  • A lithograph by Henry Fonda (1905-1982) titled Norman Thayer, Jr., 1980, which sold for $10,000 more than 12 times its high estimate.

Bacall the homemaker

Some of the more unusual items in Bonhams’ sale included:

  • A Cartier 14K gold double picture frame made $9,375 against an estimate of $1,000 - 1,500.
  • A pair of colorful English majolica garden seats, fourth quarter 19th century, which realized $5,250, past the estimate of $2,500 - 3,500.
  • A large majolica bear wearing a basket on its back, fourth quarter 19th century, which fetched $6,250, well past the high estimate of $3,500.
  • An assembled set of four pieces of Louis Vuitton luggage monogrammed with Lauren Bacall’s initials that sold for $37,500, almost eleven times the high estimate.

CEO of Bonhams US, Patrick Meade commented, “We are truly grateful to the Bogart and Robards families for entrusting us with their mother’s legacy. With its wide-range of specialist departments, Bonhams is perfectly placed to bring this sale to auction. But we were thrilled by the astonishing response to the auction. Every lot had bidding on all platforms—online, on the phones and in the room. It was the perfect storm.”

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