So, yesterday was a very busy day here. Now that the auction is over, I just thought I’d post a few things here to wrap things up:
I’ve really got to applaud Debbie Reynolds for all the work she put into maintaining this collection over the years. Not only did she have a great eye for the really important pieces, she did a wonderful job of keeping them in good condition. Things that are white can be especially hard to maintain, but Audrey Hepburn’s Ascot dress from My Fair Lady looked as pristine as the day Audrey first wore it. She certainly tried to get her museum up and running, but I’m happy she was able to preserve this stuff for as long as she did.
This was actually the first of I believe three auctions of items from Debbie’s collection. I don’t know whether or not I’ll be live blogging the other auctions yet. Judging from the traffic I got yesterday, there was definitely a demand for live updates and it was fun knowing I was offering better coverage than mainstream news outlets, but the auction ultimately ran for over twelve hours. If the other auctions have fewer lots for sale, I’ll definitely consider it.
Speaking of live coverage, a video stream with audio really would have been nice. I mean really, they were able to have two cameras for different angles, it really wouldn’t have been difficult to get audio, too.
As for the auction itself, I don’t think there were a lot of huge surprises. I think everyone expected the costumes worn by Marilyn, Audrey, the Wizard of Oz pieces, Chaplin’s hat and Harpo Marx’s hat to be big draws and they definitely were. Profiles in History really low-balled their estimates and in a lot of cases, literally, all I had to do was blink and the high end of the estimate would already be blown clear out of the water. I think I actually laughed out loud when I first looked through the catalog and saw a $200-300 estimate on a lot of three Gloria Swanson lobby cards from the silent era. I was not at all surprised when the bidding flew to $1,200 within seconds.
There were a couple of surprises, though. I thought the Barbara Streisand stuff would have gone for a lot more, the dress she wore to sing “My Man” in Funny Girl only went for $16,000 and her famous gold dress from Hello, Dolly (which cost $100,000 to make in 1969) sold for $100,000. Even though that still exceeded the estimate, consider this: according to Inflation Calculator, $100,000 in 1969 is over half a million in today’s money. So basically, that dress somehow depreciated in value. I kinda thought the Garbo gown would have sold for more just because not only was she one of the biggest stars of the era, she’s also the most mysterious and stuff she wore on screen really doesn’t turn up very often. Most surprisingly, I was shocked that a couple of Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. costumes did not sell. I can’t believe that someone out there paid for something worn in Grease 2, but two Doug Fairbanks costumes didn’t sell. But on the other end of the spectrum, a few things resulted in bidding frenzies I didn’t expect, specifically the Marion Davies portraits and the furniture from The Good Earth.
Of course, one big question remains: who on earth bought all this stuff? I’m sure more details will come out in the next few days, especially if there were some high profile bidders. According to this article, a lot of stuff was bought by someone representing a Japanese museum and the test costume from The Wizard of Oz and ruby slippers were bought by someone in Saudi Arabia with lots of money from oil. This article names Oprah as a rumored bidder for Marilyn Monroe’s white dress. It also says a lot of Hollywood stars were phone bidders, it would not be surprising if some of those turned out to include Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, or Hugh Hefner. I will update this post if I find more articles that name buyers, or stay tuned to the Facebook page for updates.