Bonhams’ auction last week of the Lauren Bacall Collection realized $3.46 million, closer to $5 million when you factor in two Henry Moore sculptures that sold separately in November. The sale included 32 lots from the legendary screen and stage star’s jewelry collection, which together fetched $503,000. Many pieces far exceeded their estimates.
The two-day auction included everything from household items from Bacall’s New York apartment to Impressionist paintings from her extensive art collection. More than 1,500 bidders from 34 countries attempted to purchase a piece of Old Hollywood glamour, demonstrating once again the mysterious but undeniable power of provenance.
The Value of Heritage
Speaking of the Lauren Bacall Collection jewelry, Susan Abeles, Director of US Jewellery for London-based Bonhams, told Forbes.com: “Estimates were regular market values. It’s impossible to calculate the value of provenance. Single owner high profile sales with glamour always produce unpredictable results—this was no exception. Obviously we expected the more sentimental jewelry to sell well…. I was surprised that her more classic jewelry, such as her south sea cultured pearl necklace sold well.”
Top Jewelry Lots
A 14k yellow gold long chain by Tiffany & Co. sold for $52,500, shattering its pre-sale estimate of $6,000 to $9,000. The necklace was a gift to Bacall from the director Ron Field, to commemorate her starring role in the 1971 Broadway musical Applause.
An 18k gold, diamond, amethyst and turquoise ring designed by Jean Schlumberger, Bacall’s favorite jewelry designer, also sold for $52,500. It was estimated at $8,000 to $12,000.
An 18k yellow gold and diamond bracelet designed by Schlumberger sold for $50,000, more than five times its high estimate of $9,000. A similar 18k yellow gold bracelet sold for $37,500. Bacall was frequently photographed wearing the bracelets together on the same wrist.
Other standout pieces included a Schlumberger bracelet of blue enamel and 18k yellow gold that sold for $35,000 (estimate $20,000 to $30,000); and a pair of Schlumberger amethyst, sapphire and emerald ear clips that sold for $22,500 (estimate $6,700 to $8,500).
A Mogul-inspired Elizabeth Gage Camel brooch of 18k yellow gold enamel, cultured pearl and rose diamond sold for $23,750, more than three times its $7,000 high estimate.
Read more about Lauren Bacall’s love of fine jewelry, including tender stories of gifts from her husband Humphrey Bogart, in her autobiographies “By Myself” and “By Myself and Then Some.”