Fan bids propel Lena Horne estate auction to unexpectedly strong finish

By Susan Sliwicki

Langston Hughes Books

A trio of inscribed Langston Hughes books sold for $5,000.

Fans of Lena Horne were eager to bid on items including fine art, costume jewelry, fashion, books and furnishings that the entertainment legend enjoyed during her life.

Horne’s Feb. 23 estate auction, which featured roughly 200 lots from Horne’s home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, brought $315,976, said officials at Doyle New York auction house. That’s more than double the pre-auction estimate of $99,500 to $155,000.

Prominent celebrities and institutions were among the bidders competing on the telephones, via the Internet and in the crowded salesroom for lots including elegant costume jewelry, accessories, gowns, memorabilia, decorations, silver, furniture, books and fine art from Horne’s home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. All of the lots sold, the auction house said.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Lena Horne (1917-2010) began her professional life at 16 in the chorus line at Harlem’s Cotton Club before moving to Hollywood and appearing in a series of acclaimed film roles. Beginning in the 1950s, she focused increasingly on live performance, becoming one of the world’s premiere nightclub entertainers. Through her many recordings and television appearances, millions more became her fans. She died May 9, 2010 at the age of 92.

Louis Vuitton Small Trunk

Horne's Louis Vuitton Small Trunk sold for $20,000.

Auction highlights included:

FASHION AND ACCESSORIES
• A Louis Vuitton small trunk, measuring 22″ x  24″ x 19,” with stickers inscribed Lena Horne Hayton:$20,000.
• A Louis Vuitton trunk measuring 27-1/2″ x 39-1/2″ x 23-1/4″ and monogrammed H.H.R. Honolulu, with a Louis Vuitton label: $8,125.
• A Giorgio di Sant Angelo reversible mink coat featuring indigo embroidered cotton and dark brown mink: $8,125.
• A Louis Vuitton soft leather vanity case measuring 9″ x 15-1/2″ x 9″ and monogrammed L.H.:$6,250.
• A pair of gold metallic leather cuff bracelets studded with mirrored discs and rhinestones: $6,250.

HOME FURNISHINGS
• Reed & Barton sterling silver flatware service for 12 plus serving pieces, Francis I pattern, 99 sterling and two wooden pieces: $5,625.
• A Rococo-style gilt-metal and glass 12-light chandelier, 41″ tall x 30″ diameter: $4,375.

"Abstract" by Charles Alston

The oil on canvas piece "Abstract," signed by artist Charles Alston, brought $20,000 at the Lena Horne Estate Auction.

FINE ART
• Charles Alston’s signed oil on canvas painting, measuring 40″ x 30,” titled “Abstract”: $20,000.
• David Burliuk’s signed oil on canvasboard painting, measuring 9″ x 12,” titled “Fishing”: $12,500.
• Geoffrey Holder’s signed and dated oil on masonite painting, measuring 48″ x 24,” titled “Lena”: $10,625.
• Photographer James Van Der Zee’s signed gelatin silver print, framed, measuring 6-3/8″ x 3-7/8,” titled “Atlantic City, 1930″: $9,375
• A group of five contact sheets (gelatin silver prints) from a photo session by Richard Avedon of Lena Horne: $8,750
• Peter Lambda’s bronze sculpture measuring 37-1/4,” titled “Lena” and signed with his monogram and dated 1950 at the base: $5,938.
• Pablo Picasso’s signed (in blue crayon) color linocut 26″ x 21-1/4,” titled “Vallauris 1956 Exposition”: $5,625.
• Jacob Lawrence’s signed and numbered (98/200) “Schomburg Library” lithograph measuring 26″ x 20″: $4,688.
• An archive of Lena Horne publicity items, including a signed photograph, several film stills and photos of Horne performing, as well as head shots, a concert program and other ephemera: $3,750.


BOOKS
• Langston Hughes’ inscribed copies of “Simple Speaks His Mind,” “Masters of the Dew” and “Fields of Wonder,” in worn jackets: $5,000.
• A group of approximately 20 books about the Civil Rights movement and political subjects, each signed or inscribed to Lena Horne: $4,688.
• A group of approximately 35 fiction, poetry, biography and children’s books each signed or inscribed to Lena Horne: $4,063.

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