Hello-Hello, and Happy Monday to you.
Today we do a follow-up on our previous posts about the auction of Lilly Pulitzer’s estate items ten days ago. We begin with a snippet from Guy Trebay’s article about the event in Saturday’s NY Times.
They came from all over, seeking a fragment of Lilly Pulitzer’s life and a souvenir of a woman they called an icon. Will Bannister and his wife, Leslie, came from Fort Worth, Tex.; Brandon and Cheryl Forbes Plunkett from Nashville; and Eva Cox from Cleveland, where she had built up a kitty especially for an auction of property from the Pulitzer estate.
Some of the items up for auction.
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers
From Mr. Trebay’s story it sounds as if the auction house, Leslie Hindman, even spruced up its sale rooms.
… the auction house rooms were painted for the occasion in the raucous colors Pulitzer — untutored designer, daughter of Eastern aristocracy, nearly lifelong resident of Palm Beach, a 10-square-mile beach town where the richest Americans take their leisure — made her signature.
The story was titled, “A Designer’s Palm Beach Jumble Sale,” very àpropos.
“We expected interest but not this much interest,” the auctioneer Leslie Hindman said when the 500 bidders in the auction room on sale day were joined by 600 people who had registered on the Internet or planned to bid by phone.
The sale generated an awful lot chatter, as one would expect for someone of Lilly’s stature. From an Architectural Digest piece:
Given Lilly Pulitzer’s blue-blood origins and preppy preeminence, it comes as no surprise to learn that the fashion star—she of the sprightly shifts in whimsical prints and zippy colors—lived amid overstuffed classic upholstery, heirloom knickknacks, and polychrome flamboyance.
The contents of the bohemian Palm Beach compound… are being sold…. the 295 lots are lively yet largely undistinguished, but a few pieces deserve a shout-out, including several examples of stunning Victorian furniture, among them Pulitzer’s bargelike canopy bed.
Below, the bed mentioned above, described in the catalog thusly: “Victorian Bamboo and Lacquer Bedroom Suite, comprising a half tester bed, an occasional table and a side table.”
ESTIMATE: $1000 – $2000 SELLING PRICE: $22,500
Another of AD’s choices, the pair of 38-inch-tall Chinese export porcelain urns; this lot brought the highest price in the auction.
ESTIMATE: $2000 – $4000. SELLING PRICE: $42,500
The Architectural Digest post included the Victorian Painted Conservatory Birdcage.
ESTIMATE: $500 – $700. SELLING PRICE: $12,500.
Two more interior views of Lilly’s house.
Via the Glam Pad
The Guy Trebay story quotes Steven Stolman, Scalamandre Textiles President, and an authority on Lilly:
At the Jungle, Pulitzer’s sprawling compound on South County Road, Mr. Stolman noted, there were untamed gardens, three structures encompassing 11 bedrooms, a seven-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty, a flexible and always expanding menagerie of pets and friends and a Sub-Zero refrigerator upholstered in one of her tropical prints. “I knew I was in the presence of genius when I saw that,” he said.
The cast metal Statue of Liberty Mr. Stolman mentioned.
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers
ESTIMATE: $200 – $400. SELLING PRICE: $2,500
Robert Stevens/Brown, Rice, Stevens
The Orlando Sentinel also covered the auction.
The auction of furniture and decor from the lavish home of Lilly Pulitzer — a socialite known for her parties, personality, taste and clothing line — was reason enough to fly here on a moment’s notice for Cincinnati cookie shop owner Peggy Shannon.
“Because these things belonged in Lilly Pulitzer, they’re bringing in unbelievable prices,” Hindman said. “She was a very dearly loved lady.”
Pulitzer became famous as much for her approach to life as for her clothing line, fans said. Her sprawling Palm Beach home was decorated in colors and patterns as bright as the ones she designed for the shift dresses her clothing lines always featured.
The crowd at the auction.
The Orlando Sentinel
This Chinese Export Porcelain Jardiniere also exceeded its pre-sale estimate. Substantially.
ESTIMATE: $100 – $200 SELLING PRICE: $40,000
This oil painting seems to portray an element of Lilly’s decorating style: adorn your home with pieces and styles you like, not things that “will be a good investment,” or what an interior designer says “you should have.” The piece is a 1978 original by John Kiraly. (The catalog misspells the artist’s surname.) Mr. Kiraly is a well-known Florida artist, you can see why Lilly would appreciate his work.
ESTIMATE: $150 – 250 SELLING PRICE: $4500
We return to Guy Trebay’s article:
In keeping with Pulitzer’s unrestrained exuberance in all things, her house was a welter of mismatched objects held in harmony, though just barely, by the conviction of her eye: papier-mâché parrots on baroque consoles, Chinese porcelain urns next to concrete cats.
Robert Stevens, Brown Harris Stevens
One of the more interesting elements of the auction? Where the bidders were physically located; only a third of them were actually onsite in West Palm Beach. More from the Shiny Sheet:
The South Dixie Highway facility drew a crowd of about 400 people over the course of the sale of 295 lots that once graced the rooms of Pulitzer’s island house. Another 800 bid absentee, via the Internet or over the telephone, said Maura Ross, a director of Hindman’s Palm Beach office.
Bids came in from China, Great Britain, Ireland and across the United States.
It seems to me many items fetching higher prices are those offering a sentimental value, or a link to Lilly. Two watercolors by artist Tania Vartan show interiors of the house are a good example. It makes perfect sense to me this lot would sell well over its estimate, it offers someone a tiny slice of Lilly’s life.
ESTIMATE: $800 – $1200 SELLING PRICE: $3750
Another good example of sentiment trumping other criteria? Lot #283, the Printed Canvas Map of Palm Beach, the inflated (by some standards) price makes perfect sense to me.
ESTIMATE: $40 – $60 SELLING PRICE: $16,250
The Trebay article includes quotes from notable names in the land of Lilly Lovers; among them, Susan Romano Trader, founder of the wildly successful Re-Lilly page on Facebook.
Susan Trader was one of those who had made her way to Palm Beach from elsewhere — Cape Coral, Fla., in her case — determined to be first in line come sale day and claim a perch in the front row.
“Her whole premise was life is supposed to be fun,” said Ms. Trader, who bookmarked her catalog at a page picturing Pulitzer in her rich-hippie prime — flowers tucked in her hair, painted around one eye and with a lily sprouting from her décolletage. A Pulitzer quote accompanies the image: “That’s what life is all about: Let’s have a party. Let’s have it tonight.”
Not everything sold at wildly inflated prices. The 19th century oil painting was estimated to bring $500-700, it went for $688. The Enameled Table Casket estimate was $300-500, it sold for less than that, bringing just $188.
Again, the prices realized make sense. Neither item shrieks “Lilly,” the subdued colors and subject matter are at the opposite end of the spectrum from the vivid colors most associated with Lilly.
All told the auction brought in quite a sum of money, back to Robert Janjigian’s story in the PB Daily News, quoting Maura Ross from Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.
The total auction take was almost $600,000, which includes the buyer’s premium of 25 percent of the hammer price, which was significantly higher than Hindman’s pre-sale estimate of $132,310. No lots went unsold. “Many items, especially things that reflected Lilly’s distinct taste and fun-loving personality, went for triple or quadruple their original estimates,” Ross said.
Looking through the catalog a second and third time, I did not see several lots noted in the Leslie Hindman news release about the auction, notably the lots described in the news release about the event, a Tiffany Nautilus Lamp and Meissen Porcelain Fourteen-Piece Monkey Band, mentioned in our previous post about the auction.
You can view the entire auction catalog and prices realized by clicking here. If interested in our previous post on the auction, with some lovely interior photos of Lilly’s house, click here.
G’bye until next time!