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Joan Didion property sale: See which gadgets offered for giant bucks

“We all know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a time when we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead.”

Joan Didion wrote that in “A Year of Magical Thinking,” her 2005 memoir by which she grieved the 2003 loss of life of her husband, fellow author John Gregory Dunne.

“Let them become the photograph on the table,” Didion added.

On Wednesday, practically one 12 months after Didion’s personal loss of life, a web based property sale of her belongings was held in New York Metropolis. Among the many 224 gadgets up for grabs, each the {photograph} (a 1968 portrait of Didion by Julian Wasser) and the desk (an oak desk she utilized in her workplace) have been offered for a mixed complete of $87,000 — far past their projected value.

Together with different items of furnishings and her guide and fine-art collections, the gadgets have been from Didion’s residence on the Higher East Facet of Manhattan, based on Stair Galleries, the public sale home behind “An American Icon: Property From the Collection of Joan Didion.” Proceeds will go towards the Sacramento Historic Society and Parkinson’s analysis and affected person care at Columbia College.

Didion, a Sacramento native, died in December 2021 attributable to problems from Parkinson’s illness at age 87 in her New York dwelling.

By the shut of the sale late Wednesday, the public sale had generated practically $2 million, based on the Bidsquare web site, which hosted the public sale.

Didion, whose work is the “elusive” topic of a brand new exhibit on the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, was a significant affect on the literary world. Maybe in an try and memorialize her, followers paid huge sums in Wednesday’s gross sales, typically exceeding estimated values.

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Lisa Thomas, director of the Tremendous Arts Division at Stair Galleries, stated it’s frequent for gross sales at a high-profile public sale to surpass their typical market worth. Besides, among the bids exceeded even her personal expectations.

“Some of these prices are unusually high, even given where they come from,” Thomas advised The Occasions. “$27,000 for a pair of sunglasses seems like a lot. I was pleasantly surprised.”

Thomas was referring to arguably the buzziest of items in the auction, a pair of Céline faux tortoise-shell sunglasses, which were expected to fetch several hundred dollars but sold for $27,000. In some of the more iconic images of Didion, she is seen donning such thick-framed sunglasses.

Didion wrote in a 2011 essay for Vogue that among her childhood fantasies was to stand in front of a South American public building, recently divorced, “wearing dark glasses and avoiding paparazzi.”

Several other pairs of sunglasses sold for a more modest $4,250, while a bundle of prescription glasses went for $10,000.

Though Didion’s final days were spent in New York, she lived much of her life in California — and was deeply associated with it. The aforementioned photo, which sold for $26,000, was a framed portrait of Didion from the iconic 1968 Time magazine shoot, where she is seen with a cigarette in hand, leaning against her Stingray Corvette parked in the driveway of the Hollywood house she shared with her husband.

Joan Didion, left, and husband John Gregory Dunne photographed in 1987.

(Patrick Downs / Los Angeles Occasions)

Among the gadgets at Wednesday’s sale have been initially from California earlier than making their method to Didion’s Manhattan residence, together with one of many largest gross sales, an workplace desk with a mix of oak, maple and walnut, inbuilt Sacramento, which offered for $60,000.

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The most important sale of the public sale was an oil portray of Didion from 1977, which was estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. It offered for $110,000. Didion was photographed in entrance of the portray quite a few occasions, the public sale home stated.

For the merchandise that obtained essentially the most bids — 49 — consumers scrambled over a framed, 6- by 4-inch paper cutout of an invite to an artwork exhibition by American artist Bruce Nauman. Estimated worth: $200 to $300. Ultimate sale: $32,500.

In Didion’s 1968 assortment, “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” she wrote an essay, “On Keeping a Notebook,” the place she ruminated on her impulse to put in writing issues down in notebooks so as to “record what we see around us.”

The romance of that essay wasn’t misplaced on consumers, who snatched up bundles of Didion’s clean notebooks for $11,000 a bit.

Thomas was additionally happy by the hefty value tags on smaller gadgets, akin to a paperweight and different desk gadgets, which collectively offered for $8,000.

The public sale, which started Wednesday morning after accruing pre-bids, wrapped up late within the afternoon with its ultimate sale: six silver candlesticks for a mere $8,000.

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