Once in a while the major auction houses announce so called Estate sales auctions, meaning that the Estate of a certain person sells a great number of personally owned items at auction. There are many examples of incredible Estate sales including the 1988 Andy Warhol auction at Sotheby’s and the 1999 Marilyn Monroe auction held by Christie’s.
Buyer’s get an exclusive opportunity to buy items with a first-hand provenance obtained directly from the Estate. It can be everything from stage- or screen-used clothes and accessories to personal belongings such as a record or a book collection. The variety is huge. However, the headlines always go to significant items for the person in question. For example, the historic dress that Marilyn Monroe wore on May 19, 1962 during her iconic performance when she sang “Happy Birthday” to John F. Kennedy was one of the finest items in the Monroe auction at Christie’s 1999. Why? Well, when we think of Monroe – we think of that performance. If Paul McCartney’s personal property ever finds its way to the auction block, then his iconic Höfner bass guitar will be the million-dollar-item. It’s a musical instrument that is characteristic for McCartney which he has used since the early Beatles days until today. The guitar itself is an icon!
Alexander Bitar History are proud to offer two pocket watches that’s been personally owned and used by John Lennon and Andy Warhol respectively; both items were a part of their Estate sales auctions at Sotheby’s in 1984 and 1988. The provenance and authenticity for these two items are as solid as it can be.
In recent years, Christie’s sold the personal property of the former U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 2016, which was followed by Sotheby’s 2018 auction of Frank Sinatra’s personal property.
By now you may think that Estate sales only are relevant for people that aren’t alive anymore. That’s incorrect. Julien’s Auctions have offered Estate sales of both Pelé and Ringo Starr to mention a few. Another significant auction was held by Christie’s in 2019 when they offered the personal guitar collection of the Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. The auction fetched a total of 21.5 million dollars… Gilmour was kind enough to donate all the proceedings to ClientEarth.