Published: June 18, 2019
NEW YORK CITY — On June 5–13, Christie’s brought to auction an archive of more than 50 letters from Canadian poet, singer-songwriter and novelist Leonard Cohen (1934–2016) to his most famous muse, the inspiration for the song “So Long, Marianne,” Marianne Ihlen. The first online auction for the New York books and manuscripts department totaled $876,000, including premium, selling 100 percent by lot and 100 percent by value. The top lot of the online auction was “There is a crack, a crack in everything,” an Italian bronze bell, circa Fifteenth-Sixteenth Century, which sold for $81,250. The top letter from the auction was “Alone with the vast dictionaries of language,” Montreal, December 1960, realizing $56,250, compared to an original high estimate of $7,000.
Other notable results included “I am famous and empty,” typed letter signed (“Leonard”) to Marianne Ihlen (“My Darling Marianne”) with autograph annotations, New York, 8 November 1964, which realized $35,000; Cohen’s first major performance autograph letter, signed (“Leonard”) to Marianne Ihlen (“Darling”), New York, 23 February 1967, which totaled $35,000; and “Songs From a Room” autograph poem to Marianne Ihlen [Nashville, October 1968]. There was also an autograph letter signed (“M.”) to Leonard Cohen, no place, no date, which sold for $32,500.
Heather Weintraub, associate specialist, books and manuscripts, New York, commented, “These letters are exactly the sort of thing we love to handle: they are unpublished and fresh-to-market, with compelling content and impeccable provenance. The collection was estimated conservatively, and we are absolutely delighted with the outcome. We are thrilled that this material has spoken to so many of Cohen’s admirers around the world.”
For information, www.christies.com or 212-636-2000.
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