Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Merrill’s Auctioneers
WILLISTON, VT. – A second auction from the estate of Twentieth Century archeologist Iris Love was offered at Merrill’s Auctioneers December 10. The sale followed on the heels of the premier offering from Love’s estate on September 24 (see review here).
Love came to fame for her modern rediscovery of the Temple of Aphrodite in Turkey. She was widely publicized, but her appearance in print was dwarfed by that of her 15-year partner, Liz Smith, an Emmy-winning gossip writer for the New York Daily News, The Washington Post and Cosmopolitan, known as “The Grand Dame of Dish.” At one point, she was reportedly one of the highest paid print journalists in the United States.
The sale included relics from both of those lives, as well as others. Leading the Love estate was art by Turkish-American artist Burhan Dogancay. Three abstract watercolor and gouache works, all dated to 1979 and dedicated to Iris, sold for $11,210, $10,030 and $9,440. Dogancay and Love were undoubtedly connected in their passion for archeology – Dogoncay was a famed wall artist who told cultural stories through the exploration of partitions and their “archeological depth,” taking inspiration as far back as cave drawings.
A more historical work came in the form of an Eighteenth Century Tibetan thangka, painted on silk with homespun backing, that trounced its $1,000 high estimate to bring $5,900.
Love’s second act in life was a Vermont home where she raised award-winning dachshunds and Pekingese dogs. Her Pekingese, Malachy, won Best of Show at the 2012 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. There were numerous lots of figures related to dachshunds, including an 18K gold pin in the form of that breed that sold for $554 and a bronze table lamp that took $369.
More likely from the circle of Liz Smith were a number of original cartoons and illustrations. An original ink wash on paper work from New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams, “Miss Egan Bring Me Everything We Have On Cats,” went out for $5,843. From Edward Sorel, another illustrator for the New Yorker, came “Biting The Hand,” featuring an anthropomorphic man-poodle biting a woman in a blue dress. The pastel and wash on paper sold for $2,596.
Two signed photographs, both dedicated to Smith, were included in the sale. Selling for $1,599 was a photograph of Elizabeth Taylor inscribed, “Dearest Liz, The unshitiest journalist I know. You’re fun, too! Remarkable!! Love, Elizabeth.” A photo of Barbara Streisand inscribed to “Dear Liz,” called her “one of the positive people.” It took $185.
From the general estates portion of the sale came a Nineteenth Century reclining Buddha in carved and polychromed wood that sold for $21,240. It laid on a Nineteenth Century Chinese temple or console table.
All prices reported include buyer’s premium. For information, www.merrillsauction.com or 802-878-2625.