Published: October 4, 2011
Doyle New York auctioned the personal collection of famed New York City restaurateur Elaine Kaufman to a standing-room-only crowd of bidders in the salesroom and hundreds of others on the telephones and the Internet. The September 20 auction comprised 242 lots of artwork, books, memorabilia, furniture, decorations, fashion and accessories that Kaufman collected or was given during her lifetime. These personal treasures were displayed at her restaurant, Elaine’s, and her elegant Upper East Side penthouse.
Competitive bidding resulted in a successful sale total of $385,734 †far surpassing the presale estimate of $187/287,000 †with 98 percent sold by lot and 97 percent by value. Only seven lots failed to sell.
Memorabilia from Elaine’s eponymous restaurant attracted a strong interest at the sale. The top lot from the restaurant was Elaine’s Table #1 with a set of four chairs. The first table in “The Line,” it was the most desirable table in the house; patrons sat at this table to see and be seen. Estimated at $400/600, it sold for $8,750 to a buyer in Massachusetts.
Other Elaine’s restaurant memorabilia fared equally well at the sale. The colorfully painted papier mache figure of a Christmas carousel horse that hung prominently in the restaurant’s front window soared past its estimate of $200/300, selling to a buyer from Connecticut for $4,063. The familiar vintage black painted metal cash register that sat behind the bar also sold for $4,063, many times its $400/600 estimate, to a buyer from Connecticut. A set of four oak bar stools estimated at $150/250 achieved $1,250 from a New York buyer. A butcher block table from the restaurant’s kitchen sold for $2,813, many times its estimate of $200/300, to a New York buyer.
Kaufman’s Upper East Side penthouse was her personal sanctuary. She filled it with her extensive collection of fine art and her beloved books, many of which were gifts from the authors †friends and patrons of Elaine’s restaurant.
Highlighting her collection of art was a photographic collage by West Coast artist Wallace Berman that achieved $41,250 from a California buyer. A small 1979 abstract executed in acrylic on canvas by Helen Frankenthaler soared past its $4/6,000 estimate to fetch $25,000 from a Midwestern buyer.
Kaufman’s collection of fine prints featured a colorful screen print of flowers by Andy Warhol that sold for $18,750 to a New York buyer. An etching and aquatint of a Panama hat by David Hockney achieved $11,875 from a Texas buyer, almost doubling its high estimate.
A collection of French Art Nouveau posters was highlighted by Alphonse Mucha’s “Salon des Cent,” which sold to a New York buyer for $25,000. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s “Mademoiselle Marcelle Lender, en Buste” garnered $13,750 from a buyer in Germany.
“I am pleased to be working with Doyle New York on this auction,” said Diane Becker, Elaine’s longtime restaurant manager who inherited her estate. “Elaine lived a long, happy and prosperous life. She lined the walls of her restaurant and home with artwork, books, photographs and memorabilia, some of which was given to her by the wonderful people she met night after night at her restaurant. I feel that this is the best †and frankly only †way I know to share Elaine with those she cared about most †her Elaine’s family.”
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For more information, www.DoyleNewYork.com or 212-427-2730.
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