She was one of the most wittily acerbic voices of her generation, and when the comedienne Joan Rivers unexpectedly died in 2014 after a routine medical procedure, her death generated as much sadness as it did shock. But she was always more than just an acid-tongued commentator: Joan was also a connoisseur of the fine arts, and now the contents of herNew York penthouse is going up for sale via Christie’s. There will be 200 lots in the Wednesday June 22 auction in New York (with viewing from Friday June 17) and a further 80 lots in an online auction, running from June 16 to 23.
“The Joan Rivers Collection embodies the multifaceted spirit of the native New York comedian, actress, writer, producer and award-winning television host,” says Gemma Sudlow, Christie’s specialist head of private and iconic collections. It is also a measure of her success (Rivers once recounted that when she told her accountant how she was decorating her apartment “he wept on the phone”), with lots ranging in price from $500 to $200,000.
Given the sometimes eye-watering nature of her comedy, the lots are surprisingly traditional: highlights include a French ormolu-mounted mahogany, sycamore and fruitwood marquetry commode (third picture) by François Linke, with mounts designed by Léon Messagé, from 1905, estimated at $100,000-$150,000; a painting by Edouard Vuillard, Dans L’Atelier (second picture), estimated at $120,000-$180,000; and a gold and platinum mounted amethyst and diamond Fabergé brooch (first picture), dating from about 1900 and estimated at $20,000-$30,000. There are also considerably less pricey items, including a collection of table linens estimated at $500-$800, while the online auction is mainly clothes, jewellery and bags.
“As the first female host of a late-night network television talk show, well-known for her co-hosting of E!’s Fashion Police and her acerbic but honest and clever remarks, Joan Rivers stood for legendary entertainment and eclectic tastes,” says Sudlow. “From her coveted collection of pieces from Fabergé, Harry Winston and Chanel to a Tiffany dog bowl [estimate $500-$800] and silk pagoda dog bed [estimate $1,000-$1,500], the offerings from her collection show both sides of her personality: the exuberant energy and the refined connoisseur.”
The auction also nods to the fact that she was an animal lover – the catalogue features a picture of her in the middle of her sumptuous abode surrounded by three dogs, and some of the proceeds will go to the charities God’s Love We Deliver and Guide Dogs for the Blind.