CARPINTERIA, CALIF. — Bidders came prepared to buy when the Oprah Winfrey collections came to auction at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club November 2. With offices in Beverly, Mass., and San Diego, Calif., Kaminski Auctions conducted the sale that drew 3,000 to the live auction with more than 10,000 Internet bidders placing more than 7,500 bids online. The event raised $600,000 for the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls and the College Fund in Henley-on-Klip, South Africa.
Four little words made all the difference in the sale — “Property of Oprah Winfrey.” Winfrey gathered material from her Montecito home and three other properties in Chicago, Indiana and Maui. Her friends and fans supported the sale with active and very competitive bidding.
Auctioneer Frank Kaminski gave Oprah some tips on auctioning and she took the gavel to sell the first five lots. Reluctant at first, she slid easily into the role of auctioneer. When the first lot, an original unframed canvas banner for the 1985 film The Color Purple in which Oprah played Sofia, achieved $4,920 against the estimated $1/2,000, she was stunned. The banner was unframed but autographed by the star, she was even more amazed when she sold its mate for $7,200.
Oprah got $5,400 for Phoebe Beardsley’s 1988 collage of The Women of Brewster Place in which she also performed. Oprah got what may be a record price of $8,400 for the Nineteenth Century pastel landscape by Chicago artist Henry Charles Payne that was estimated at $700–$1,200. She elicited $8,400 for the Twentieth Century collage with watercolor and gouache, “Ladies’ Day VI,” by Chicago artist Allen Stringfellow. By the time she handed the gavel back to Kaminski, she was cutting off the bids when she thought people were paying too much for her pieces.
Other artwork across the block included Phoebe Beardsley’s collage “Change the Face of Brewster Place” that realized $5,200. An oil pastel scene of four solemn little girls peeking through window blinds by Hilda Robinson realized $7,200 against the estimated $300/500. Clementine Hunter’s oil on board nativity scene with angels overhead fetched $7,500.
Margaret Taylor Burroughs’ “Cubist Women” was signed and dated September 3, 1998, and inscribed “To Miss Oprah Winfrey Herself with thanks…” and went out at $15,600. The folky “Mother and Child” by Key West artist Jack Baron may have achieved another record at $4,500.
A contemporary Impressionist oil on canvas, “Embarcadère a Bruges” by Jean Jacques Gauvrit was estimated at $700–$1,200 and achieved what may be a record price of $4,500.
The cover of a 1987 issue of TV Guide with Oprah on the cover was autographed and exceeded its $200/400 estimate when it reached $3,600. The autographed print of the cover of a 1987 edition of TV Guide featuring Oprah was estimated at $200/400 and garnered $3,600.
Six Eighteenth Century Louis XVI à la reine fauteuils by Jean-Baptiste Lelarge sold for $72,000. A 76-inch Louis XVI bench by Sylvain-Nicolas Blanchard in the same embroidered upholstery realized $12,000. An Eighteenth Century Louis XVI oak cabinet with light green and cream paint wash, glazed doors and a hand carved crest was a relative bargain when it sold for $10,200, just under estimate. An Eighteenth Century marquetry bureau with ormolu mounts was stamped “Boudin,” for Paris ébéniste Léonard Boudin. It realized $25,200.
An Eighteenth Century Louis XV fruitwood commode with shell carving realized $7,920, and a Nineteenth Century English burlwood veneer tilt top breakfast table with satinwood and ebony inlay fetched $7,800. An Eighteenth Century French armoire with burl wood doors and a carved floral crest sold for $4,800. An Italian sink cabinet with a butterscotch marble top estimated at $500/700 went for $6,600, while a Biedermeier-style three-drawer chest, converted to accommodate a sink, was estimated at $750–$1,250 and realized $6,000. A Nineteenth Century Louis XVI-style bureau plat with ormolu mounts, a cream colored leather top and ivory painted surface, fetched $10,200.
Modern furniture was also desirable. A set of four cherry armchairs with ebony supports from the Sella line designed by Leon Krier for Giorgetti was $9,300, while a set of four other Giorgetti cherry chairs in the same upholstery was $6,600.
Two custom made home theater sofas, each 156 inches wide, were upholstered in crushed green velvet with heavy roped fringe. One had eight coordinating pillows in embroidered brown silk and four in light green silk and sold for $5,640, while the other with seven brown embroidered silk and five light green silk pillows took $4,800. They sold online and were shipped to a buyer in Hawaii. A pair of overstuffed armchairs and ottomans in crushed green velvet brought $2,400.
Another sofa by the English firm George Smith in a green check upholstery, along with six complementary pillows, estimated at $3/4,000, sold for $7,800.
Oprah’s Eighteenth Century Swedish tall clock with gilt mounts attracted interest and exceeded its $2/4,000 estimate when it realized $10,200. Then, there was the teapot. A McCoy teapot decorated with ivy sold for $1,200 against the estimated $50–$100.
Oprah’s Jetson electric bikes were among her favorite things and she bought one in each color. Each was autographed. A purple example sold for $6,300, while a magenta Jetson brought $4,800; an orange one and a yellow example were each $3,000, and a light green example sold for $3,640.
Oprah’s black leather Bottega Veneta steamer trunk, also estimated at $1/2,000, elicited $10,200.
A stylish 28-inch pair of silver candelabra with classical scenes and winged phoenixes was signed and had two marks and went for $9,600. A Nineteenth Century French pair of candelabra with doré bronze mounts and burgundy marble columns and bases went for $3,600.
Bidders really liked the French elaborately carved and painted wood planter estimated at $300/600 that they pushed to $3,000. They also liked the glass bowl with enamel and semiprecious jewels by the Turkish maker Pasabahce that they drove to $4,250 against the estimated $300/500. It was marked Pasabahce 2000.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For more information, www.kaminskiauctions.com or 978-927-2223.