An appetiser in Bonhams
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An appetiser in Bonhams

Published on 14.05.2015

When I heard the news that the Lauren Bacall Collection had arrived in London and that Harper’s Bazaar had organised an event in Bonhams auction house, I couldn’t resist joining the audience that afternoon. 

laura bacall my new blazer
( Photograph by @Oropendolae) 

I can’t deny that I was quite curious to find out what kind of collection Lauren Bacall, an icon of elegance and the film industry, could have collected. Works of this nature always open a new window onto the personality of their owners, their tastes, a different way of seeing a film star through the choices they made at different stages of their lives.

The actress lived in Manhattan, in a spacious apartment in the famous Dakota Building (where Yoko Ono lives) with views of Central Park. Bacall left us in August 2014 but she had previously displayed interest in auctioning her collection at Bonhams. Sasha Slater, chief editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Jon King, vice-president of Bonhams in New York and one of the actress’s personal friends, had invited us that afternoon to know more details and anecdotes behind some of her works.

mesa bacall my new blazer

(Photograph by @Oropendolae)

The collection is made up of a total of 740 objects which don’t appear to be connected with each other, though, as Jon says, once you get used to it you can see that the connection exists. It is a very personal collection, with a story behind each item, composed of works the actress started to collect in 1950, and which includes drawings and small sculptures in bronze, by the magnificent Henry Moore, or dreamlike jewellery, including a French gold and emerald necklace. Among the items of interest there is a lithograph of a work produced by the actor, Henry Fonda, which shows the three hats he wore whilst he was filming ‘On Golden Pond’; apparently one of them was given to him by Katherine Hebpurn and it appears it had been Spencer Tracy’s lucky hat. When the filming finished, the actor gave about 200 lithographs to the team and friends. The collection also includes works by Robert Graham, David Hockney and even the senator, Edward Kennedy.

During the event, Jon also told us that when the actress was selecting the items for her collection, she let herself be led by the ‘character and honesty’ a piece of work could transmit to her.


sombreros bacall my new blazer

(“Norman Thayer, Jr”. Lithograph of the actor, Henry Fonda.1980. Photo by @Oropendolae)

Our selection of life’s objects, those we carry around with us or keep at home, and which are often chosen without being aware of what we are doing and with no apparent criteria, inevitably bear the print of our personality; the fact they have been chosen by us provide the objects with the connection many people look for, often finding it with difficulty. That misty afternoon, Lauren Bacall’s soul was present in each one of us, I can assure you.




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