Celebrity memorabilia sales are headline-grabbers this year. Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe sent prices soaring for their personal possessions and career mementos. But the Barbra Streisand sale at Christie's in New York this month reveals the singer as a serious collector and aficionado of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, including the classic furniture designs of Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright, and of Art Nouveau and the gorgeous glasswork of Louis Comfort Tiffany.
Barbra Streisand began collecting American Arts and Crafts objects in 1987, building on her Art Nouveau collection and filling her home in Holmby Hills with pieces from the Midwest and California, the Rockies and New England. Now Hollywood's "Funny Girl", settling into a new home with actor husband James Brolin, put up for sale this world-class collection of classic design pieces from the early 20th century. Collectors and museums from around the world bid record prices, and the sale brought a total of $4,815,355.
Gustav Stickley, Oak and Wrought Iron Sideboard, circa 1902
|The sale was not without controversy. The Craftsman Farms Foundation, a major Arts and Crafts Movement museum, had been seeking two cabinets to complete the dining room for which they were built, in what was Stickley's home at Craftsman Farms between 1910 and 1917. They claimed that their repeated requests had fallen on the diva's deaf ears. The Streisand agents said the requests were not heard until the entire collection had been committed to auction. But the tussle ended well. Foundation director Tommy McPherson successfully bid $65,000 and $60,000 for the cabinets as other bidders claimed they held back offers to make sure the cabinets went home to the farm. |
Henry Green, Leaded Glass Lantern,
|There was no holding back on the rest of the collection, as the Art Nouveau intricacies of Tiffany lamps, earthenware vases in delicate colors, glazed landscape plaques as delicate as any watercolor, and decorative statuettes brought escalating offers. A "dragonfly" Tiffany lamp of leaded glass, mosaic and bronze brought $305,000. |
The Frank Lloyd Wright items included signature high-backed chairs, architectural drawings, leaded glass doors, and an oak three-tier "Flower Table" that sold for $255,000.
|Gustav Stickley, Oak Daybed, circa 1901|
Gustav Stickley, Oak Corner China Cabinet,
Frank Lloyd Wright and George Mann Niedecken,
Oak Three-Tier "Flower Table,"
George Prentiss Kendrick
and Grueby Pottery,
Artus Van Briggle,
Oak Tall Back