A standing-room-only crowd and fans online bid more than $900,000 in the Estate of Zsa Zsa Gabor Auction for thousands of items from the Hollywood socialite’s private personal collection. Offered on April 14, 2018 by Heritage Auctions, the sale result more than tripled pre-auction expectations and followed a two-day preview at Gabor’s Bel Air mansion in Los Angeles.
Spanning the star’s 60-year career and red carpet appearances, the estate included keepsakes, designer couture, screen-used costumes and Hollywood memorabilia. Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt, Gabor’s last husband and widower, said his late wife requested an auction to offer her private property to fans around the world; the star maintained a strong fan base around the world.
A portrait of the star – an important memento by friend Margaret Keane – took top lot honors at $45,000 and set a world auction record for the artist. Keane gained notoriety for her paintings of “big-eyed waifs,” which became the subject the 2014 film Big Eyes.
Noted for her luxurious, opulent lifestyle, Gabor’s five-piece group of vintage Louis Vuitton luggage brought $27,500. Strong bidding spurred a 1927 Steinway Model M Grand Piano, from her marriage with actor George Sanders and used in the 2013 film Behind the Candelabra, to sell for $23,750.
Among the lots that best represented the star’s celebrity persona was a diamond and 14-karat gold necklace, immortalizing her iconic “Dah-ling” catchphrase, which sold for $20,000. Gabor‘s assortment of paparazzi-blinding costume jewelry included a 1960s rhinestone and faux emerald necklace, which sold for $15,625.
Never before available to the public, personal mementos included an archive of 13 albums filled with never-before-seen candid and professional photographs of Gabor with stars Ann Miller, Nancy Reagan, Cloris Leachman, Lana Turner, Bob Hope, Milton Berle and Tony Curtis, which brought $9,375.
Gabor’s keepsakes also included tabloid fodder such as a set of 13 drawings Gabor personally sketched during her 1989 trial for slapping a Beverly Hills police officer. Dubbed by tabloids as the “slap heard ‘round the world,” the sketchbook sold for $2,125.
More Hollywood memorabilia included a set of two address books, with contact information of Johnny Carson, Sean Connery, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Joan Rivers and more, sold for $1,062 and a luxury leather saddle, given to Gabor by fellow riding enthusiast President Ronald Reagan, sold for $4,250.
Additional highlights included a circa 1960 oil on canvas portrait by Peter Sheil sold for $12,500; several lots of costumes, gowns and dresses from various television appearances saw a combined sale of $11,100; a Louis XV-Style Creme Piente day bed brought $8,750; another portrait featuring her only daughter, Francesca, realized $7,500; 30 years’ worth of television and film scripts, ended at $6,000; the star’s circa 1961 American passport, sold for $4,250; and Gabor’s circa 1989 California driver's license, reached $3,875.