Thursday, May 22, 2008

Own a Piece of the Queen of Mean: Behind the scenes at the Leona Helmsley Couture Auction

On Sunday, Leona Helmsley's vast couture collection was cast to the winds thanks to the auctioneers at Leslie Hindman. When the final gavel fell, the total take was some $120,000 -- about $40,000 more than presale estimates. And what a collection it was! I was fortunate enough to view it the week before at a Cocktails and Couture preview on May 13. Here are snaps of my favorite pieces. Sure much of it was totally 80s -- and a lot of it sort of looked like it was bought by an old lady, natch -- but it was still breathaking. Helmsley may have been a convicted felon, but she sure had style. Although I registered to bid, I did not end up participating -- tempting as some of the handbags were, especially this lovely green Hermes number.
Have you ever seen so many Hermes boxes in one place? The arrangement was replicated further back in the room, only this time the building blocks were Vuitton bags.
One of three cases filled with purses. One case was filled with exotics, another Chanel and Vuitton, yet another Hermes (can you say Birkin? Buyers did -- the sale prices for these reached as high as $9,600 each). Then there was the wall of zany, Totally 80 Moschino bags (patent leather watermelon slice anyone?).
A display of Helmsley's countless ballgowns, a frothy, sparkly mix of designer labels and custom creations sewn just for her. Seems the Queen of Mean was also the Queen of Seam -- she employed her own in-house dressmaker who created one-of-a-kind ballgowns from an "attic atelier"! Helmsley's clothes garnered some impressive sale prices: A J. Mendel brown fur coat fetched $12,000, her iconic (and so fabulously dated it's seriously unwearable by anyone unrelated to RuPaul) pink and denim Chanel suit -- yes, the one she wore to prison in 1992! -- went to one undoubtedly good-humored bidder for $850, and the rows and rows and rows and rows of Ferragamo shoes in every imaginable color (all size 8.5) brought in a total of $3,000.

Curiously, there were no pet items for sale ... I wonder, will Trouble will be taking a bite out of the proceeds?

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