Bernstein Memorabilia Going for Big Bucks in NY Auction Dec. 10-11

News   Bernstein Memorabilia Going for Big Bucks in NY Auction Dec. 10-11
 
On the first day of bidding for Leonard Bernstein memorabilia at Sotheby's auction house in New York, collectors snapped up everything from paperweights to cigarette boxes that once belonged to the late composer of West Side Story, On the Town and Candide.

On the first day of bidding for Leonard Bernstein memorabilia at Sotheby's auction house in New York, collectors snapped up everything from paperweights to cigarette boxes that once belonged to the late composer of West Side Story, On the Town and Candide.

The auction began Dec. 10 and is scheduled to conclude Dec. 11.

Like many recent celebrity auctions, including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' -- which is parodied in the current Broadway show Jackie -- many minor personal items are going for major-league prices.

The New York Times reported that Bernstein's extra-large Bosendorfer piano went for $350,000, a baton for $11,000, his 700-record collection for $7,500, a framed silver recording of West Side Story for $3,820, an Al Hirschfeld etching for $3,250 and even a piano bench for $1000.

Bernstein was a voracious reader and the auction includes his working library -- approximately 1000 books on music, literature, religion, and philosophy (est. $5000-$7000 for the entire library). Although Bernstein's own musical manuscripts and papers reside in the Library of Congress, the sale includes several manuscripts of other composers from Bernstein's personal collection, including an autographed musical fragment from "Appalachian Spring" by his friend and colleague Aaron Copland (est. $1500-$2000).

In addition, there is a 1968 David Levine pen and ink drawing of Bernstein and Adolph Green at the piano (est. $1500-$2000).

Bernstein was known for his dramatic taste in clothing, and the sale offers several signature pieces from his wardrobe, including three evening capes (est. $300-$500 each), one of which belonged to his mentor, conductor Serge Koussevitsky.

The auction also contains several items related to his lifelong chain- smoking habit, including an alligator cigarette case that he carried for decades (est. $60-$80) and an automatic electronic cigarette lighting machine, a gift from Deutsche Grammophon in 1990 (est. $500-$700). There is also a silver beaker that Bernstein would take to post-concert greenroom sessions -- where he would drink whiskey as he greeted his fans and signed autographs.

The collection -- drawn from Bernstein's New York apartment in the Dakota and his composing studio in Connecticut --is being consigned by the Springate Corp. and Bernstein's three children. A portion of the proceeds from the sale, which is estimated at approximately $500,000, will benefit The Bernstein Education Through the Arts (BETA) Fund, Inc.

Bernstein, who at 25 made his legendary conducting debut at a 1943 New York Philharmonic concert at Carnegie Hall -- filling in at the last minute for an ailing Bruno Walter -- is the composer of several landmark Broadway musicals, including On the Town, Wonderful Town, Candide, and West Side Story. He died in 1990.

-- By Robert Viagas and Rebecca Paller

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