Following a spectacular celebrity turnout for the sale preview on April 2, Sotheby’s in London held an auction April 5 comprising the contents of the late actor John Gielgud’s country home at Wotton Underwood in Buckinghamshire. A Sotheby’s source told Playbill On-Line that the auction was a “great success.”
Richard Attenborough, Peter Bowles, Donald Sinden, Simon Callow, Griff Rhys Jones, Dame Judi Dench and other luminaries were reportedly on hand for the April 2 preview. Gielgud left no heirs--the closest was his niece, the choreographer and dancer Maina Gielgud--so the proceeds from the sale will benefit theatrical (and other) charities, according to the actor's will.
A late call to Sotheby’s London was not returned by press time, but it was reported that the Gielgud auction could fetch up to £1.7 million. The April 5 auction included lots ranging from £50 to £50,000. Antiques, fine art and decades of British theatre memorabilia were up for sale.
In the near future, Sotheby’s will be conducting another auction, comprising the property of Sir Ralph Richardson. Together, Richardson, Gielgud and Sir Laurence Olivier dominated the world of the theatrical stage in the last century. As with Gielgud, the proceeds from the Richardson sale will benefit theatrical charities.
—By Murdoch McBride