Jewelry Owned by André Leon Talley Up for Auction
It is part of Christie’s upcoming sale of the late fashion journalist’s estate.
Talley, who died last year at 73 due to complications from a heart attack and COVID-19, was a fashion journalist who worked his way up to become the first and only Black creative director at Vogue magazine.
Born in the South in 1948, during the Jim Crow era, and raised by his grandmother, Bennie Francis Davis, Talley studied French at North Carolina Central University and went on to earn a master’s in French literature from Brown University.
After Brown, he moved to New York and started his career working for legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland at The Met’s Costume Institute before going on to report for Interview magazine, Women’s Wear Daily, The New York Times and Vogue, where he served as creative director and, later, editor-at-large.
Beginning next month, Christie’s will auction items from Talley’s estate, including a number of his signature caftans from Tom Ford, Gucci and Ralph Rucci, lots of Louis Vuitton luggage, and artwork from personal friends like Andy Warhol and Karl Lagerfeld.
Talley’s possessions are being sold on behalf of his estate to benefit his childhood church, Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist in Durham, North Carolina, and the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, one of the oldest Black Baptist churches in the country.
Given that proceeds from the auctions are being donated to two churches—which were “central institutions” in Talley’s life, Christie’s said—it is fitting two crosses are among the standout jewelry lots.
The jewel with the highest pre-sale estimate is an unsigned Chanel amethyst geode cross pendant with a gilt metal setting and chain. Christie’s estimates it will sell for between $6,000 and $8,000.
Another cross pendant set with four pear-shaped aquamarines with an estimated carat weight of 25.5-27.5 carats, 1-1.25 carats of round diamonds, and rectangular and baguette-cut sapphires has a pre-sale estimate of $3,000 to $5,000.
Other highlights include a pair of costume jewelry cuffs from Chanel (pictured above) and a “The World Is Yours” watch from Jacob & Co. that’s set with colored diamonds (estimate $5,000-$7,000).
Though none of the jewelry included in the auction has a particularly high pre-sale estimate, hammer prices for collections belonging to public figures, like Talley, usually greatly exceed expectations, as the emotion involved in such sales is hard to quantify.
(See: the record-setting sale of Elizabeth Taylor’s incredible jewelry collection, the staggering sum one buyer paid to own Paul Newman’s personal Rolex Daytona or, more recently, the price paid for a simple sapphire pendant that belonged to Betty White.)
Christie’s will offer “The Collection of Andre Leon Talley” at three sales: a live auction at Christie’s New York on Feb. 15 and two online sales ending on Feb. 16 and 17.
Online bidding starts Jan. 27.
Alexis Thomas, executor of his estate, said: “I am thrilled to partner with Christie’s in the sale of the collection of my dear friend André Leon Talley. André was an intellectual and held a lifelong dedication to social justice and a pioneering vision for Black creators and luminaries.
“André saw his collection of beautiful objects, laden with fashion history, as his legacy, and it’s an honor to ensure that its sale will benefit the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem and Mount Sinai Church in Durham. As we embark on a global tour with the collection, we hope to bring the magic of André Leon Talley into the lives of those who have long admired him.”
A selection of highlights from the sales will go on tour starting this month in Palm Beach, Florida (Jan. 18-31), before traveling to Paris from Jan. 23-26.
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