08 September 2011
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr - A Life
Photos for The Trad by Alice Olive
It's an odd thing...digging through a dead man's belongings. Low estimates on Lobb, Huntsman and Lock had me salivating like a hyena until I was struck by a thunder bolt of guilt. A conscious revelation of picking over the wool, leather and felt of a man I only knew through books and film -- It suddenly seemed wrong.
Standing at Fairbank's desk, I looked down on the snap shots, post cards and newspaper cartoons he felt fit to place under glass. I picked up his Dunhill brief case, placed it on the desk and opened the leather flap looking for something...maybe loose change. I don't really know.
The Rolodex was magical. Not because of the famous names, but because of the local grocers, a car rental car company behind Kate Hepburn and the florist who delivered long stems roses in NYC for $50 with two hours notice. Still, it was refreshing to see Princess Grace's signature in a guest book -- Her letters fat, cursive and squat -- just like a 16 year old high school girl.
Then it hits you. A life represented by lots in a room-- together -- like a museum exhibit. Perhaps more so -- just not for very long. Soon it all disappears among the bidders -- never to be seen in one place again. That's the magic. Whether you bid or not, stop by to see a life, and make of it what you will. I discovered a man whose sartorial interests paled compared to his storied life. And that discovery didn't cost a thing.
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr Auction, September 13, 2011, Doyle New York, 175 East 87th, NYC (212) 427 2730 On line catalog here.