New York - Legendary restauranteur Elaine Kaufman's estate goes under the hammer this week.
Manhattan-based members of the ArtKabinett community fondly remember this icon of the Upper East Side, and the collection of her restaurant.
She was an avid art collector as well as a purveyor of style. The auctioneers Doyle, New York have been consigned the personal collection which takes place tomorrow, September 20, 2011 at 10 a.m.
This historic auction comprises almost 250 lots of artwork, books, memorabilia, furniture, decorations, fashion and accessories that Elaine collected or was given during her lifetime.
These personal treasures were displayed at her restaurant, Elaine’s, or her elegant Upper East Side penthouse. The public is invited to the exhibition on view from Saturday, September 17 through Monday, September 19 at Doyle New York, located at 175 East 87th Street. Kaufman died last December and the restaurant closed last May.
“I am pleased to be working with Doyle New York on this auction,” said Diane Becker, Elaine’s longtime restaurant manager who inherited her estate. “Elaine lived a long, happy and prosperous life. She lined the walls of her restaurant and home with artwork, books, photographs and memorabilia, some of which was given to her by the wonderful people she met night after night at her restaurant. I feel that this is the best – and frankly only – way I know to share Elaine with those she cared about most – her Elaine’s family.”
Highlights from the collection featured at Elaine’s restaurant include the iconic vintage cash register that occupied a place of honor behind the bar (est. $400-600), the papier maché carousel horse that hung for many years in the window (est. $200-300), two pairs of the signature oversized hanging lights (est. $200-300), and Table Number One with four chairs where patrons sat to see and be seen (est. $400-600).
Also offered will be the numerous framed photographs, posters and artwork that adorned the restaurant’s walls, including signed pieces by Jamie Wyeth, Bert Stern and Tony Bennett. Fans will also find copper chefs’ pots (est. $200-300), a professional butcher-block table (est. $200-300), flatware, barware, napkins and other memorabilia from the seminal restaurant.
Elaine Kaufman’s Upper East Side penthouse was her personal sanctuary. She filled it with her extensive collection of fine art and her beloved books, many of which were gifts from the authors – friends and patrons of Elaine’s restaurant.
Highlighting her art collection are a photographic collage by West Coast artist Wallace Berman (est. $30,000-50,000); a 1945 watercolor of Coney Island by Reginald Marsh (est. $10,000-15,000); and a resin sculpture incorporating an actual violin by American/French artist Arman (est. $15,000-20,000).
Among the many other prominent artists whose work will be offered are George Segal, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Dash, Dennis Ashbaugh, Ronaldo de Juan, and Avigdor Arikha.
Fine prints in the sale feature two works by Andy Warhol – a 1956 signed lithograph of a shoe and leg (est. $10,000-15,000) and a 1970 signed screenprint of flowers (est. $10,000-15,000 each), in addition to David Hockey’s 1972 etching and aquatintof a panama hat (est. $5,000-7,000) and works by Kenneth Noland, Helen Frankenthaler, Franz Laskoff, Alberto Giacometti, and Francisco de Goya.
Elaine Kaufman’s collection of French Art Nouveau posters is highlighted by Alphonse Mucha’s 1986 Salon des Cent (est. $8,000-12,000) and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1895 Mademoiselle Marcelle Lender, en Buste (est. $7,000-10,000), as well as examples by Jules Cheret and Theophile Steinlen.
Her extensive library features a first edition of photographer Helmut Newton’s oversized folio, Sumo, (est. $3,000-5,000) together with a book stand by Phillipe Stark (est. $3,000-5,000). Also offered are inscribed books by Richard Avedon, Andy Warhol, and Christo, including his two-volume book on the celebrated Central Park Gates project, as well as numerous books inscribed by such friends and celebrities as Katherine Hepburn, Kirk Douglas, and Truman Capote.
Rounding out the sale are Elaine Kaufman’s eclectic collection of furniture, including two cow horn armchairs (est. $500-700 each); examples of tribal, Asian and religious artwork; and exquisite glassware by Waterford and Bacarrat. From her wardrobe are colorful silk scarves, costume jewelry by Kenneth Jay Lane, and her set of soft side Louis Vuitton luggage (est. $1,000-1,500).
Kaufman was born in Manhattan on February 10, 1929, and raised in Queens and later the Bronx. After a variety of jobs, including night cosmetician, she started in the restaurant business in 1959, joining Alfredo Viazzi her boyfriend in running his recently-opened Greenwich Village restaurant Portofino. Portofino was frequented by people in the downtown publishing business and Off-Broadway theater.
Four years later, after she and Viazzi split up, she bought a restaurant in the Upper East Side and Elaine's was born. Despite the location not popular at the time many customers from Portofino followed her to the new spot.
Over the years, Kaufman bought the entire building that housed the restaurant, as well as the building next door. The rental income subsidized the restaurant in lean years. Kaufman was designated a living landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy in 2003.
In addition to her career as a restaurateur, Kaufman had a small uncredited acting role in the 1970 film The Boys in the Band, as a pedestrian glancing disapprovingly at flamboyant Emory (Cliff Gorman) on a Manhattan street corner. She also had a brief appearance in the 2010 film Morning Glory as herself at her restaurant. Kaufman passed away from emphysema and hypertension on December 3, 2010 at Lenox Hill Hospital, aged 81.