The Lauren Bacall Collection
March 9, 2015 9:36 PM   Subscribe

When the late Lauren Bacall's long time apartment at the Dakota was listed for $26 million in November, the photos accompanying the listing were drab, showing the apartment after it had been stripped of nearly all of the actress's possessions - new photos from the upcoming Bonham's auction show how the three bedroom apartment looked during the 50-odd years Bacall lived there.
posted by The Whelk (32 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
I could do without the random crockery, but I'd kill for that reading nook.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 9:45 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


As the person who reluctantly, and only very occasionally, dusts around here, all I could think of was: dusting, of god the dusting.
posted by maxwelton at 10:01 PM on March 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


Would it be weird to buy someone's house and just leave everything where it is?
posted by doctor_negative at 10:01 PM on March 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


For a while there, Yoko was buying every apartment that went up for sale in the Dakota (so I heard) -- is she no longer doing that? (Perhaps she stopped after John's death?)
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:07 PM on March 9, 2015


how did yoko ever get past the dakota board, how does someone like roberta flack afford her place in the dakota, this seems small and slightly dishabile...i'm kind of suprised, oh jesus that wallpaper.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:56 PM on March 9, 2015


It is surprising to see pink and ruffles in Miss Bacall's apartment. Her early roles were pretty much slinky sexpot - one would expect satin and animal hide decor.
posted by Cranberry at 11:44 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


so much art and interesting things. it feels like a place that was loved
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:04 AM on March 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


I looked at the catalogue (large pdf linked in the story). All of that crockery is fancy Victorian majolica. The bedding is all early-20th-century quilts. There's about a zillion pieces of fine antique furniture and I don't even know how many rare signed lithographs and sculptures. The net effect of the tiny pictures is that her place seems cluttered and overcrowded, but when you look at the items themselves, the impression is of a person who liked to encourage all sorts of artists by immersing herself in their work, and who had pretty great taste.
posted by gingerest at 1:18 AM on March 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


We are so accustomed to seeing immaculate, tasteful, impersonal, interior-decorated homes in the likes of Architectural Digest that it's jarring to see one so resolutely unfashionable.

Also, 9 rooms overlooking Central Park. Bought in 1961 for $48,000, appraised for $9 million, list price $26 million.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:36 AM on March 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


I LOVE IT!!!
posted by double bubble at 2:33 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


As gingerest mentions, the catalogue is very interesting to browse through: lots of Henry Moore prints and a few of his sculptures; many sculptures by Robert Graham; prints by Jim Dine, Miró, Hockney, Chagall, Alexander Calder, Max Ernst… some Picasso ceramics, an oil painting by Noël Coward, &c, &c.
posted by misteraitch at 2:35 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm just going to look at Lauren Bacall's eyes... and go off into a corner... and melt for a bit...
posted by Cyrano at 4:40 AM on March 10, 2015


It probably helped that the apartment had Lauren Bacall in it back then too.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:55 AM on March 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


I neeeeeeeeeeeeed that pink chaise. I've wanted a chaise lounge my whole damn life and I still don't have a home with space for one. The next one will have it GUARANTEED.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:55 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, 9 rooms overlooking Central Park. Bought in 1961 for $48,000, appraised for $9 million, list price $26 million.

To be fair, that $48,000 in 1961 is approximately $375,000 after adjusting for inflation. Certainly it has appreciated a great deal, but a) by one order of magnitude less than the non-adjusted number would suggest and b) it wasn't exactly cheap in 1961, either.
posted by jedicus at 6:04 AM on March 10, 2015


Yeah, no, $375,000 to $9 million (or $26 million) is pretty hefty appreciation. I doubt you can buy any apartment in Manhattan for $375,000, let alone a three bedroom overlooking Central Park.

To put it in perspective, right now the average home price in the US is a little under $200,000. So in 2015 dollars, that ultra-swanky New York apartment, owned by a movie star, cost about twice what the average American is paying for a home today.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:12 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love that apartment! The yellow wall paper and blue rug - the lady had an eye for color!

And if you watch the video from the auction house, she has a print by Ted Kennedy! It is actually quite a lovely painting of daffodils.

And clicking the link to the Gothamist's story of the listing, gives us this fantastic video of Glenn Close visiting Ms. Bacall and her dog Sophie, and Sophie's friend Humperdink. That was the best! She still has that voice.
posted by jillithd at 6:45 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


That lady had an eye for art, full stop. It is a home with character, depth and colour. Pretty much like the lady herself. May we all aspire to have homes like that.
posted by kariebookish at 7:08 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's so interesting - a lot of it looks like much fancier and more expensive versions of photos from late sixties/early seventies decorating books in terms of color and the older wooden furniture. I don't know enough about furniture to really say what is in this apartment, but the decorating books all have what seems like an odd mixture (to contemporary eyes) of early American, provencal and early Spanish/California, either reproduction or actual antiques, plus some vaguely Ming touches...and then, I'm so used to the idea that if you do have furniture of that type, you should have it in a pale, simple room where it really stands out, but the decorating books all have bright walls and lots of tchotchkes.

I mean, I love her apartment. The yellow bedroom is IMO a bit kitschy and I really don't like corner pieces like that, but everything else is totally great - I love all the majolica and it has always been my (probably never to be realized) ambition to have a really grand room with lots of small-but-good and obviously personal framed photos and art (I don't really have enough art at the moment, never mind the room; one doesn't want to have generic stuff and have a room like a Pottery Barn catalogue).

I'm sure she could afford someone to do the dusting. Although as a chronic collector of ceramics and various oddments, I have to say that at least part of the pleasure of having them is dusting them and rearranging them.

Now, my sainted great aunt had a beautiful apartment of the more minimalist/slinky type (not that slinky; no one is slinky in my family). It was just a tiny, tiny studio that she bought during the early eighties recession, but it was in downtown Chicago in a wonderful mid-century high-rise (with a geodesic dome and a concierge and a proper mid-century public sculpture bronze in the lobby and a shop in the basement with a very recherche selection of wine). I surmise that it was intended as a businessman's pied-a-terre, since it was much the smallest apartment that I've ever seen (outside those furnished bedsits that they have in the UK that are about the size of a generous parking space, of course).

But it was all white walls and built in bookshelves and her sixties teak furniture and her paintings plus paintings and sculpture by friends (she was a painter - there's one watercolor of hers in the Art Institute of Chicago's regional artist collection although more for archive purposes than display and I don't expect that they ever really put it out - although she kept food on the table via advertising). It really set my expectations for how an adult space was supposed to look. Ah, I miss her and visiting her in that apartment. When she died I pretty much went through and took everything that I could fit in a rented van (since my family didn't want most of it) because I couldn't bear it all to go.
posted by Frowner at 7:09 AM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


We are so accustomed to seeing immaculate, tasteful, impersonal, interior-decorated homes in the likes of Architectural Digest that it's jarring to see one so resolutely unfashionable.


It's also, and I mean this with great respect, AMAZINGLY WASPY, like its a joke that all pianos are basically photo storage -- it's rare to actually see such a flash frozen example of upper crust but lived in WASPy decor. Normally when you see an apartment like this it's in some lightless sarcophagus on Park ave where the gallery-style paintings and kickknackery makes everything claustrophobic and encrusted.
posted by The Whelk at 7:19 AM on March 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


To be fair, in 1961 the west side wasn't only unfashionable, it was pretty dumpy. Lincoln Center wasn't built yet, and most of the Upper West Side really didn't start being a swanky location until the 80's. And don't even get me started on 190 Bowery ($102,000 in 1966 - it hurts!)
posted by Mchelly at 7:28 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Of course all pianos are basically photo storage. Or at least, you have the grand for the photos and an upright elsewhere for daily use. And the photos should all be in sterling frames, but simple, not the fussy plate ones you see sometimes now.

Back before the Depression, one side of my family was proper rich - not rich like the one percent now of course - my great-grandfather worked and had to work - but rich enough that the daughters (among them my great aunt) made some kind of debut and took a long trip to Europe. (I have one of the two sets of tiny mother of pearl opera glasses that the sisters purchased in France.) So we still have a few old, old photos in silver frames (or rather, my parents do) and the odd monogrammed bit of sterling and so on.

And then my grandfather - the poor but handsome boy who married my grandmother when it turned out that the family no longer had the capital to attract a wealthy husband - had a great variety of connections because he was a buyer for a large department store. And as a result, we have a good number of proper, genteelly faded "oriental" rugs that he got at a discount from various friends. If I had a tiny, tiny apartment like my great aunt's, I might be able to manage something really WASPy myself if I rounded up all the old family things (and also got rid of a good deal of stuff).
posted by Frowner at 7:30 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


To be fair, in 1961 the west side wasn't only unfashionable, it was pretty dumpy. Lincoln Center wasn't built yet, and most of the Upper West Side really didn't start being a swanky location until the 80's.

There's this now fairly hilarious moment in A Chrous Line where a character, confessing his tragic backstory and queermo past, says he started to up to "72nd street" and the audience is supposed to gasp cause thats shorthand for drag bars and drugs and gay bathhouses but now it just means you need a good dentist or organic yoga spot.
posted by The Whelk at 7:35 AM on March 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also I can literally see the Dakota from my living room window and I've got a box of paintings in my closet and now I think I should put them up.
posted by The Whelk at 7:42 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Exactly - I pass the Ansonia almost every day, and it's so gorgeous, and the apartments I've seen there are unheard-of amazing, but I can never let myself forget that it was also the site of the famous/infamous Continental Baths (featuring Bette Midler and Barry Manilow FTW)
posted by Mchelly at 7:45 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


(I do miss the old gay bars that where the long lost relics of that period, like just old opera queens smoking a shit ton of hash cause thier doctors told them to quit drinking. Very fun vibe.)
posted by The Whelk at 7:49 AM on March 10, 2015


Of course all pianos are basically photo storage. Or at least, you have the grand for the photos and an upright elsewhere for daily use.
posted by a manly man person who is male and masculine at 8:26 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Any talk of the Dakota reminds me of this clip from Jeffrey. (NSFW)
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:24 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


how does someone like roberta flack afford her place in the dakota,

Why would she not be able to afford it? She had serious hits back in the early seventies (when presumably she moved in), and tours to this day.

For the interested in the Dakota building, Stephen Birmingham's book is a lot of fun
posted by BWA at 10:06 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd get the heebee-jeebees living there, but it looks like a place that was a home, lived-in and cherished
posted by BlueHorse at 10:59 AM on March 10, 2015


So. much. art. I love it.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:01 PM on March 10, 2015


Would you just walk around with things in your hands all the time? There's no unoccupied flat surface to put anything down.

Ok, I exaggerate, there is. It would still drive me crazy.
posted by ctmf at 8:05 PM on March 10, 2015


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