In Pictures: See Joan Didion’s Art, Furnishings, and Personal Effects That Embody Her ‘Bicoastal Glamour’ Up for Auction

Less than a year after her passing, Joan Didion’s personal estate was sold. Through November 16, “An American Woman: Treasures from the Collection of Joan Didion” at Stair Galleries, a gallery in Hudson, NY, presents an intimate look at the author and artist. critically acclaimed through 224 lots that reflect Didion’s taste, style, and. thoughts.

These include fine art—one featuring Didion herself, her late husband John Dunne, and her daughter Quintana Roo—along with furniture, furnishings, and books such as Norman Mailer and Joyce Carol Oates. Proceeds will benefit Columbia University’s research into movement disorders (Didion died of complications related to Parkinson’s disease), and Sacramento City College’s scholarship for women in literature, in chosen by Didion’s family.

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The sale was led by the consulting firm of New York Art Market Advisors, which approached Stair Galleries to make an offer on Didion’s property. “We have a strong history of preserving one-owner collections from famous people,” Lisa Thomas, Director of Art at Stair Galleries, told Artnet News. “We are delighted to have been selected.”

“We chose the items for sale to help us tell the story of who Joan Didion was and how she lived in her personal space,” he continued. “Every customer has an opinion in some way.”

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The digital catalog shows that Didion and her family embodied an intellectual, bicoastal glamor that translated into Didion’s writing—and her possessions. Upon seeing his parents’ new Upper East Side apartment in 1988, Quintana Roo said, “I think you’re in California.”

And Didion, who grew up in Sacramento, sure does. Among the pieces is a photo featuring a West Coast Didion, posing on her Stingray Corvette for photographer Julian Wasser shortly after the publication of Bowing to Bethlehem in 1968. The artist’s own collection of paintings favors landscape, nature, and abstraction, with the works of Jennifer Bartlett and Richard Diebenkorn paying attention, as always, to back to California.

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Didion’s work also creates “An American Icon”: her Victorian-style rattan chair, her XL friend’s desk from California, and a stack of unused books—preloaded with potential—give plus a picture of where and how he wrote it.

Preview of the collection below.

Celine Faux Tortoiseshell Sunglasses. Estimate: $400–$800

Les Johnson, Portrait of Joan Didion (1977). Estimate: $3,000–$5,000

Richard Serra, Malcolm X (1981). Estimate: $10,000–$15,000

Jennifer Bartlett, House: Spots, walls (1999). Estimate: $2,000–$4,000

American Oak, Walnut and Bird’s Eye Maple Partner’s Desk, J. Breuner, Sacramento, California. Estimate: $8,000–$12,000

Richard Diebenkorn, twelve (1986). Estimate: $50,000–$70,000

Set of Three Victorian Style Upholstered and Oak Chairs. Estimate: $500–$700

Mary Ellen Mark, John Dunne and Joan Didion – New York City (1996). Estimate: $2,000—$4,000

Transfer the “California” porcelain print holder. Estimate: $200–$300

Annie Leibovitz, Joan and Quintana (1989). Estimate: $3,000–$5,000

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