André Leon Talley’s Personal Belongings to Be Auctioned This Fall – WWD

Clothing, art and furniture that belonged to the late fashion journalist André Leon Talley will once again be going up for auction.

Following last year’s robust sale at Christie’s that rang up more than $3.55 million, Stair Galleries is preparing for a fall sale. The in-person auction is slated for Sept. 21 in Hudson, New York, and the plan is to debut the sale’s catalogue and exhibition on Sept. 8. Still in the process of cataloguing, the expectation is to have 300 lots.

The pioneering former Vogue editor died last year at the age of 73.

The auction house’s director of decorative arts Muffie Cunningham mined through Talley’s former homes in White Plains, New York, and in his hometown of Durham, North Carolina. Although the former longtime Sotheby’s executive only met Talley once at an auction, she described both houses as “happy homes” that were decorated in bright colors and adorned with busts on pedestals and other interesting things. In Durham, a parlor was awash in Diana Vreeland red, the living room was yellow and upstairs bedrooms were more muted in pastel grays and beiges. They were very much a reflection of who he was — lots of books.

Arriving at Talley’s New York home post-Christie’s perusal, Cunningham said, “It certainly was a slimmed-down version of what it was so we didn’t get the full force of what his decorating style was all about.”

In the midst of reading Talley’s memoir, she said, “I am just so impressed that someone, who was raised in the Jim Crow South by his grandmother and went to church every Sunday was able to navigate the muddy waters of the New York fashion industry without really changing who he was. So many people come to New York and reinvent their stories or their back stories. He seems to me one of the few people, who didn’t and embraced it.”


Dozens of pairs of sunglasses will be auctioned.

Photo Courtesy Stair Galleries

Some of the anticipated standout items are personal belongings such as a custom Chado Ralph Rucci black kimono that was made for Talley for a Met Gala. There are also “an absolutely wild Todd Oldham patchwork robe,” two Fendi furs and custom Manolo Blahnik crocodile shoes in multiple colors and a Christian Dior saddle bag in leather and fur, Cunningham said.

Clothing was among the highlights at last year’s Christie’s auction for the collection of Talley. There, a Norma Kamali red puffer jacket — similar to the Alaïa one worn by Rihanna during her Super Bowl performance — sold for $25,200, well above its low presale estimate of $500.


A Todd Oldham roobe and other fashion will be offered.

Photo Courtesy Stiar Galleries

Stair Galleries has more modest expectations, with early estimates of their upcoming sale expected to generate more than $500,000. Nearly all of the proceeds will benefit the churches where Talley worshipped: the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem and the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, according to Colin Stair, president and lead auctioneer at Stair Auctions.

While there will be some art featured in the sale, there is very little that will be sold. Books will be in abundance, though, and sunglasses will also be up for grabs, both no-name shades and designer ones. The page-turners include multiple titles about Diana Vreeland, whom Talley worked for at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute when he was still a relative newcomer to New York. There is also a series of vintage books that were written by Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon. His memoirs offered a lively account of the court at Versailles of Louis XIV. Talley, who earned a scholarship and a M.A. from Brown University in French Studies, had bought the 1902 published books from Ursus Books & Gallery on Madison Avenue. In addition to such lofty material, there are more pedestrian coffee table tomes that will be auctioned.

The Durham four-bedroom property that Talley had purchased for his grandmother will soon be going on the market, Cunningham said. “It’s expected to sell very quickly because it’s in a charming neighborhood. The house has beautiful magnolia trees in the front and the backyards. It’s been nicely kept and is just a very pretty house.” (As an homage to his caregiving grandmother, who worked five days a week cleaning dorm rooms at Duke University, Talley kept the interior of her bedroom intact.)


Select furniture from Talley’s homes in White Plains, New York, and Durham, North Carolina, will be sold.

Photo Courtesy Stair Galleries

Talley’s former 11-room, 3,600-square-foot Colonial home in White Plains’ Greenburgh neighborhood was listed last month for $1.2 million. The one acre-plus property, which was a matter of contention for Talley prior to his death, had been purchased by his longtime friend Diane von Furstenberg and kept under a LLC. A spokesperson for the Greenburgh registrar of deeds said the house at 75 Worthington Road was still on the market Tuesday. The property’s listed realtor did not return requests for comment Tuesday.

Some of Talley’s furniture will go under the gavel at Stair, including a chintz-upholstered bench, pairs of chairs, commodes, chaise lounges, garden furniture, lots of gilded materials of different vintages, stemware and chicken-shaped pottery. Bidders will also find books about Black and African American culture, as well as decorative garden books — two other areas that greatly interested Talley. Part of his posthumous appeal is due partially that he “really stepped up to the plate and enjoyed what he did. While he certainly lived a very interesting and cultivated life, he didn’t let luxury get to him,” Cunningham said.

However, while Talley had a trove of luxury items, beautiful clothes and some interesting antiques, Cunningham said “not everything was of the finest quality. Luxury to him wasn’t always a Fendi bag or Manolo shoes. Luxury to him was a beautiful flower and a lovely sunset. His perspective was vast and wide. Yes, custom Manolos were the height of luxury, but he could still appreciate the simple pleasures.”

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