Hello to All That: Joan Didion’s Desk, Typewriter and Books Are All Headed to Auction Next Month

Fans of the late writer Joan Didion will soon get a chance to purchase some of her most prized possessions.

Stair Galleries, an auction house located in Hudson, New York, will auction off furniture and items belonging to the writer, whose incisive work has had an impact on readers since the 1960s. Hundreds of lots are set to go up for grabs as part of the estate sale, including artwork, books and other items that occupied Didion’s apartment at the end of her life.

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Among the highlights of the sale are pieces from Didion and her late husband John Gregory Dunne’s art collection. As one of the chief chroniclers of American life during the second half of the 20th century, Didion knew and was familiar with some of the most important artists of the era, something abundantly clear from what is on offer. These include a lithograph of Richard Diebenkorn’s Twelve (expected to sell for between $50,000 to $70,000), Jennifer Bartlett’s Tree in Four Parts ($15,000 to $20,000) and a numbered etching of Edward Ruscha’s Library ($3,000 to $4,000). There are also pieces that depict Didion herself, including a painting by Les Johnson (picture up top, $3,000 to $5,000) and a famous photograph of the writer next to her Chevrolet Corvette taken by Julian Wasser for Time magazine in 1968 ($1,500 to $3,000).

Partners Desk, John Breuner (late 19th century)
Partners Desk, John Breuner (late 19th century)

While the art may be the main draw for some, there are lots that will specifically appeal to fans of Didion’s writing, which included dozens of essays, books and screenplays. Her typewriter ($800 to $1,200), several bundles of her favorite books ($800 to $1,200) and unused notebooks with her nameplate inside the front cover ($100 to $200) will all go up for bid. Other items of interest are an oak partners’ desk ($8,000 to $12,000), a pairs of her trademark sunglasses ($400 to $800) and a five-piece tea and coffee set with an accompanying tray ($2,000 to $3,000), just to name a few.

“Everything in the sale helps to paint the picture of how she lived in her private space,” Lisa Thomas, a director at the auction house, told the New York Times last week.

A selection of Joan Didion's favorite books from her private library
A selection of Joan Didion’s favorite books from her personal library

The auction will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 16. Over two hundred lots will hit the block that day, all of which you’ll be able to bid on through the auction house’s website. Proceeds from the estate sale will go to benefit Parkinson’s research and patient care at Columbia University, as well as the Sacramento Historical Society. If you live near Hudson, which is located some 120 miles north of New York City, you can even see some of the items in person. Selected items will be on display at Stair from Monday, Oct. 31, to Tuesday, Nov. 15.

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