Auction  October 16, 2019  Rebecca Rego Barry

Odd (Foodie) Lots from the Estate of Anthony Bourdain

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Ralph Steadman, Rats in the Kitchen, 2009. Giclee print, artist's proof. Inscribed to Anthony Bourdain.

Celebrity chef and bestselling author Anthony Bourdain, who died last year at the age of 61, had—we’ll just say it—great taste. His personal belongings are being offered in an online auction running through October 30, and they are, singularly and collectively, spectacular. From books and (Stickley) bookcases to carved African figures to designer sunglasses and cufflinks, Bourdain’s possessions evoke the man: a witty, globe-trotting badass. He also appreciated art, and his favorites, judging by the auction lots, seem to have been contemporary artists Ralph Steadman, Brad Phillips, and John Lurie. 

It was perhaps inevitable that some of the art and objects in his home would be gastronomic in theme. For example, a silkscreen print by Steadman titled Rats in the Kitchen, inscribed to Bourdain in 2009. Steadman is best known for his longtime collaboration with Hunter S. Thompson (who turns up later in the auction among the book lots). The bidding on this one started at $150 and was estimated to hit $500, but has already reached $12,000. 

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Brad Phillips, Eat, Pray, Get the Fuck Out. Watercolor on paper.

Another piece, a watercolor on paper by Phillips, seems like it was made for the sharp-tongued chef, though it was actually made in an edition of five. Titled Eat, Pray, Get the Fuck Out, it’s a playful jab at the 2010 book, Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, and the bidder who nabs it for a few thousand bucks will have an artistic-culinary-literary trifecta of epic proportions.

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John Lurie, The Judge was Hypnotized by Alcohol. Ink jet print on archival rag paper.

Fine spirits surface, too, in the form of this signed, limited Lurie print titled The Judge was Hypnotized by Alcohol, which perhaps spoke to Bourdain, who openly struggled with addiction. It was estimated to reach $200-300 and has already reached ten times the low estimate.

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Jacques Pepin, Untitled, 2008. Oil on canvas.

And who knew French chef Jacques Pepin was also an artist? An abstract oil painting of his that he gifted to Bourdain reveals the warm relationship between the colleagues. Its paltry auction estimate of $100-200 was demolished in less than 48 hours of live bidding.

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French Silvered Bronze Bibendum or Michelin Man Sculpture, c. 1950-1970.

Among the other food-related lots are a chrome duck press, a steel and meteorite chef’s knife, and a 22”-inch silvered bronze Michelin Man sculpture given to Bourdain by British chef Marco Pierre White—Michelin being the tire company that published a travel guide which led to the famous Michelin star system for high-end restaurants.
Fittingly, a “significant portion of the proceeds will benefit the Anthony Bourdain Legacy Scholarship at his alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America,” according to the auctioneer, Lark Mason Associates. 

About the Author

Rebecca Rego Barry

Rebecca Rego Barry is the author of Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places and the editor of Fine Books & Collections magazine.

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