Auction  November 7, 2023  Rebecca Schiffman

See What Sold at the Barbara Walters Estate Sale at Bonhams

Getty Images/Bonhams

Barbara Walters, photo by Douglas Kirkland, Getty Images. 

Barbara Walters led a sixty-year career in broadcast journalism, breaking boundaries for women in the field. While she climbed the ranks at television programs including Today, the ABC Evening News, 20/20, and The View, she also amassed an eclectic and thoughtful collection of American art, jewelry, fashion, furniture, and decorative items. After her death in 2022, her daughter, Jacqueline Danforth worked with Bonhams to put together her estate sale. The sale, “The Estate of Barbara Walters: American Icon,” which closed last night, had over 300 lots from Walters’ collection, many of which exceeded their estimates.

The majority of the lots came from Walters’ Upper East Side apartment, where she lived for three decades. The apartment was decorated by Mario Buatta and mixed classical decor with modern statement pieces. A pair of gilt metal candlesticks in the shape of ostriches, which sold for $6,400, were juxtaposed in her home with a William and Mary brass bound chinoiserie from the 17th century, which was realized at $8,320.

Bonhams

The star lot of the Barbara Walters estate auction at Bonhams was this Harry Winston platinum 13.84 carat diamond ring, which sold for $699,000.

Walters’ jewelry collection was a highlight of the sale – not only did she have exquisite pieces including bespoke JAR jewels and a Harry Winston 13.84-carat diamond ring, but she wore special pieces while interviewing stars and politicians. On the subject, Jean Ghika, Bonhams Global Head of Jewelry commented, “Walters clearly had a genuine love for jewelry and it reflected a large part of her identity, acting as a form of armor and feminine adornment in a male-dominated world.” 

The star lot of this collection, the Harry Winston platinum diamond ring was sold for $699,000, which was within its estimate of $600,000-900,000. Another special piece was a pair of diamond and gem-set earrings by the renowned jewelry designer Joel Arthur Rosenthal, who goes by JAR. These paisley-shaped earrings including peridot, tourmaline, sapphire, and diamond, were sold for $203,700, a price well within the estimate ($180,000-250,000).

Bonhams

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) Egyptian Woman (Coin Necklace) 25 58 x 20 in. (65.1 x 50.8 cm.) (Painted in 1891.)

Walters also had an incredible collection of American art. Growing up in New England, Walters felt strongly about collecting American pieces. The star within this collection is a John Singer Sargent painting, Egyptian Woman (Coin Necklace) (1891). This rare portrait’s first owner was Sir Philip Sassoon, a major Jewish collector before it was given to his sister, Sybil. It was then acquired by Walters. This work, with an estimate of $1.2-1.8 million, it appears, did not find a buyer. Other major works that were sold include The Peony Girl by Childe Hassam for $622,800,  The Tenth Street Studio by William Merrit Chase for $508,500, and Franklin Park, Boston by Maurice Brazil Prendergast, which sold for $114,800. 

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