Stair’s The World of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman Auction Generates Star-Studded Results
Stair, of Hudson, NY, presented its The World of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman auction on July 13, 2023. This 288-lot sale featured materials from the legendary actors Paul Newman (American, 1925 – 2008) and Joanne Woodward (American, b. 1930). Both recipients of numerous performing and philanthropic awards, Newman and Woodward were married for 50 years until Mr. Newman’s passing in 2008. Unlike many Hollywood couples of their era, they opted to live and raise their family far from the spotlight in Westport, CT. Many of the featured items in this sale were from their New England and mid-Atlantic homes and offices. Here are some of the top lots from this all-star event.
Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman had a great eye for fine art, and this sale featured many premier examples from their well curated collections. The top lot in the sale, #241, was Marc Chagall’s (1887 – 1985) Eiffel Tower with Donkey and The Opera. These two color lithographs on wove paper were estimated at $1,000 to $1,500, realized $14,080, and produced four bids. Both were from 1954 and signed by the artist in pencil. Each work was identically matted and presented in gilt frames.
Both of these works featured themes of great interest to Chagall– Paris and the performing arts. In addition to producing drawings and paintings featuring these passions, he also designed theater sets and created murals and other decorated spaces for well-known entertainment venues. These included the Winter Gate Theatre, the Frankfort Theatre, the Lincoln Art Center- Metropolitan Opera House, and the Paris Opera House, among others.
Decorative and functional art, including sculptures, silver, fine table settings, and glass, were also well represented in this Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman sale. A big surprise was lot #254, an unmarked Italian colored glass vase. It was estimated at $100 to $200 and traded hands at $12,160. This teardrop-shaped example was teal, amber, and crimson and was decorated in a harlequin pattern. Given it had 37 bids, it clearly called to a number of collectors who must have known something special about this under-the-radar example.
Everyday personal items used by the actors– including clothing and accessories– also caught the eye of bidders worldwide. Lot #285, Joanne Woodward’s silver metal and turquoise concho belt, was estimated at $200 to $400, sold for $3,200, and generated 33 bids. It was unmarked and measured 33.5 inches long. It was composed of over a dozen silver-colored medallions set with turquoise stones and a large buckle, all strung together on a black leather belt.
Concho belts can be worn by both men and women. The word “concho” is derived from the Spanish word meaning “shell.” These waist accessories have their origins as far back as the early 1700s. Their basic medallion elements were based in part on hair ornaments seen on Southern Plains Indians and were first made from metals including silver, copper, and/or brass.
Also taking the spotlight in this auction were props and other materials used by Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman in some of their most iconic film roles. Lot #5, a pair of Frye brand leather boots from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, was estimated at $800 to $1,200, scored $8,320 and generated 33 bids. These well-worn kicks were size 10-1/2 D and included their “Frye Handcrafted since 1863” manufacturer’s label.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was a 1969 buddy Western movie starring Paul Newman in the title role as outlaw-on-the-run Butch Cassidy. The film, with a production budget of $6 million, would go on to take $103.2 million at the box office. It was nominated for seven total Academy Awards and won four. These included Best Story and Screenplay – Based on Material Not Previously Published or Produced; Best Cinematography; Best Original Score for a Motion Picture (Not a Musical); and Best Song, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head with music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David.
This sale rounded out with furniture, antiques, books, ephemera, and other category-bridging materials from the Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman collections. Lot #26, a Continental provincial pine and cherry writing table, was estimated at $1,000 to $1,500, made $4,480, and generated 19 bids. This desk was located in the couple’s offices in Westport, CT. This handsome contemporary piece was made from repurposed older elements using traditional construction techniques.
For more information on Stair’s The World of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman auction, visit Stair.
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