The Estate of Venerable Writer Joan Didion Is Heading to Auction

When author and critic Joan Didion offered two pairs of her sunglasses (priced at $2,500 each) as part of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for her nephew Griffin Dunne’s documentary back in 2014, eager buyers were quick to add to cart. Thus spurred an initial understanding of the market’s demand for totems of the American writer’s personal style and the objects that informed her experiences and worldview.

Now, fans of Didion’s inimitable wit, prose, and image will have another opportunity to purchase the art and objects with which she and her husband, John Gregory Dunne, surrounded themselves in multiple California homes and, ultimately, in their apartment in New York’s Upper East Side. The “An American Icon: Property From the Collection of Joan Didion” sale, hosted by Stair Galleries, will feature fine art, home decor, furniture, and books, and it is scheduled to take place on November 16. Prior to it, the auction catalog will debut on October 31, with the gallery exhibition in Hudson, New York, following on November 4.

An assemblage of Didion’s books and decor that will be featured in the sale.

Photography courtesy Stair Galleries

Stair Galleries’s fine art specialist Lisa Thomas and her team had access to the apartment that the legendary couple shared until Dunne’s death in 2003, followed 18 years later by Didion’s passing last December. “Once we did our initial walkthrough, we could see themes and commonalities between her work, her writing, the art she collected, and then the objects and things that she lived with,” Thomas says. “It all just really told the story of who she was as a person, how she wrote, and what was important to her.”

The belongings also reflect the influential creative circles the family moved in on both coasts, as well as Didion’s Northern California roots. Paintings in the collection from seminal figures including Jennifer Bartlett, Richard Diebenkorn, Sam Francis, and Ed Ruscha were often gifts from the artists themselves. Also among the offerings are two photographs of Hermann Hesse’s typewriter, taken by Patti Smith, with inscriptions to Didion. “They were friends and great admirers of each other’s work,” Thomas notes.

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