The Estate of American Icon Barbara Walters at Bonham

Friday, September 29, 2023
The Estate of American Icon Barbara Walters at Bonham

Bonhams announces The Estate of Barbara Walters: American Icon on November 6 in New York. Barbara Walters (1929-2022) was a trailblazer who reshaped the media landscape, breaking barriers for women in journalism.

From Walters’ Upper East Side home where she lived for three decades, the collection offers over 300 lots of American Art, jewelry, fashion, furniture, and decorative items as well as cherished personal effects. An online sale will also run from October 29 to November 7. The collection will tour to Bonhams salerooms, beginning in Walters’ hometown of Boston at Bonhams Skinner, followed by Los Angeles, as well as an international tour to Europe and Asia, before the final sale in New York. As directed by Walters, a committed philanthropist, the net proceeds of the sale will benefit charities dear to Walters.

"Barbara Walters was a remarkable woman who conquered many milestones throughout her illustrious life,” commented Bruno Vinciguerra, CEO of Bonhams and The Bonhams Network. “We are privileged to present her collection and recognize the immense importance of preserving her legacy, ensuring that her achievements continue to inspire and captivate generations to come.”

Walters was the first female co-host of a U.S. network news program (on NBC’s “Today” show) and the first female network news anchor (on ABC Evening News). She broke barriers rising to the top during her formative years, demonstrating her deft interview skills which received strong ratings from viewers. From co-hosting the top-rated ABC News magazine show 20/20 for 25 years, to her “Barbara Walters Specials, to creating “The View” – a program that empowers the voices of different women – her career spanned over five decades. Her extensive list of interviewees reads like a Who’s Who of the powerful, rich, and famous from the 1970s onwards. They ranged from royalty (King Hussein of Jordan and his wife, Queen Noor, Prince Charles) to every U.S. President and first lady from Richard and Pat Nixon to Barack and Michelle Obama, as well as numerous international political figures, such as Fidel Castro, the Shah of Iran, and cultural icons such as Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Oprah Winfrey. Walters has received national recognition for her work and has been the recipient of numerous prestigious honors and awards, which included 11 Emmy Awards, induction into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame (1990), a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (2000), and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2007), though nothing can truly measure up to the pathways she forged for today’s female anchors and television stars.

“My mother was a devoted journalist, loyal friend, and loving mother. Our home was always filled with interesting and beautiful reminders of her incredible, diverse life," remarked Walters’ daughter, Jacqueline Danforth. “I know she would find comfort that these pieces she cherished so much will be enjoyed and cared for.”

Barbara Walters’ New York Apartment.

Walters’ Upper East Side apartment was decorated by Mario Buatta and featured classical décor juxtaposed with modern statement pieces alongside an incredible collection of American Art. Walters’ character is personified in her home’s design and art collection – a strong sense of femininity seen in the ornate furniture and paintings of idyllic scenes with women frequently center stage – mixed with bold choices seen in the animal prints and red-walled library.

Walters enjoyed hosting gatherings at her apartment overlooking Central Park. She would host a party of 50+ where all her silverware and fine China were put to use, or she would invite her crew to watch major interviews over Chinese food. When she wasn’t hosting, Walters liked her home to feel like a sanctuary – a place where she could “collapse, relax and enjoy your day,” as she often said.The collection of American Art held special significance for Walters, serving as a reminder of her New England roots. The paintings were artfully integrated with the overall decor of the home, creating an atmosphere of elegance that beautifully showcased these 19th-century masterpieces. Highlights include the Swan Boat, Boston Public Gardens (1950s) by John Whorf (1903-1959) displayed above her bed, a work that reminded Walters of her mother, and Flower Girls (Peonies) (1888-1889) by Childe Hassam (1859-1935), her favorite as she said in her autobiography because it reminds her of the flower markets in Paris. The Tenth Street Studio (1884-1915) by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) was prominently displayed in her living room, a worthy location for this museum-quality piece. One of the stars of the collection is Egyptian Woman (Coin Necklace) (1891) by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), a rare and coveted work by the celebrated portraitist. Estimated at $1.2 – 1.8 million, the painting draws parallels to Sargent’s masterpiece, Portrait of Madame X, which courted both fame and controversy for its daring portrayal. The high level of finish of her face in profile is striking.


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Image of the Day

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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