Legendary singer and actress Lena Horne, who became the first African-American to sign a long-term contract with a major movie studio, died on May 9. She was best-known for her performance of the song "Stormy Weather" from the 1943 movie musical of the same name. She was 92.
Lena Horne was known for her elegance as much as for her sultry voice.
On Wednesday, 200 items that once filled her Manhattan apartment were being sold by her estate at Doyle New York auction house, objects that epitomized her sophisticated taste: French-style furnishing, elegant costumes, jewelry and fine art.
Many admirers of the singer and actress may find that owning a piece of the legendary star's belongings may not be out of reach.
A sequined cardigan evening coat is estimated to sell for as little as $100-$200, while a small Louis Vuitton trunk with stickers inscribed Lena Horne Hayton was being offered with a pre-sale price of $500-$700. And a soft leather vanity case inscribed LH was estimated at $200-$400.
Horne's favorite designer was Giorgio di Sant' Angelo, and a reversible mink coat by the Italian creator was estimated at $300-$500. A Chanel five-strand choker of gold-tone metal links and faux baroque pearls had a $1,000-$1,200 pre-sale estimate.
The auction house said the estimates were based on current market values but that the celebrity provenance was the "X factor" that would determine the price at auction.
The highest priced item in the sale is a colorful abstract painting by African American artist and muralist Charles Alston, estimated to bring $30,000 to $50,000.
Horne's refined taste extended to the furnishings in her Upper East Side home. A Rococo-style gilt-metal and glass 12-light chandelier and a pair of Continental Rococo-style gilt wood mirrors are both estimated at $1,500 to $2,500.
Horne, who was also a dancer and civil rights activist, died last May at the age of 92. She appeared on screen, stage, on records and in nightclubs and concert halls. Her signature song was "Stormy Weather" but her vocal range extended from blues and jazz and to such Rodgers and Hart classics as "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered."
In the 1940s, Horne was one of the first black performers hired to sing with a major white band, the first to play the famed Copacabana nightclub in New York City and among a handful with a Hollywood contract.
A striking figure, Horne was the subject of some of the artworks in her collection, including a 1959 portrait by Geoffrey Holder, estimated at $2,500-$3,500, and a 1950 bronze sculpture by Peter Lambda that could bring $3,000-$5,000.
The collection also includes books and photographs, among them a group of books autographed by Langston Hughes ($300-$500) and a selection of contact sheets by Richard Avedon taken during a photo shoot with Horne ($75-$100).