Vivien Leigh’s personal belongings auctioned for 2.5 million

Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel (r), in a scene from the movie “Gone with the Wind”. / Archive

Sotheby’s manages to raise five times more than estimated thanks to pieces such as the painting that Churchill gave him or the personal copy of ‘Gone with the Wind’

The auction of intimate objects of Vivien Leigh, the protagonist of
‘Gone With the Wind’, has raised 2,243,867 pounds sterling (2.5 million euros), more than five times the initial estimate made by the auction house Sotheby’s.

The most valued piece in the auction held in London was the painting ‘Stuydy of Roses’, which former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave to the actress and which was sold for 638,750 pounds (732,000 euros), nine times more than the initial estimate. The painting, a still life of roses painted by the politician himself in the 1930s, reveals the little-known story of his friendship with Leigh.

Another of the most sought after pieces during the auction was the personal copy of “Gone with the Wind”, which was given to him by the author Margaret Mitchell when the two women met in Atlanta, during the preparations for the world premiere of the film. Experts estimated the value of the copy at 5,000 pounds, which was finally sold for 50,000 pounds (57,000 euros).

broke all estimates a gold ring inscribed ‘Laurence Olivier Vivien Eternally’, in allusion to her husband, the English actor Laurence Olivier who reached a price of 37,500 pounds (43,000 euros), when its starting price was between 400 and 600 pounds.

intimate objects

A portrait of Leigh was another of the star objects of the auction sold for 71,000 euros. Likewise, other intimate objects were auctioned, such as the wig worn by Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois in the film ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, as well as Vivien Smythson’s diary from January 10, 1937 to November 25, 1939, which gives a vision of Vivien’s personal and professional life at the time she was catapulted to fame in her twenties.

The Sothesby’s auction, which
lasted almost eight hours, was the subject of great international expectation with more than 1,400 participants from 52 countries. For four days leading up to the auction, some 4,000 people flocked to Sotheby’s to see first-hand paintings, furniture, jewellery, needlework, silver, books and other items that celebrated all aspects of Vivien’s life. The auction house managed to fill the hall with bids and each of the 321 lots found a buyer who finally paid above the estimate.