Monday, June 19, 2017
A Burberry trench coat, once owned by Audrey Hepburn, will soon go to auction at Christie’s London. The estimated auction price for the item ranges from around $7,000 to $10,000. But, why this range? Why not $70,000 to $100,000? This is the question that Hume-Sayer and his team at Christie’s must grapple with as they arrange hundreds of objects once owned by Hepburn. Hume-Sayer notes that that objects themselves do not hold any great intrinsic value. It is the connection to the individual that they are really selling. Estimating this value can be incredibly difficult when dealing with celebrity memorabilia. A ring owned by Nancy Reagan, as an example, was “worth” $8,000 but sold at auction for $319,500. A little black Givenchy dress owned by Hepburn and worn in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s sold for 467,200 pounds. It had been estimated to sell at auction for 70,000 pounds. While these prices cannot be certain, the trend seems to be that the more it meant to the owner, the more it will mean to collectors. This may be a key in understanding an object’s normal value versus the price it will earn at auction. “It’s that closeness to her person,” Hume-Sayer said, “that really resonates with people.”
See James Tarmy, How Do You Put a Price on Audrey Hepburn’s Personal Treasures?, Bloomberg, June 15, 2017.
Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) & Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.