In the yard, the telltale signs of spring’s arrival
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    Auction Finds

    Oprah cleans house & you can buy at her ‘yard sale’

    Oprah Winfrey has culled some of the furnishings from her four homes, and put the stuff up for auction. Starting at 10 a.m. Pacific time in California tomorrow, you can bid on her lamps, chairs, autographed electric bikes and photos, beautiful 18th- and 19th-century furniture and much much more.

    The auction contains 584 lots, half which belong to Winfrey. The rest are from Bob Greene, her personal trainer and buddy, and what the auction house said were “from various fine estates.” Some are antiques, and some are not. Checking the 29 pages of preview photos on the Kaminiski Auctions website, it appeared that most of the items already had bids.


    18th-century Louis XVI a la reine armchairs by Jean Baptiste Lelarge at Oprah Winfrey auction. Photos from Kaminski Auctions website.

    This wasn’t surprising – who wouldn’t want something touched by Oprah Winfrey in their homes (or to hold on to as an investment). Her auction draws much the same interest – well, maybe more – as the one two years ago featuring items from Lena Horne’s estate.

    The auction house called this a “yard sale,” but the prices – though some were manageable – didn’t exactly reflect that. The Winfrey items ranged from the estimated price of $100 to $50,000, and included some gorgeous antique American, French, English and Italian furniture.

    The offerings indicate a woman of eclectic tastes, and the furniture and accessories exuded a feeling of comfort. They came from her home in Santa Barbara, her apartment in Chicago, her farm in Indiana and her home in Maui.


    Jeweled bowl with glass, enamel and semi-precious stones at the Oprah Winfrey auction.

    But Winfrey apparently felt that they did not reflect her. She wrote in her “O” magazine earlier this year:

    “The gilded mirrors, marble urns, the lavish carpets and sherbet palette — it was all very grand, but it wasn’t very true to myself. And there you have it: That thing that had been missing from all the beautiful places I’d ever lived in was me!”

    Here’s a photographic look at what she’s changing, from the March issue of the magazine. And here’s a glimpse at what’s being auctioned:


    Autographed early photos of Oprah Winfrey: An enlarged portrait that hung in her home (left), portrait with inscription (center) and TV Guide cover photo (right) at auction.

    Photos and portraits

    Winfrey seemed to have sat down presumably in September to sign each of the photos. They are all dated 9/12/13. I imagined she autographed them to bring in more bucks – which was smart since the proceeds will help fund the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

    One portrait had an inscription: “Happiness, Success, Joy, Peace, Oprah Winfrey, 9/12/13.”

    The photos included Winfrey with Michael Jordan, Vogue and TV Guide magazine covers, one from a book about her life and several early solo photos, including one that was said to have hung in her home in Santa Barbara.


    “The Women of Brewster Place” by Phoebe Beasley (left), “Ladies’ Day VI” by Allen Stringfellow (center) and Nativity scene with angels by Clementine Hunter (right) at Oprah Winfrey auction.


    The artwork included some names familiar and unfamiliar to me. There were originals and prints by African American artists Allen Stringfellow, Carrie Mae Weems, Romare Bearden (the auction house misspelled his name Beardon), folk artist Clementine Hunter and Dox Thrash. Another was Chris Roberts-Antieau, a white fabric artist whose works I purchased at auction some years ago.

    There was also an original collage titled “The Women of Brewster Place” by artist Phoebe Beasley, along with prints of the collage. Winfrey appeared in the 1989 TV miniseries of the book by Gloria Naylor of the same name.


    This green sofa by George Smith was in Oprah Winfrey’s home in Santa Barbara.

    George Smith chairs

    Winfrey seemed to be very fond of George Smith upholstered chairs, because she seemed to have plenty of them in her home. The stuffed sofa and chairs in creams and greens in the auction photos looked especially comfortable and comforting, as if you could just lose yourself in them.

    green plaid sofa up for auction sat in Winfrey’s Santa Barbara home in a room with green plaid wall covering.


    1920s photo of Booker T. Washington (center) and other African Americans at the Oprah Winfrey auction.

    Photo of Booker T. Washington

    The auction house identified one item as a “photographic print of a group of eight people before a store front, c. 1920s, with plaque, ‘To Oprah Winfrey, from MWULC, 8/23/86.'”

    When I looked at the African Americans in the photo, I saw that Booker T. Washington was standing in the center.


    One of five Jetson electric bikes at the Oprah Winfrey auction.

    Jetson electric bikes

    There are five of the Jetson electric bikes of various colors, all signed by Winfrey.


    Tete Jumeau doll and Victorian-style doll carriage at Oprah Winfrey auction.

    Jumeau doll

    I’m not sure if Winfrey is a doll collector, but one of the items is a French Tete Jumeau doll (these dolls were made during the 19th century). Also included in the auction is a Victorian-style doll carriage.


    An 18th-century Louis XVI bureau stamped “Boudin” at Oprah Winfrey auction.


    There were lots of antique furniture, including tables, stands, desks, clocks, chests and cabinets.

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