Fans of celebrated actress, fashion legend and humanitarian Audrey Hepburn will be given a exclusive look into her life thanks to an auction of her belongings by her two sons, which includes a public exhibition.
Some of the never-before-seen items for sale at Christie’s include garments by Hubert de Givenchy, Hepburn’s long-time friend, collaborator and a celebrated couturier who first worked with the star on her second Hollywood film, Sabrina.
A highlight is a blue satin Givenchy cocktail dress worn by Hepburn in a promotional photo shoot with William Klein for Two for the Road in 1966. The gown has blue satin fringing and epitomises the deceptively simple style that Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn forged.
In 2006 the iconic black satin evening gown designed by Givenchy for Hepburn’s Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s set a new world record for an Audrey Hepburn item. It went for £456,200, even though presales estimates were for around £60,000. This gown is estimated to sell for between £10,000-15,000.
Another key piece exemplifying her signature look is an iconic Burberry raincoat, estimated to go for £6,000-8,000.
A collection of ballet flats in a rainbow range of colours, estimated to go for around £1,500, serve as a reminder to Hepburn's iconic gamine style and are perhaps influenced by the time she spent studying ballet as a chorus girl in London’s West End, before heading to Broadway in America and making her break.
As well as her wardrobe the auction will include scripts personally annotated by Hepburn for some of her most beloved films. It turns out Hepburn was known to use turquoise ink to make notes in the margins and on the left hand page. The Breakfast at Tiffany’s script is estimated to sell for between £60,000-80,000.
Another nod to the Emmy, Grammy and Tony award-winner's screen days is a cigarette lighter with the inscription ‘FOR MY FAIR LADY’ from art director Gene Allen in December 1963 - it is estimated to go for between £3,000-5,000.
Original portraits by major photographers from the star’s personal archive are also up for sale, with the majority dating from between 1953 and 1968 when she was at the height of her screen career. With estimates starting at just £100 it is an opportunity for some devotees to get their hands on a small part of her legacy.
This is the first time these items have been offered for sale and the first time they will leave the family. Hepburn’s sons Luca Dotti and Sean Hepburn Ferrer say they have decided to part with these items to continue the star’s philanthropic efforts.
In an interview with Vogue, Sean Ferrer says: “After 24 years, we’ve decided what we’re able to keep—we don’t have that many homes to fill—and we hated the idea that the things that wouldn’t be exhibited one day or that wouldn’t be utilized toward moving her nonprofit efforts [forward] would just sit in storage."
Hepburn devoted much of her later life to her charities. The year before she passed away, in December 1992, she was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, then 62-years old.
Her sons are still directly involved with two of her charities, Dotti is caring for the non-profit Audrey Hepburn’s Children’s Fund in California and Ferrer is the chair of the Audrey Hepburn Society at UNICEF.
In a moving statement for the auction house the brothers also say: “We lost our mother and best friend, and the world lost an enduring symbol of grace, elegance and humanity. We preserved our feelings for her as well as her belongings, each of which signified her life’s choices and philosophy. After 24 years we have focused on those items that we wished to keep, as well as those we are pleased to pass on to future generations.”
Hepburn’s sons also appreciate how adored she is around the world, telling Vogue: “It felt like it would be the right thing for all those people who loved her, who cared for her, to be generous and to share those few things.”
The collection will be on view to the public in an exhibition at Christie’s King Street, London from 23 September.
The live auction will take place at the same address on 27 September, alongside an online sale which will be open for bidding on 19 September and continue until 3 October.
“It is with great joy that we seek to share her spirit, through this sale, and its related previews, with all of those who have enjoyed her films and her sense of style, and who have followed her humanitarian legacy,” say her sons.
Images: Getty and Christie's.