A staggering, record-breaking bid of £520,000 for Hepburn’s working script for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a version that included deleted scenes and her own extensive annotations, was part of a hugely successful Christie’s (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) sale of her possessions held on September 27. It is one that has already been noted in an online ATG report
As well as works of art, furnishings, clothes and large numbers of photographs that made exceptionally high prices – not forgetting one of the star’s own paintings, My Garden Flowers, which reached £180,000 – several other film scripts were on offer.
Among them were Hepburn’s annotated script for the 1960s film version of My Fair Lady, which made £165,000, and that for War and Peace of 1956 at £45,000.
At the Vivien Leigh Collection auction at Sotheby’s (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) on the previous day, £40,000 was paid for an exceptional copy of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. Not a first, but a special two volume edition of 1939, it was given by Mitchell to the actress when they met at the film’s première.
Leigh later asked Mitchell to inscribe it, but the writer’s initial, regretful response was that she no longer complied with such requests.
“There is no one for whom I’d rather do this favour than you who brought Scarlett to life in a way that left me shaken and almost speechless. But I just can’t do it. I hope you’ll understand.”
And then Mitchell did something even better. She sent Vivien Leigh a card now laid down on the front pastedown that reads: “To Vivien Leigh – Life’s Pattern pricked with a scarlet thread / where once we worked with a gray / to remind us all how we played our parts / in the shock of an epic day / Margaret Mitchell” (above left).
Sold for £47,000 was Leigh’s copy of one of the 53 specially illustrated and bound copies of Sidney Howard’s film script that producer David O Selznick gave as Christmas presents in 1939 to those who had made notable contributions to the film.
It might have made even more had his presentation inscription not been cut out at some later stage.
In 1950 Leigh asked Winston Churchill to inscribe her standard copy of his 1948 book, Painting as a Pastime. However, he asked an equerry to find one of the limited number of the special, Zaehnsdorf-bound copies copies that had been produced and inscribed that instead.
The book sold for £12,000, but bid to £18,000 was a letter from Churchill in which he promised £500 for the campaign Leigh had launched to fight the proposed demolition of the St James’s Theatre.
Also among Leigh’s books was a 1953 first issue of Casino Royale that made £24,000 and a 1966, first UK edition of In Cold Blood, warmly inscribed for her by the author, Truman Capote. The latter made a record £13,000.