Past Auction

Doyle New York's Auction of the Estate of Famed New York Restaurateur Elaine Kaufman Totals $385,734

Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 2pm EDT |
New York
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September 20, 2011 Auction Far Surpasses the Pre-Sale Estimate of $187,495-287,415

  • September 20, 2011 Auction Far Surpasses the Pre-Sale Estimate of $187,495-287,415
  • Personal Items from Elaine's Upper East Side Restaurant and Penthouse, including Art, Books, Memorabilia, Furniture, Decorations and Accessories
  • Featuring Works by Andy Warhol, Helen Frankenthaler, Reginald Marsh, Wallace Berman, Arman, George Segal, Joe Eula, and Many Others

View Party Pics from Opening Night!


Doyle New York auctioned the personal collection of famed New York City restaurateur Elaine Kaufman to a standing-room-only crowd of bidders in the salesroom and hundreds of others on the telephones and the Internet. The September 20, 2011 auction comprised 242 lots of artwork, books, memorabilia, furniture, decorations, fashion and accessories that Elaine collected or was given during her lifetime. These personal treasures were displayed at her restaurant, Elaine’s, or her elegant Upper East Side penthouse.

Competitive bidding resulted in a successful sale total of $385,734 -- far surpassing the presale estimate of $187,495-287,415 -- with a remarkable 98% sold by lot and 97% by value. Only 7 lots failed to sell.


Memorabilia from Elaine’s eponymous restaurant attracted a strong interest at the sale. The top lot from the restaurant was Elaine’s Table #1 with a set of four chairs. The first table in "The Line," it was the most desirable table in the house. Patrons sat at this table to see and be seen. Estimated at $400-600, it sold for a staggering $8,750 to a buyer in Massachusetts.

Other Elaine's restaurant memorabilia fared equally well at the sale. The colorfully painted papier mache figure of a Christmas carousel horse that hung prominently in the restaurant's front window soared past its estimate of $200-300, selling to a buyer from Connecticut for a stunning $4,063. The familiar vintage black painted metal cash register that sat behind the bar also sold for $4,063, many times its estimate of $400-600, to a buyer from Connecticut. A set of four oak bar stools estimated at $150-250 achieved $1,250 from a New York buyer. A butcher block table from the restaurant’s kitchen sold for $2,813, many times its estimate of $200-300, to a New York buyer.

Elaine Kaufman’s Upper East Side penthouse was her personal sanctuary. She filled it with her extensive collection of fine art and her beloved books, many of which were gifts from the authors – friends and patrons of Elaine’s restaurant.  


Highlighting her collection of art was a photographic collage by West Coast artist Wallace Berman estimated at $30,000-50,000 that achieved $41,250 from a California buyer. A small 1979 abstract executed in acrylic on canvas by Helen Frankenthaler soared past its estimate of $4,000-6,000 to fetch a stunning $25,000 from a Midwestern buyer.

Elaine’s collection of fine prints featured a colorful screenprint of flowers by Andy Warhol that surpassed its estimate of $10,000-15,000, selling for $18,750 to aNew York buyer. An etching and aquatint of a Panama Hat by David Hockneyachieved $11,875from a Texas buyer, almost doubling its estimate of $5,000-7,000.

Art Nouveau Posters

Elaine Kaufman’s collection of French Art Nouveau posters was highlighted by Alphonse Mucha’s 1986 Salon des Cent estimated at $8,000-12,000 that sold to a New York buyer for $25,000. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1895 Mademoiselle Marcelle Lender, en Buste estimated at $7,000-10,000 sold for $13,750 to a buyer in Germany.

“I am pleased to be working with Doyle New York on this auction,” said Diane Becker, Elaine’s longtime restaurant manager who inherited her estate. “Elaine lived a long, happy and prosperous life. She lined the walls of her restaurant and home with artwork, books, photographs and memorabilia, some of which was given to her by the wonderful people she met night after night at her restaurant. I feel that this is the best – and frankly only – way I know to share Elaine with those she cared about most – her Elaine’s family.”

All prices include the buyer's premium.

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To have your property evaluated for possible consignment in the next auction, please contact:

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  • Estate of Elaine Kaufman

A Selection of Auction Highlights