Past Timed Auction

Special Collections: The Estate of Monique Van Vooren

Soft close begins Thu, Oct 15, 2020 at 10am EDT
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Famed Film and Stage Actress and Friend of Andy Warhol


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  • Timed Auction of the Estate of Monique Van Vooren Closing on Thursday, October 1`5, 2020 Beginning at 10am EDT
  • Property the Estate of the Famed Actress Features Items Highlighting Her Close Relationships with Rudolf Nureyev, Hiram Keller and Andy Warhol

NEW YORK, NY -- Doyle's category of Special Collections continued with the timed auction of the Estate of Monique Van Vooren on October 15, 2020. Featured in the sale wass jewelry, memorabilia and artwork from the estate of the famed actress, as well as items highlighting her close relationships with Rudolf Nureyev, Hiram Keller and Andy Warhol.

With competitive bidding, the sale totaled a successful $62,319 against an estimate of $41,180-63,120 with 75% sold by lot and an impressive 100% by value.

Monique Van Vooren (1927-2020) was a film and stage actress who enjoyed a long career with diverse roles ranging from the 1960s television series Batman to Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein and Oliver Stone’s Wall Street. Belgian-born and a champion ice skater and beauty queen in her youth, Van Vooren arrived in New York in 1950 to study philosophy on a Fulbright scholarship. Outside of her acting career, Van Vooren recorded the album Mink in Hi-Fi in 1958 and published the novel Night Sanctuary In 1983. But it was through her circle of friends that many came to know Monique Van Vooren.

Warhol devoted a chapter in 1979's Exposures to Monique Van Vooren and her great friend Sylvia Miles (Doyle offered property from Miles’ estate in 2019), memorably writing: "Monique lives on the East Side in a white brick high-rise with lots of doormen and closed-circuit TV. She has a four-and-a-half room apartment covered in zebra skin rugs and wallpapered with photographs of herself with famous men. Monique and Nureyev. Monique and Erik Bruhn. Monique and Valentino. There's a signed photograph of JFK on her baby grand piano. There's a mirror over her bed."

Warhol cast Van Vooren as Baroness Frankenstein in his 1973 adaptation Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein, now a cult classic, directed by Paul Morrissey and starring Udo Kier and Joe Dallesandro. Warhol and Van Vooren would be photographed dozens of times together in the 1970s and 80s. Offered in the auction are two Warhol screenprints inscribed to Van Vooren, Ladies and Gentlemen (Lot 8) and Mao (Lot 9), in addition to a signed cover of Interview magazine (Lot 7) and inscribed copies of Exposures (Lots 3 & 4) and The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (Lot 2).

Monique Van Vooren and Rudolf Nureyev were also very close friends. A very fine offering in the auction is a large selection of items gifted from Nureyev to Van Vooren including an inscribed copy of the important 1976 book on the dancer The Nureyev Image as well as a signed program from his Marguerite and Armand. Also in the lot is the large red towel embroidered “Rudolf” and an example of the wide brimmed hats that Nureyev frequently wore (Lot 15). Of the relationship, Warhol wrote: "Monique's best friend is Rudolf Nureyev. He stays at her place whenever he's in town. Monique is so devoted to him that she gives up her bed under the mirror and sleeps on the sofa in the library. Monique would do anything for Nureyev."

A patron of the theater, Van Vooren convinced the producers of Hair: The American Tribal Rock Musical in the late 1960s to include her friend Hiram Keller as a member of The Tribe (a group that also included a young Diane Keaton). The quintessential 1960s musical, Hair was about "a group of politically active, long-haired hippies of the 'Age of Aquarius' living a bohemian life in New York City and fighting against conscription into the Vietnam War." Offered in the sale is an archive of rare items relating to Hair including an original script and interesting photographs (Lot 11). Despite the famous nudity in the production itself, Van Vooren made quite a splash at the opening: "Monique Van Vooren, the Belgian actress, international sex symbol, and theatrical investor, has declared her intention of wearing her new, transparent chiffon blouse by Yves Saint Laurent to the Broadway opening of Hair tomorrow evening. If Miss Van Vooren follows through there will be nothing (such as a bra or a body stocking) standing between her and any other first nighters who happen to be looking at her.” Ephemera relating to this groundbreaking musical is uncommon.

Beyond items highlighting these important relationships, the auction offers a glamorous photograph of Van Vooren by Francesco Scavullo (Lot 10), paintings and furnishings, clothing and accessories by Yves Saint Laurent and Hermès, and fine jewelry including a Kaufmann De Suisse Triple Strand Two-Color Gold, Aquamarine, Peridot and Pink Tourmaline Bead Necklace, Ring and Pair of Earclips (Lot 44).

See Andy Warhol, Exposures, Grosset & Dunlap, 1979, p. 176. For the quote on the opening night of Hair see: "Hair - Topless, and No Bottoms, Either" by Marilyn Bender in The New York Times, 28 April 1968.

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