Books & Autographs

Aileen Mehle: Suzy Says

Aileen Mehle, known for decades as the society columnist Suzy, brought the rarified world of international high society into the homes of regular Americans in her widely-read columns – and now the May 24 auction features a trove of letters, books, photographs and memorabilia from her estate, offering bidders the opportunity to own for themselves some of the fascinating and often titillating correspondence and items gifted to her from the glitterati of the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Beginning with the art world, Aileen Mehle is mentioned several times in The Andy Warhol Diaries, and the sale offers a copy of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol inscribed with an original drawing of his iconic Campbell’s soup can. This lot is enhanced by a photograph depicting Mehle with Warhol and several dapper men dressed in black tie in the chic black painted-dripping gilt living room of a private residence or Manhattan club (lot 257).  

Aileen Mehle was constantly photographed by the most famous names in photography, and the sale includes examples of her portraits by Norman Parkinson, Hiro, Francesco Scavullo and Bert Stern – but she is at her most stylish in a portrait shot by Bill King for Blackglama which was featured in Peter Roger's 1979 What Becomes a Legend Most? The Blackglama Story, and vintage copies of this portrait and a first edition of that book are available among the many photographs and contact sheets in lot 262.

Delving deeper into a phenomenon that Aileen’s helped promulgate: America’s national fascination with celebrity. The collection features two lots comprising dozens of signed and inscribed books by various personalities in all genres and spanning generations such as, in lot 266, Joan Rivers, Brooke Astor, Norman Mailer, Mary Tyler Moore, Gay Talese, Bennett Cerf, Gloria Vanderbilt, Malcolm Forbes and Billy Baldwin; and in lot 263 Bob Colacello, Marylou Whitney, George Plimpton, Margot Fonteyn, Norman Mailer, Michael Caine, Guy de Rothschild, and Natalia Makarova.

Aileen's letters and signed include several from confidant Joan Crawford (lot 259), close friend Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (lot 260), politicians Richard Nixon (lot 267), Margaret Thatcher (lot 263), Jimmy and Roslyn Carter (lot 268) and several letters, photographs and White House invitations from First Lady Nancy Reagan (lot 268).

But at her core Mehle was a writer and she corresponded professionally and personally with New York’s cognoscenti: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wrote several handwritten notes on her Doubleday stationery encouraging Mehle to write a book (lot 265); Truman Capote, exiled from New York society following his Answered Prayers debacle, writes a guarded postcard from his seclusion on a Caribbean island (lot 258); Helen Gurley-Brown, the revered editor at Vogue, has written Mehle over thirty letters and others are present from Allure author Diana Vreeland and Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter (lot 261); and the conservative mastermind-cum-spy novelist William F. Buckley Jr. has inscribed over 30 books to Mehle (lot 264).  

Finally, a large lot of various correspondence includes dozens of the bold-faced names that capture the era:  Edward, Duke of Windsor, Cecil Beaton, Barbara Walters, Bunny Mellon, Oleg Cassini, Claus von Bülow, Cary Grant, Rex Reed, Dominick Dunne, Earl Blackwell, Diane von Furstenberg, Nan Kempner, C.Z. Guest, Martha Graham, Geraldo Rivera, Estee Lauder and others.

The Estate of Aileen Mehle

Doyle is honored to auction the Estate of Aileen Mehle, known to her fans worldwide as the society columnist Suzy. Her elegant furniture, decorations, paintings, couture, costume jewelry, accessories, photographs, and memorabilia will be offered as a featured section comprising lots 115 through 325 in the auction of Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 10am.  Read More 

Portrait of specialist Peter Costanzo
SVP/Executive Director, Books, Autographs & Photographs / Estate & Appraisal Services
Books & Autographs
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