Ruth Bader Ginsburg Auction Raises Over $800,000

Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s silver tea set will be given to a family with a 5-year-old daughter who once dressed as Ginsburg for Halloween. A medal Ginsburg received when she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame is for a family that recently spoke out for reproductive rights. And a drawing of the late judge that hung in her office was a Mother’s Day gift from a Utah scientist to his wife.

In all, an online auction of 150 items owned by the late judge raised $803,650 for the Washington National Opera, one of Ginsburg’s passions. The auction ended in late April and buyers are now picking up items or arranging to have them shipped to their homes in 38 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and Germany. Winning bids ranged from $850 to $55,000.

Elizabeth Haynie Wainstein, owner of The Potomack Company auction house in Virginia, said they were “really blown away by the interest.” A pre-sale estimate suggested the auction could fetch between $50,000 and $80,000.

Ginsburg died of cancer at age 87 as of September 2020. In her later years, the court’s second female judge and liberal icon also became a pop culture figure known as “Notorious RBG”. In January, an online auction of her books fetched $2.3 million, nearly 30 times the pre-sale estimate, according to Bonhams, the company that held the auction.

Washington National Opera artistic director Francesca Zambello, a friend of Ginsburg, said proceeds from the auction will be “a big help this year as we try to cultivate a return of our audience” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The largest ticket item in the auction was the Ginsburg drawing, which sold for $55,000. The image of her had accompanied a 2015 article about her in The New York Times. Ginsburg liked it so much that she got a copy for her Supreme Court office signed by the artist, Eleanor Davis. The buyer asked that her name not be made public.

Other major sales included modern art that Ginsburg had collected. A terracotta jug by Pablo Picasso that he displayed in his living room sold for $25,000, while a ceramic plate by Picasso that hung in his dining room sold for $22,500. A copy of “Red Orange Wall” by Josef Albers, which hung in Ginsburg’s bedroom, sold for $27,500. Albers was among Ginsburg’s favorite artists, and an original work of his on loan from the Smithsonian was prominently displayed in his court office.

Even much less valuable Ginsburg pieces sold for large sums. A drawing that one of Ginsburg’s grandsons, Paul Spera, did when he was a child showing his grandmother as the Statue of Liberty sold for $12,000. At the top, Spera had written “Bubbie of Liberty,” using the Yiddish word for grandmother.

Other sales included $5,000 for a souvenir glass vase given to attendees at a Capitol luncheon following President Barack Obama’s first inauguration, $16,000 for a black mink coat with Ginsburg’s name sewn on in a pocket and $30,000 for her 2002 National Women’s Hall of Fame medal. Buyers paid another 27% in auction fees on top of their winning bid.

Before her death, Ginsburg displayed a number of items that were auctioned off at her apartment in the Watergate complex in Washington. The auction’s online catalog included images of how Ginsburg had displayed those items.

Jennifer DiBrienza, an educator from California, was the medal winner and spent almost double what she had planned. As bidding neared the end of the auction and raised the price, she thought, “I’ve been winning this for days. I can’t quit now,” she said.

DiBrienza, who along with her three children rallied last week after the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the court’s 1973 national right to abortion, said she hopes having Ginsburg’s medal will be “a reason to talk about her.” “

Krishan Paramesvaran was the winner of two items: a $3,500 wooden sculpture and a $5,000 silver tea set. The tech executive and father of three said his family plans to put the sculpture in the living room and the tea set next to the china in the dining room. The tea set will be mainly for display, he said, though he imagines it will be used once or twice. Paramesvaran said her 5-year-old daughter, the one who dressed up as Ginsburg for Halloween, knows he is close to her and in the past they had talked to her about “powerful women” and “the impact RBG has had.” .

Right now, he said, the family is “super, super excited” as they wait for the items to be shipped to them in Washington state. Paramesvaran said: “We have not been able to stop thinking about the fact that we are about to have something that she owned in our house.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.