With some homeowners downsizing and other homeowners upsizing, auction houses are busier than ever. Fresh off the flush of Valentine’s Day, The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc. will feature the estate of the late matchmaker extraordinaire Denise Winston at its “Red Carpet” auction on Wednesday, February 23, at 10 a.m. The New York socialite, who died in January 2020, had her own boutique business as a matchmaker and love coach.
Winston traveled in rarefied circles, hobnobbing with luminaries. She even consulted on the delightful 1996 film, “Emma,” starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Jane Austen’s titular heroine, who wreaks rom-com havoc as a busybody matchmaker – until she is happily matched herself.
While Winston accrued a collection of couture fashion accessories, notably designer handbags, she also had a love for New York sports teams and attended many games. (She could often be found courtside, cheering on the New York Knicks.) Judging by her large collection of concert Ts, she enjoyed rock ’n’ roll concerts, too. The far-ranging auction will include more than 200 lots from her estate, such as rugs, artworks, fashions, fine crystal and glass and furniture – as well as choice pieces from other estates.
“Denise was known as the Rolls Royce of matchmakers, who took pride in her work and in her own home that doubled as her office, where she created a warm and comfortable space,” said Pam Stone, founding owner of The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc. “She had quite interesting tastes, from striking artwork that included both classic and contemporary scenes to designer goods, sculpture, ceramics and fun costume jewelry.”
Among the handbags that will be offered are a Fendi limited-edition silk purse covered in seed beads and sequins on the outside with a fuzzy handle and gold-tone metal hardware ($200 to $800); three Hermès Birkin TOGO bags, including one in the firm’s signature orange color, one in red and a blue jean bag; a vintage Prada nylon and leather mini backpack ($200 to $600); a vintage Salvatore Ferragamo bucket bag ($200 to $600); a vintage Louis Viutton monogram handbag ($200 to $600); and a Judith Leiber vintage crystal cabochon minaudière ($100 to $500).
Going hand in hand with the designer bags is a fine selection of jewelry, led by a Bulgari Parentesi 18-karat yellow gold and diamond cuff bracelet with interlocking pieces, estimated at $500 to $2,000.
Buyers looking to redecorate their homes will find plenty of buying opportunities, such as a Modernist-looking, room-size Edward Fields wool-pile rug ($200 to $1,000) from Winston’s New York City apartment. The rug, which as a cream-colored ground with black curved line details and measures 112 by 88 inches, is expected to be a standout in the auction, along with a 49-inch vintage Venetian glass wall mirror ($100 to $500), with beveled glass panels in an octagonal shape.
Midcentury Modern continues to be a highly desirable market segment today. Highlighting the furniture category here is a Hans Wegner for PP Mobler halyard lounge chair ($500 to $2,000) with a plaited halyard seat and back along with a sheepskin cushion.
Fine art from Winston’s estate ranges from a signed Richard Quinn acrylic on canvas in the Abstract Expressionist style from 1990 to a signed Davis Cone/Roxy Day serigraph depicting a street scene with several storefronts and the Roxy, the town’s movie theater. Each is estimated at $100 to $500. Also crossing the block is a signed Peter Astrom acrylic on canvas ($2,000 to $10,000), an abstract composition with forceful brushstrokes set against a vivid blue background with a dark indigo line entwined, creating free form shapes, 76 by 68 inches.
Rounding out the auction are a Modernist crystal sculpture of a man and woman embracing, set on a black wood base, 18½ inches tall; a group of four Baccarat cut-crystal goblets; and a copy of Paul McCartney’s book “Paintings,” autographed by the author and former Beatle. Each is estimated at $100 to $500.
Monthly “Red Carpet” sales feature collections of antique, Midcentury Modern and brand furnishings, sterling, china, crystal, jewelry and fine art. With a mission of “to donate, to discover and to do good,” the foundation is a nonprofit whose proceeds support community organizations. Consignors get a tax deduction, the buyer gets a great deal and local nonprofits get much needed funds.
The auction gallery is at 185 Kisco Ave, Suite 201. For more, visit thebenefitshop.org or call 914-864-0707.