Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 October 2020

Waldorf Astoria New York to auction 15,000 items: including from Kuwaiti emir's suite

Pieces up for sale include a headboard from the Marilyn Monroe residence and a grand piano from Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz's former suite

For more than a century, the Waldorf Astoria New York has ushered the rich and famous through its Park Avenue entrance. Now, many of its historic pieces are being offered to private collectors around the world.

The Fine Furnishings of the Historic Waldorf Astoria New York auction by Kaminski opened with previews on Saturday. Bidding will run from October 17 to November 15.

Listed is everything from a set of hotel room rubbish bins and a Samsung television to a crushed velvet fainting sofa from the suite that formerly hosted Elizabeth Taylor.

Several items from the opulent suite of the late Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz are on sale, including a baby grand piano, several chandeliers and a mahogany writing desk.

This Steinway and Sons baby grand piano from the Waldorf Astoria's Saudi Arabian Suite has a reserve price of $1,665. Courtesy Kaminski Auctions
This Steinway and Sons baby grand piano from the opulent suite that the late Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz stayed in has a reserve price of $1,665. Courtesy Kaminski Auctions

“There are pieces from the suites frequented by world leaders, US presidents and celebrities. There are exquisite furnishings from the hotel’s notable restaurants and lounges. Needless to say, there’s something for everyone," said Frank Kaminksi, chief executive and owner of Kaminski Auctions.

Other notable items on the bidding list include a headboard from Marilyn Monroe's former residence, an Abstract Expressionist oil on canvas by American artist Mary Abbott and a Queen Anne cabinet from the suite that the recently deceased Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah stayed in.

Thousands of historic pieces from the Waldorf Astoria New York are going under the hammer, including items from the Presidential Suite, Marilyn Monroe's former home and the residence of Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. Courtesy Kamisinki Auctions
The Waldorf Astoria New York. Courtesy Kamisinki Auctions

Items from the Royal Suite, the Presidential Suite and the Winston Churchill Suite are also going under the hammer.

The auction will comply with all Massachusetts Covid-19 guidelines and all proceeds will go towards restoring the exteriors and gardens of St Bartholomew’s Church, which sits directly opposite the hotel.

Priceless pieces

Some items from the Walforf Astoria are deemed priceless, including the 1893 World’s Fair Clock that took centre stage in the hotel lobby. Flickr / Alan Light
Some items from the Walforf Astoria are deemed priceless, including the 1893 World’s Fair Clock, which took centre stage in the hotel lobby. Flickr / Alan Light

When it first opened in 1931, the Waldorf Astoria New York was the largest and tallest hotel in the world. While it's since been overtaken on both fronts many times over, it remains New York City’s largest privately owned landmark.

The auction is part of the hotel's ongoing massive restoration project: preservation of its original Art Deco features are a priority. The building is set to reopen in 2022 and developers have carefully catalogued items from the hotel for auction purposes as they go. That being said, not everything is up for sale.

Several pieces have instead been deemed historically priceless, and are now being preserved for display in the hotel when it reopens.

Among these are the Spirit of Achievement statue that graces the Park Avenue entrance, the 1893 World’s Fair Clock, which anchors the central lobby, acclaimed American composer Cole Porter’s 1907 Steinway grand piano and a John F Kennedy Rocking Chair.

Updated: October 5, 2020 05:47 PM

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