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Ray Milland Collection SoldAuthor: Katherine J. Baross
( Article orginally published May 1952 )
Hollywood Notables Among Auction BuyersTHE Millands have disposed of BelAir, their estate in the Beverly Hills region and are retiring to a smaller, more intimate menage. In planning for this move, the Millands retained only the star's gun collection, his library and some few cherished pieces. The balance of the furnishings, mostly antiques, were displayed at the Wi]shire Boulevard Gallery of Marvin H. Newman and there sold, in seven sessions which marked not only spirited bidding, but notably good prices, realized at the fall of the auctioneer's hammer.
While every session of the sale boasted its quota of good to excellent antique items, the following were highlights, considered not only from the standpoint of the items but also of the new owners: A rare 18th century ebony cabinet with 28 hand painted Meissen plaques with bronze dore banding, the interior displaying Meissen figural columns and tiled drawer fronts. Jack Deitz, motion picture producer captured this prize with a bid of $1,600; a cylindrical shaded French table lamp sold for $27; French Provencal furniture of Louis XV and XVI periods was favored over the Parisian or court styles of the same monarchs and sold for considerably higher prices. This is pointed by the prices realized by some of the ultra-deluxe pieces, as follows: Louis XVI cane back settee with conforming brocade cushions, $45; two matching bergeres, $35 each. The Provencal break front desk brought $425. A high-backed armchair brought $165. So much for the difference in value between the genuine "Style" Provencal, and the "Fashion" Parisian of the same era.
English miniatures on ivory brought good prices. These were a collection started when Ray Milland was a member of the King's Royal Guards Regiment. The cases which housed the collection under glass brought $85 each. A portrait of Lady Brougham, by Sir William Beechey, realized $200. A landscape by Gordon Coutts, R.A., brought $110.
A 9-piece dining suite in the Louis XV period style, of narrawood, sold for $1,250. A clavichord by Evendale & Sons, London, in rosewood case was bid up to $60 when the bidding stopped. Before the auctioneer could drop his hammer an attendant played a few passages on the instrument and bidding started again in $5 jumps, to $165. A Dresden large figurine group, made into a lamp, sold for $425. Another Dresden group sold for $300. A silver tea set, English, brought $300 and a centerpiece brought $45. Someone not so smart let this one go; it was worth more than the price as silver metal, for it was solid English plate.
A 91-piece Bavarian Dinner Service sold for $135, with matching cups and saucers bringing $4 each. Bargains, that's what they were, even if they now brighten another star's menage. Capo-di-Monte demi-tasse sold at $3 each. Minton plates sold at $3 each. A pair of Altwein covered urns with Beehive marks sold for $30. A toleware table that Ray Milland had brought back from England on an Atlantic air-cruiser sold for $25. Part of the watch collection was sold at bargain prices; $7.50 to $25 each for early Waltham, Nicoud, Girard and Secoudre examples.
A leather hat case, used as a wood box in the Milland home, sold for $67.50. A plume-grained breakfront desk sold for $125. Linens, table covers, mats and other textiles realized what might be called "the usual prices" unless two Hollywood personalities took a fancy to the same item. Then it was "May the best girl win." There seemed to be an aura of disappointment over some of the prices realized and intense surprise over the bidding up on other items. Since this collection was assembled at the "top of the market" during the early 1940's, it is most likely this sale is a demonstration, not of prices current on the Pacific region that is greater Los Angeles, but of the value appraised by buyers, as of the time and place, and also an indication of what is most wanted, least wanted, and not wanted, now.
Ray Milland - An extraordinary actor best known for his Academy Award Win for his brilliant performance in the 1945 classic, The Lost Weekend. This talented, handsome actor made over 100 films from the 1930s to the 1980s.