Billy Wilder and his wife Audrey amassed a collection of furniture and fine and decorative art that rivaled his professional achievements, which included six Academy Awards and over 50 film credits on films such as Sunset Boulevard (1950), The Seven Year Itch (1955), Some like it Hot (1959), and The Apartment (1960).
The contents of the Wilder estate will be auctioned at Christie’s December 11-12 Interiors sale, and will benefit their namesake organization, the Billy & Audrey L. Wilder Foundation.
Portrait of the Wilders by Sylvia Shap (AMERICAN b. 1949)
The selection includes 151 lots that spans the couple’s collecting interests, including lithographs from Ellsworth Kelly, American silver, Chanel handbags, modern furniture and books, photographs and other assorted ephemera. The collection is expected to realize in excess of $244,300, with lot estimates beginning at just $300.
Growing up in Vienna, Wilder was influenced by the Wiener Werkstätte, the 20th-century design movement. While living in Berlin, he gained an increased exposure to artists such as Braque, Miró, and Dali, but his financial situation did not allow him to begin to seriously collect art until he arrived in the US, buying his first Picasso, a drawing, for $900 in 1940. When asked in an interview in the Paris Review for advice about collecting Wilder replied, “Sure, don’t collect. Buy what you like, hold onto it, enjoy it.”