It appears that movie stars are selling all their personal belongings at fancy auctions. Barbra Streisand just had a garage sale at Christie's and unloaded everything from three pairs of sunglasses for $5,500 to an everyday doormat with dust balls and dog hair for $380.
Barbra wound up with a $900,000 profit, and everyone in Hollywood is taking notice. Agents would rather book their clients at Sotheby's or Christie's than close a deal for a film at Paramount or 20th Century Fox.
I attended an auction the other day for the possessions of movie star Rock Hunter. The auctioneer started it off simply. "Our first item is a toothpick used by Rock Hunter while having lunch with Marlon Brando. It is in sterling condition and was used only once, after Rock finished his corn on the cob."
The pick went for $6,800, much higher than anyone thought it would.
"Here is a rare item," the auctioneer said. "Rock Hunter's shoeshine kit. It contains brushes that were used to shine his shoes when he attended an Academy Awards dinner in 1984."
The bidding started at $3,000, and the final offer was $15,000, phoned in from Tokyo by a Japanese textile magnate.
Two auction attendants brought out a rubber automobile tire. "This tire once floated on Rock's swimming pool. It was used by Joan Crawford, Ava Gardner, Greta Garbo and Orson Welles. Rock told us he had more fun in this rubber tire than he did at Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion. Am I bid $10,000 for this rare and beautiful item?"
The bidding went up to $60,000, and a collector who till then had purchased only souvenirs from the Titanic bought the tire.
One of the big-ticket items was a VHS tape cleaner. People at the auction said they would wait all night for a chance to bid on it. The final contestants were a Saudi Arabian prince and Bill Gates. The prince won when he bid $98,000.
Rock Hunter did not show up for the auction, as he was too embarrassed to be there when they sold his possessions.
He told reporters who interviewed him at home that his favorite things were a hairbrush, a dog leash given to him by Barbra Streisand, the World Almanac for 1967 and an unsigned photograph of Warren Beatty.
The reporter asked Rock why he was selling all the items. He replied, "They've been a part of me for so long I felt it was time to share myself with my fans."
Then he broke up and began to cry as he did in his latest movie, "Going, Going, Gone."