Christie's will be selling off some of the remaining treasures of Huguette Clark, the reclusive copper heiress who died in 2011 with a $300 million estate.
The expected auction total, from the sale on Wednesday, is just a fraction of that amount: more than $5 million. The big trophies in her estate, like her homes and her Monet painting, have already sold or are part of other sales, and are not part of that estimate.
But the real value of the "Clark Family Treasures" sale is cultural. The auction of her everyday totems—from flatware and letter openers to first-edition poetry books, candelabras and table bells—provides a window into the fading world of old money. Think of it as one of the final flea markets of the American blue blood and their rarefied rituals.
Like many pre-war heiresses, Clark busied herself with artistic endeavors aimed at making her cultured and cloistered. The crown jewel of the sale is a painting by John Singer Sargent, one of the American masters, called "Girl Fishing," which could sell for $3 million to $5 million.