‘One of my mother’s dreams,’ smiles Melissa Rivers, ‘was to be left alone in a Christie’s warehouse with a satchel and nobody supervising her.’ As the only child of celebrated comedian, writer and television host Joan Rivers, Melissa admits she had ‘very, very difficult decisions to make’ when it came to parting with pieces that hold so many cherished memories.
‘There is not one piece in this collection that I would not take back,’ she explains. ‘But I know in her heart, and in my heart, that I’m doing the right thing because my mother maintained that things were meant to be used and loved, and they should go to places where they’re going to be used and loved.’ The Private Collection of Joan Rivers live sale takes place at Christie’s New York on 22 June, while the online auction runs 16-23 June.
‘[My mother] collected three main things: art, jewellery and Fabergé,’ Melissa recalls as she looks through some of the pieces in the sale, including a diamond and platinum flower brooch by Harry Winston Winston and a jewelled and gold-mounted nephrite study of a lily of the valley leaf by Fabergé. ‘She always loved the provenance and the stories behind different pieces… She loved the romance.’
The co-host of Fashion Police goes on to recall how Joan Rivers loved to entertain in her lavish Upper East Side apartment: ‘It was one of those things that gave her great enjoyment,’ she confirms. ‘She was not a minimalist by any stretch when it came to setting a table. She believed more is more, and more is better. My mother used to say her apartment was how Marie Aintoinette would have lived if she had money and taste.’
The offerings from Joan Rivers’ collection offer fascinating insights into her personality — the exuberant energy of the public figure, and the refined connoisseur. Some of the proceeds of the sales will be donated to charity.