‘Audrey Hepburn remains one of the world’s great screen legends,’ says Adrian Hume-Sayer, Christie’s Director of Private Collections, who was Head of Sale for the September 2017 auction of Hepburn’s personal collection of film memorabilia, clothes and treasured possessions.
Prior to the sale, more than 12,000 visitors came to Christie’s London galleries to view almost 500 lots that painted an intimate portrait of the late actress’s life.
For Hume-Sayer, the star of the auction was Hepburn’s annotated script for Breakfast at Tiffany's — released in December 1961, and to many Hepburn’s most memorable film. ‘The role of Holly Golightly was a daring choice for the young actress as she transitioned from earlier, safer roles,’ Hume-Sayer explains. ‘This script is the embodiment of that career-defining move.
‘It included scenes cut from the film and was covered in Hepburn’s notes, often in her signature turquoise ink,’ the specialist continues. ‘Looking through it, you could really see her preparing for the role, crossing out excessively racy lines and highlighting words for emphasis. All of this translated directly to what we see on screen.’
Two main bidders battled it out from the saleroom floor before the script finally sold for £632,750 (with buyer’s premium) — more than 10 times its low estimate, and a new world record for any screenplay sold at auction. (The previous record was set by Christie’s in 2005 when Marlon Brando’s The Godfather script sold for £176,000.)
Every lot in the sale was sold, with the auction realising a total of £4,635,500 / $6,202,299, more than seven times its estimate. ‘The gavel came down on the final lot just shy of midnight, drawing to a close a truly memorable sale,’ recalls Hume–Sayer. Including the online-only sale, which brought the number of countries with bidders to 50, the collection realised an overall total of £6,053,875 / $8,100,085.
Soon afterwards it was revealed that the winning bidder was the New York jeweller Tiffany & Co., which had purchased the historic document for its archive.