Joan Rivers was many things: brash and brassy comedian, queen of QVC, petite mistress of great big gowns. Lesser known, perhaps, was her penchant for collecting — from Faberge objets d'art to fine French furniture. Her East 62nd Street penthouse in New York, a former ballroom, was filled with it and nearly two years after her death at 81, her daughter, Melissa Rivers, felt it was time to clean house.
With the help of Christie's New York, she made her way through rooms and rooms of memories, deciding what she couldn't emotionally part with, what she would hold onto for archival purposes and what she would donate to charity.
What is left is now the Private Collection of Joan Rivers, with more than 200 lots to be auctioned in a live sale at Christie's on Wednesday and about 80 more offered online at Christies.com through Thursday.
Melissa Rivers, in an interview, was not ready to use the word "cathartic." After all, she said, "It hasn't even been two years." Instead, she's in survivor mode, "taking care of business."
The auction house opened its doors for a preview. A couple of Joan's elegant sitting rooms were set up, her inlaid desk and chair near a favorite painting by Edouard Vuillard, titled "Dans l'atelier." It dates to about 1915 and is valued at $120,000 to $180,000.
Joan died on Sept. 14, 2014. Many of her zingers were printed on walls for visitors to enjoy as they ogled sale items, including this one that speaks volumes about the things she collected: "Marie Antoinette would have lived here if she had money."