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Auction gives glimpse into life of Studio 54

  • January 19, 2013 - 6:44 PM

A trove of memorabilia from Studio 54 went up for bid in an auction that is resurrecting those long-ago nights at the iconic 1970s clubhouse with a legacy greater than its lifespan. Mementos kept by the late Studio 54 co-owner Steve Rubell, including paparazzi photographs, letters and artwork once belonging to the New York club's A-list guests, were auctioned off Saturday. The items give a glimpse of life at 54: author Fran Lebowitz shoulder-to-shoulder with pop artist Andy Warhol. A stone-faced Frank Sinatra staring off in the distance. Diana Ross, arms flailing on the dance floor. Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Cher -- and on and on and on.

There's a handful of one-of-a-kind Polaroids shot by Warhol, making them the most valuable of the bunch. Also being sold are drink tickets, posters and even Rubell's personal address book. And, perhaps most interestingly, the front-door reservation book, which held Rubell's jotted notes on each night's guest list.

Rubell's partner, Bill Hamilton, finally decided to part with the treasures, more than 23 years after Rubell's death. Rubell and Ian Shrager opened Studio 54 in 1977 and sold it in 1981, after they "got out of camp," as they called prison, where they served time for income-tax evasion. It continued operating under different management for years afterward. The club's memories are captured in hand-scrawled notes from its guests, such as one from Farrah Fawcett to Rubell that says "Dearest Steve, Thank you for a fabulous weekend. You made it work!"

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