Fast Cars and Nude Girls

What changes hands when Washington estates hit the auction block.

By: Alyssa Rosenberg, Sarah Zlotnick

It’s a fact of life: Rich people have a lot of stuff—but not necessarily a lot of space to put it. When space runs out or—heaven forbid—money gets tight, they follow the same logic the rest of us do: sell it off. When it comes to the “stuff” of the upper classes, auctions—such as the Sloans & Kenyon event that occurred last weekend in Chevy Chase—are the places these high-profile goods are (re)delivered to market.

In case you missed out, the estates of Abe Pollin, former owner of the Washington Mystics and Capitals; Sherry Geyelin, storyteller, interior designer, and widow of Washington Post editorial-page editor Philip Geyelin; and astrologer Sydney Omarr, seer to the rich and famous—including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt—and frequent Johnny Carson guest, went on the block for three days of bidding.

The offerings were impressive. Two Rolls-Royces—a 1958 Silver Cloud and a 1982 Silver Spirit—were up for sale to benefit the Douglas Rice Doudt for Hope Foundation, which aids terminally ill patients and their families. Among the items to bid on were a bevy of European and American paintings, Louis XVI airmores and chairs, and a Harriet Whitney Frishmuth sculpture. A William Joseph Williams portrait of George Washington was valued between $200,000 and $300,000. And though part of the picture was blocked out “to preserve the value of this never-published image for the successful bidder,” it wasn’t hard to notice the charms of a nude shot of a young Marilyn Monroe, auctioned off with a larger collection.