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Sondheim auction raises $1.5 million

Selection of items available in the Sondheim auction

PRESS RELEASE: Auction of the Collection of Stephen Sondheim on June 18, 2024 Soars Beyond Expectations!

NEW YORK, NY -- Doyle's landmark auction of the Collection of Stephen Sondheim on June 18, 2024 drew a worldwide audience of fans and collectors who sent prices soaring throughout the sale, and all 454 lots offered were sold. Enthusiastic bidders competing in the crowded saleroom, via the telephones, and on the Internet vied for memorabilia, furnishings, antique puzzles and more from Mr. Sondheim’s Manhattan townhouse and his country home in Roxbury, Connecticut.

Gold Records for West Side Story

Highlighting the memorabilia in the sale were Stephen Sondheim’s two Gold Records for his work as lyricist on West Side Story. Determined bidders drove his Gold Record for the soundtrack of the 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story to an exceptional $44,800. His Gold Record for the 1957 original Broadway cast recording realized a strong $28,800.

Sondheim’s Collection of Thesauruses

Two lots of thesauruses drew loud gasps from the audience as the first lot of four volumes soared in a few bids to a staggering $25,600. The second lot of thesauruses, dictionaries and crossword books drew equal gasps when it sold for $25,600 to the opening bid.

Manuscript Musical Quotations

Three manuscript musical quotations signed by Sondheim far surpassed their estimates. A quotation from Into the Woods with the poignant lyric, "Careful the things you say, Children will listen..." sold for $25,600. Another with the lyric, "Into the woods, it's time to go/I hate to leave, I have to, though...” realized $16,640. From Passion, a quotation with the touching lyric "Loving you is not a choice, it's who I am..." fetched $14,080.

Stationery & Pencils

A stack of Stephen Sondheim's personalized Crane’s stationery together with a signed spiral notebook sold for a startling $15,360. Drawing gasps of disbelief from the audience was a lot of three boxes of Sondheim’s beloved Blackwing pencils, circa 1940s-50s, that sold for a staggering $6,400. In a 2005 interview, Sondheim stated, “I use Blackwing pencils. Blackwings. They don’t make ’em anymore, and luckily, I bought a lot of boxes of ’em. They’re very soft lead. They’re not round, so they don’t fall off the table, and they have removable erasers, which unfortunately dry out."


We were amused to see that two gifts commissioned by the Society for Steve's 85th birthday had made it into the auction. A framed crossword puzzle, which had an upper estimate of $250, sold for an impressive $4,160! And the cariacture of Steve drawn by Clive Francis - commissioned for the Hey, Old Friends! birthday gala at Drury Lane in 2015 - sold as part of a pair (alongside a cartoon of Steve and Elaine Stritch) for $6,080! Society members who bought one of these limited-edition numbered prints as part of the fundraising for that concert might want to dust off their artwork...

Screengrab of the auction page showing the crossword commissioned by the Society for Steve's 85th birthday

Clive Francis' caricature of Steve, commissioned by the Society to raise funds for the Hey, Old Friends! birthday gala in 2015


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