When objects that belonged to a famous owner come to the auction block, the prices realized often rise far above fair market value, due to an added premium attached to the so-called Glamour Market. Perhaps the most extreme example of this was the 1996 auction of Jacqueline Kennedy’s favorite faux pearl necklace, in which the first Lady was so frequently photographed, often with a necklace-tugging infant JFK, Jr. in her arms. The enduring images, the historic role of the first lady, and the aura of “Camelot” pushed the necklace from its $500-$700 estimate to a final price of $211,500 – a huge figure for a piece of costume jewelry.
Glamour exists on many planes, and even more private figures can exert a great impact on the value of their collections when it is time to sell. In February 2017, many of the home furnishing of Chadds Ford personality George “Frolic” Weymouth came to Freeman’s auction block.
Founder and chairman of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art, a noted artist and cultural leader, Frolic Weymouth threw himself into life and charitable causes with a rare passion and determined grace. A scion of the DuPont family, Weymouth had deep family roots in, and an abiding love of the Brandywine River Valley, whose natural beauty and artistic legacy he championed. Over his lifetime at his 18th-century Chadds Ford estate, known as “Big Bend,” Frolic entertained scores of friends and family, from Andrew Wyeth to Martha Stewart to Luciano Pavarotti.
Inspiring new bidders from Maine to California, busy telephone banks and internet buyers, Frolic’s subtle celebrity drove Freeman’s Estates at 1808 auction. His collecting passion was turtle decorations, and perhaps the finest example of his glamour impact was seen with the first of the day. A humble contemporary hooked rug depicting a turtle, the first thing one saw upon entering the front door of Big Bend, far surpassed its estimate of $100-$200 and sold for $1,625.
Now cherished in new homes, the mementos of Frolic Weymouth, like his greater cultural legacy, will live on.
Images: From The Estate of George A. "Frolic" Weymouth, Chadds Ford, PA - Contemporary hooked rug of a turtle. Estimated at $100-200, sold for $1,625; Maple tall chest, New England, circa 1760. Estimated at $800-1,200, sold for 2,500.