An important pair of Kangxi chargers led Cowan’s Asian Art auction, selling for $274,500. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

Important Kangxi chargers soar to $274,500 at Cowan’s

An important pair of Kangxi chargers led Cowan’s Asian Art auction, selling for $274,500. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

An important pair of Kangxi chargers led Cowan’s Asian Art auction, selling for $274,500. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

CINCINNATI – Cowan’s Auctions Asian Art Auction on July 27 realized $1.28 million. More than 400 people from over 16 different countries bid competitively on the telephone, online and in Cowan’s salesroom for the 430 lots.

“I was especially pleased with the energetic response to the auction from our Chinese collectors,” said Graydon Sikes, director, Asian art at Cowan’s. “We had several important collections in the sale and the results were exceptional. We will continue to vet material aggressively and maintain this high standard.”

The highest-selling lot in the auction was a pair of important Kangxi chargers, which realized $274,500. A pair of these chargers is listed in the illustrated catalog of the Tokyo National Museum, titled Chinese Ceramics, Volume 2, 1990.

The second-highest-selling lot was a Ming period bronze Guanyin, which exceeded its estimate of $5,000-$6,000 and hammered down at $72,000.

A northern Chi-style Buddha hammered down at $51,000. This Buddha, possibly fourth century, is carved seated with jeweled regalia and flanked by two attendants.

Libation cups performed well in the sale. A 17th century rhinoceros horn libation cup sold for $48,000, and a Chinese Yuan period/Ming period libation cup realized $26,400.

Jadeite items also did particularly well in the auction. A jadeite lidded vase sold for $55,200. A Chinese jade bracelet and pendant realized $26,400. A Chinese jadeite snuff bottle realized $12,000, and an archaistic jadeite vase realized $4,200.

Chinese export silver made a strong showing in the sale. A Chinese export silver presentation bowl with dragons sold for $10,800. Two Chinese export silver teapots sold for $4,200 and $3,900.

Additional noteworthy lots in the sale were a bamboo brush pot, which realized $36,000, and an important collection of Chinese incense clocks, which realized $20,400. An 18th century ivory brush pot realized $18,000, and a Kangxi beehive water pot also hammered down at $18,000.

Cowan’s will continue to seek important consignments for its January sale of Asian Art.

View the fully illustrated catalog for the July 27 auction, complete with prices realized, at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

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Click here to view the fully illustrated catalog for this sale, complete with prices realized.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


An important pair of Kangxi chargers led Cowan’s Asian Art auction, selling for $274,500. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

An important pair of Kangxi chargers led Cowan’s Asian Art auction, selling for $274,500. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

Ming period bronze Guanyin, estimated at $5,000-$6,000, sold for $72,000. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

 

Ming period bronze Guanyin, estimated at $5,000-$6,000, sold for $72,000. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

Northern Chi-style Buddha, possibly fourth century, hammered down at $51,000. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

Northern Chi-style Buddha, possibly fourth century, hammered down at $51,000. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

Rhinoceros horn libation cup, probably 17th century, realized $48,000. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

Rhinoceros horn libation cup, probably 17th century, realized $48,000. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

Jadeite lidded vase realized $55,200. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

Jadeite lidded vase realized $55,200. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

Kangxi beehive water pot realized $18,000. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

Kangxi beehive water pot realized $18,000. Cowan’s Auctions Inc. image.

Gallery Report: August 2012

Three mid-20th century ceramic pitchers by the artist Pablo Picasso, titled Cheval et Cavalier, Visage and Femme, with the undersides stamped “Madoura” and “Edition Picasso,” sold for $18,885 at an auction held July 14-15 by Crescent City Auction Gallery in New Orleans. Also, a collection of Elizabeth Locke 18-karat gold jewelry hammered for $20,114; a bronze lotus Buddha on a relief base with a foo dragon, circa 1900, fetched $18,960; and an early 20th century KPM porcelain plaque, titled Ruth, brought $2,070. Prices include an 18.5 percent buyer’s premium.

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Interior view of Roberts Stadium, Evansville, Indiana. Image courtesy of William Wilson Auction Realty, Inc.

Saturday auction to sell off Roberts Stadium items

Interior view of Roberts Stadium, Evansville, Indiana. Image courtesy of William Wilson Auction Realty, Inc.

Interior view of Roberts Stadium, Evansville, Indiana. Image courtesy of William Wilson Auction Realty, Inc.

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — It’s pretty quiet within the walls of Roberts Stadium these days. The cheering there stopped long ago.

It’s something of a strange place to come to work for 32-year-old Andrew Wilson of William Wilson Auction & Realty, Inc., the Evansville firm charged with liquidating the historic venue’s assets.

“It’s pretty humbling, especially when you’re the first one in the building in the morning,” Wilson says. “I wouldn’t call it ‘creepy,’ but it’s definitely quiet.”

For several weeks now, Wilson, along with his 28-year-old brother Aaron, has made daily trips into Roberts, where the air-conditioning is off. They’ve dutifully spent their time organizing and cataloging assets — some big, some small — in preparation for Saturday’s auction.

The event, which will commence at 10 a.m., will be preceded by two public preview sessions — 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday.

Eventual demolition notwithstanding, Saturday’s auction will, once and for all, bring down the curtain on a building that has been a part of the Evansville landscape since 1956.

It’s a place that has hosted presidents and presidential candidates, witnessed storied moments in small-college basketball history, and on two occasions (1972 and 1976), was even fit for a king. Indeed, none other than Elvis Presley filled the fabled hall, as did subsequent performers such as Garth Brooks and Elton John.

And in December 1977, it’s where a community gathered to mourn an unspeakable tragedy — the deaths of 14 members of the University of Evansville Purple Aces basketball team and their coaches in a plane crash at Evansville Regional Airport.

Most of what’s left behind at Roberts Stadium now doesn’t bear any kind of direct link to what transpired within its walls; nor does it offer a connection to the iconic leaders, athletes and performers who appeared there. Bidders hoping to find Jerry Sloan’s locker or a couch that Elvis once relaxed on are out of luck.

For the Wilsons, organizing the venerable facility’s assets was a laborious undertaking, but in many ways it was no different from a typical estate sale.

“The principles are the same,” Wilson says. “We have these assets, and we have to identify what they are, identify the market for them and then sell them. No matter what the size of the asset is or the value, usually the same procedures apply.”

As a general rule, if it’s not nailed down (and even if it is, in some cases), it’ll be sold to the highest bidder. That includes everything from the vintage 1950s sinks found in several of the original bathrooms to some 20 turnstiles to a pair of portable stages, upon which the likes of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama once stood.

For those who are longtime University of Evansville basketball fans, or just generally sentimental about Roberts, the auction will provide a final chance — with the possible exception of acquiring a post-demolition brick — to own a piece of the past.

Collectors won’t have the opportunity to purchase an individual stadium seat, but there will be a total of 13 lots of seats up for bid. Those seats will be offered in sets of two, three and four, and they’ll come mounted on concrete risers.

Of Roberts Stadium’s 11,000-plus Hussey chair backs, 5,500 are bound for Mesker Amphitheatre; 5,600, meanwhile, will be sold as a single lot. Five units of rollout seats, custom designed for the facility, will be sold separately from the 5,600-chair back lot.

The interlocking parquet basketball court will also go. The portable maple hardwood floor, manufactured in 1994, has been sanded twice in the ensuing years and is adorned with the Aces logo. It’s being sold as a single lot.

Then there’s the Roberts Stadium scoreboard. It’s a four-sided, 6,000-pound Fair Play model — hardly 21st century, but still very functional.

“It’s nearing obsolescence,” Wilson says. “It’s only three colors, for instance. But it is LED, and it does have the specific hoist for it. So it’s for a buyer that has the space and the need for it.”

Wilson isn’t in the business of predicting how much money an item like the scoreboard could bring. In theory, if only a single buyer were interested, and if that buyer were willing to pay no more than a dollar, the Roberts Stadium scoreboard could, in fact, be bought for a buck.

But, like most things in life, buying a massive item at auction isn’t quite that simple. Once a bidder wins something, it’s immediately his, and the buyer has an obligation to arrange transport of their bounty.

“The important thing to keep in mind is that to get the scoreboard out of here, it’s going to require some pretty sophisticated industrial rigging and removal,” Wilson explains. “Just to move it will probably cost you $5,000 to $10,000 easily. So you’ve got to add that into the purchase price.

“It’s important that people realize that,” he continues. “Yes, there may be some (final sale) values that seem like they aren’t what they should be, but there is a lot of extraction and removal and rigging that has to occur to get some things out of here.”

So who, exactly, might want to purchase a single lot of 5,600 stadium seats? Or, for that matter, who would happen to be in the market for a 6,000-pound scoreboard?

The answer, in short, is an industrial buyer — a highly specialized buyer who has a very specific and unique knowledge of the market for things like, well, a lot of 5,600 stadium seats or a 6,000-pound scoreboard.

“They’re professional buyers,” Wilson explains. “They have professional resources, and because of that they can buy these assets and know the market well enough to have a plan for what they can pay for it, what it will cost to move it, and then know who the potential buyers are.”

With that in mind, many of the stadium’s largest assets — the Bryan flexible tube boilers or the Trane Centravac centrifugal chiller and Marley cooling tower, to name two examples — likely won’t be snatched up by individuals.

But that doesn’t mean casual buyers are left out in the proverbial cold. There are still plenty of possibilities.

“That’s what we want to be sure to convey, is that there are real items out here that people can use, in their homes, in their businesses — especially for small-business owners,” Wilson says.

Many of those smaller items, while not necessarily collectibles or unique to Roberts Stadium, have ample utility value. They include things such as desks, tables, televisions, trash cans, filing cabinets, telephone systems, photocopiers and bar stools.

And a restaurant, church group, school or civic organization, meanwhile, might be able to make use of things like stoves, ovens, ice machines, walk-in coolers, even the popcorn poppers. They’ll all be up for bid.

“This is an absolute auction with no restrictions,” Wilson explains. “Everything will sell regardless of price. These are all assets that have to be sold, and that’s what we’ll bring to the table — to establish a market value for those items on that given day.”

While Wilson is aware that letting go of Roberts Stadium is hard for many people, he won’t be getting sentimental about the task at hand.

“It’s what we do, and we take it very seriously,” he says. “There’s always a human side to it, but at the same time it’s something that we look at from a completely different perspective. As part of our marketing, we obviously can bring in that emotional side. An auction can be very emotional. But from our standpoint, it’s all business.”

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Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

Petition drive against Kansas park sculpture continues

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) – The group looking to have a sculpture of a partially clad woman removed from a suburban Kansas City park said Monday it has collected about 80 percent of the signatures required to empanel a grand jury to investigate whether the sculpture violates state laws.

The sculpture, “Accept or Reject” by Yu Chang, is among 11 artworks donated to the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens by a group of Chinese artists. The life-size bronze, on display at the arboretum since November 2011, depicts a woman wearing an opened blouse, her breasts exposed, taking a photograph of herself.

Phillip Cosby — Missouri and Kansas director of the American Family Association, based in Tupelo, Miss. — says the sculpture is obscene and should be removed from the city-owned park, which is frequented by young children. Cosby is seeking 4,500 signatures required to empanel a grand jury, which would then investigate a charge of promoting obscenity to a minor.

He said on Monday that he has about 3,500 signatures and hopes to have the rest together by Aug. 7.

“People are responding, and we’re going to get there,” Cosby said.

Cosby said he expects to file the petition Sept. 1 with the Johnson County court, which would call the 15-member grand jury. Kansas is one of about six states that allow citizens to petition for grand juries. Most other grand juries are called by a judge or prosecutor.

Overland Park said the city had no plans to remove or relocate the sculpture from the city-owned park but has posted two signs near the sculpture site telling visitors that “some pieces include a display of the human body.”

Cosby has coordinated eight grand jury petitions against pornography in Kansas in the last nine years and has been successful six times. Those cases involved adult pornography at shops in Kansas.

Click to view the Kansas City Star’s previous coverage of the issue, as well as a photo of the statue in question.

http://joco913.com/news/overland-park-refuses-to-remove-statue-petition-drive-launched/

 

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Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

‘Les Baigneurs (the Bathers),’ Niki de Saint Phalle; New York City. Photo by Kelsey Savage.

Reading the Streets: Niki de Saint Phalle on Park Avenue

‘Les Baigneurs (the Bathers),’ Niki de Saint Phalle; New York City. Photo by Kelsey Savage.

‘Les Baigneurs (the Bathers),’ Niki de Saint Phalle; New York City. Photo by Kelsey Savage.

NEW YORK – Marking the 10-year anniversary of Niki de Saint Phalle’s death, an installation of her curvy, joyful women dance along Park Avenue. The sculptures, created out of polyester resin, some with mosaics of ceramic and glass, memorialize the achievement of the French artist whose work incorporates a joie de vivre as big as a New York summer. The vibrant women meld perfectly with all the color surrounding them on the iconic avenue—vibrant sundresses, the perfect summer blue sky, men’s rainbow ties.

Les Baigneurs starts the exhibition, which runs down from 60th Street and encompasses nine pieces including works from her tribute to jazz musicians, such as Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis, and her Grand Step Totem.

Saint Phalle created her memorable women or nanas in the ’80s when she solidified her international reputation as a sculptor. Some of her more famous works include the installations in the Tarot Garden in Tuscany, Italy and hon, a giant nana in Sweden.

The New York exhibit appears on behalf of the Nohra Haime Gallery in collaboration with the Parks Department and will be running through November.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


‘Les Baigneurs (the Bathers),’ Niki de Saint Phalle; New York City. Photo by Kelsey Savage.

‘Les Baigneurs (the Bathers),’ Niki de Saint Phalle; New York City. Photo by Kelsey Savage.

‘Les Baigneurs (the Bathers),’ Niki de Saint Phalle; New York City. Photo by Kelsey Savage.

‘Les Baigneurs (the Bathers),’ Niki de Saint Phalle; New York City. Photo by Kelsey Savage.

Omni Hotel in Dallas, as viewed from Dallas City Hall. Photo by Richard Murphy, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Hotel rooms a new source for buying art

Omni Hotel in Dallas, as viewed from Dallas City Hall. Photo by Richard Murphy, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Omni Hotel in Dallas, as viewed from Dallas City Hall. Photo by Richard Murphy, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

DALLAS (AP) – Hotel rooms are no longer just a place to shower, sleep or maybe indulge in a breakfast in bed. They’re now also spots to pick up souvenirs other than stolen towels.

For several years, hotels have invited local artists in to decorate hallways, lobbies and other public spaces. Now, they are taking that partnership one step further and turning bedrooms into mini-salesrooms.

The recently-opened Omni Dallas hotel features more than 6,500 original pieces of art from 150 local artists in guest rooms and public spaces. The art is one of the reasons the property doesn’t feel like every other hotel stayed in on past vacations. It also gives guests the option of taking a bit of Texas culture home with them.

Baltimore-area resident Sherry Quinn recently bought a painting, “Orange Moon over Lemmon Avenue,” while attending a security-related convention at the Dallas Omni. When Quinn spoke to the hotel gift shop staff she learned that the artist, Kelly Megert, actually worked there part-time. The next morning, she met Megert and spent $350 on the painting.

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Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott.

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Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Omni Hotel in Dallas, as viewed from Dallas City Hall. Photo by Richard Murphy, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Omni Hotel in Dallas, as viewed from Dallas City Hall. Photo by Richard Murphy, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Omni Hotel in Dallas has also taken a creative approach toward merchandise offered in their upscale gift shop Morcels and Collections. Shown here are luxury fashion bicycles by Villy Customs. Photo by Adelaidasofia, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Omni Hotel in Dallas has also taken a creative approach toward merchandise offered in their upscale gift shop Morcels and Collections. Shown here are luxury fashion bicycles by Villy Customs. Photo by Adelaidasofia, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Furnishings from Eiffel Tower eateries will be sold at auction in September. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Eiffel Tower restaurant furnishings to be sold at auction

 Furnishings from Eiffel Tower eateries will be sold at auction in September. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Furnishings from Eiffel Tower eateries will be sold at auction in September. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

PARIS (AFP) – Fancy a piece of the Eiffel Tower for the dining room? Furniture once used in the Paris landmark’s high-end eatery the Jules Verne will go under the hammer in September, auctioneers said on Wednesday.

The Jules Verne’s modernist black-and-white decor hosted fine diners from around the world on the second floor of the landmark tourist site from 1983 to 2007, when the restaurant was taken over by top chef Alain Ducasse.

The sale on Sept. 27 at Paris’s Drouot-Montmartre auction house will feature black-and-white porcelain crockery, wheeled steel-frame chairs and a black lacquered grand piano among its dozens of lots.

Design buffs will also have a chance to bid for the complete former furnishings of the Eiffel Tower’s brasserie, Altitude 95, named for its height above sea level.

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Gore Vidal at the Union Square (San Francisco) Barnes & Noble to be interviewed by Leonard Lopate to discuss his life and photographic memoir ' Gore Vidal: Snapshots in History's Glare. Photo by David Shankbone, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

In Memoriam: Author, playwright Gore Vidal, 86

Gore Vidal at the Union Square (San Francisco) Barnes & Noble to be interviewed by Leonard Lopate to discuss his life and photographic memoir ' Gore Vidal: Snapshots in History's Glare. Photo by David Shankbone, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Gore Vidal at the Union Square (San Francisco) Barnes & Noble to be interviewed by Leonard Lopate to discuss his life and photographic memoir ‘ Gore Vidal: Snapshots in History’s Glare. Photo by David Shankbone, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

LOS ANGELES – Gore Vidal, the author, playwright, politician and commentator whose novels, essays, plays and opinions were stamped by his immodest wit and unconventional wisdom, died Tuesday, his nephew said.

Vidal died at his home in the Hollywood Hills at about 6:45 p.m. of complications from pneumonia, Burr Steers said. Vidal had been living alone in the home and had been sick for “quite a while,” he said.

Along with such contemporaries as Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, Vidal was among the last generation of literary writers who were also genuine celebrities — fixtures on talk shows and in gossip columns, personalities of such size and appeal that even those who hadn’t read their books knew who they were.

His works included hundreds of essays; the best-selling novels Lincoln and Myra Breckinridge, the groundbreaking The City and the Pillar, among the first novels about openly gay characters; and the Tony-nominated play The Best Man, revived on Broadway in 2012.

Tall and distinguished looking, with a haughty baritone not unlike that of his conservative arch-enemy William F. Buckley, Vidal appeared cold and cynical on the surface. But he bore a melancholy regard for lost worlds, for the primacy of the written word, for “the ancient American sense that whatever is wrong with human society can be put right by human action.”

Vidal was uncomfortable with the literary and political establishment, and the feeling was mutual. Beyond an honorary National Book Award in 2009, he won few major writing prizes, lost both times he ran for office and initially declined membership into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, joking that he already belonged to the Diners Club. (He was eventually admitted, in 1999).

But he was widely admired as an independent thinker — in the tradition of Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken — about literature, culture, politics and, as he liked to call it, “the birds and the bees.” He picked apart politicians, living and dead; mocked religion and prudery; opposed wars from Vietnam to Iraq and insulted his peers like no other, once observing that the three saddest words in the English language were “Joyce Carol Oates.” (The happiest words: “I told you so”).

The author “meant everything to me when I was learning how to write and learning how to read,” Dave Eggers said at the 2009 National Book Awards ceremony, when he and Vidal received honorary citations. “His words, his intellect, his activism, his ability and willingness to always speak up and hold his government accountable, especially, has been so inspiring to me I can’t articulate it.” Ralph Ellison labeled him a “campy patrician.”

Vidal had an old-fashioned belief in honor, but a modern will to live as he pleased. He wrote in the memoir Palimpsest that he had more than 1,000 “sexual encounters,” nothing special, he added, compared to the pursuits of such peers as John F. Kennedy and Tennessee Williams.

Vidal was fond of drink and alleged that he had sampled every major drug, once. He never married and for decades shared a scenic villa in Ravello, Italy, with companion Howard Austen.

Vidal would say that his decision to live abroad damaged his literary reputation in the United States. In print and in person, he was a shameless name dropper, but what names: John and Jacqueline Kennedy. Hillary Clinton. Tennessee Williams. Mick Jagger. Orson Welles. Frank Sinatra. Marlon Brando. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.

Vidal dined with Welles in Los Angeles, lunched with the Kennedys in Florida, clowned with the Newmans in Connecticut, drove wildly around Rome with a nearsighted Williams and escorted Jagger on a sightseeing tour along the Italian coast. He campaigned with Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry Truman. He butted heads, literally, with Mailer. He helped director William Wyler with the script for Ben-Hur. He made guest appearances on everything from The Simpsons to Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.

Vidal formed his most unusual bond with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. The two exchanged letters after Vidal’s 1998 article in Vanity Fair on “the shredding” of the Bill of Rights and their friendship inspired Edmund White’s play Terre Haute.

“He’s very intelligent. He’s not insane,” Vidal said of McVeigh in a 2001 interview.

Vidal also bewildered his fans by saying the Bush administration likely had advance knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; that McVeigh was no more a killer than Dwight Eisenhower and that the U.S. would eventually be subservient to China, “The Yellow Man’s Burden.”

Christopher Hitchens, who once regarded Vidal as a modern Oscar Wilde, lamented in a 2010 Vanity Fair essay that Vidal’s recent comments suffered from an “utter want of any grace or generosity, as well as the entire absence of any wit or profundity.” Years earlier, Saul Bellow stated that “a dune of salt has grown up to season the preposterous things Gore says.”

A longtime critic of American militarism, Vidal was, ironically, born at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., his father’s alma mater. Vidal grew up in a political family. His grandfather, Thomas Pryor Gore, was a U.S. senator from Oklahoma. His father, Gene Vidal, served briefly in President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration and was an early expert on aviation. Amelia Earhart was a family friend and reported lover of Gene Vidal.

Vidal was a learned, but primarily self-educated man. Classrooms bored him. He graduated from the elite Phillips Exeter Academy, but then enlisted in the Army and never went to college. His first book, the war novel Williwaw, was written while he was in the service and published when he was just 20.

The New York Times‘ Orville Prescott praised Vidal as a “canny observer” and Williwaw as a “good start toward more substantial accomplishments.” But The City and the Pillar, his third book, apparently changed Prescott’s mind. Published in 1948, the novel’s straightforward story about two male lovers was virtually unheard of at the time, and Vidal claimed that Prescott swore he would never review his books again. (The critic relented in 1964, calling Vidal’s Julian a novel “disgusting enough to sicken many of his readers”). The City and the Pillar was dedicated to “J.T.,” Jimmie Trimble, a boarding school classmate killed during the war whom Vidal would cite as the great love of his life.

Unable to make a living from fiction, at least when identified as “Gore Vidal,” he wrote a trio of mystery novels in the 1950s under the pen name “Edgar Box” and also wrote fiction as “Katherine Everard” and “Cameron Kay.” He became a playwright, too, writing for the theater and television. The political drama The Best Man was later made into a movie, starring Henry Fonda, and was revived on Broadway in 2000 and again in 2012. Paul Newman starred in The Left-Handed Gun, a film adaptation of Vidal’s The Death of Billy the Kid.

Vidal also worked in Hollywood, writing the script for Suddenly Last Summer and adding a subtle homoerotic context to Ben-Hur. The author himself later appeared in a documentary about gays in Hollywood, The Celluloid Closet. His acting credits included Gattaca, With Honors and Tim Robbins’ political satire Bob Roberts.

Although happy to see and be seen, Vidal saw himself foremost as a man of letters. His 1974 essay on Italo Calvino in The New York Review of Books helped introduce the Italian writer to American audiences. A 1987 essay on Dawn Powell helped restore the then-forgotten author’s reputation and bring her books back in print. Fans welcomed his polished, conversational essays or his annual “State of the Union” reports for the liberal weekly The Nation.

He adored the wisdom of Montaigne, the imagination of Calvino, the erudition and insight of Henry James and Edith Wharton. He detested Thomas Pynchon, John Barth and other authors of “teachers’ novels.” He once likened Mailer’s views on women to those of Charles Manson’s. (From this the head-butting incident ensued, backstage at The Dick Cavett Show.) He derided Buckley, on television, as a “crypto Nazi.” He called The New York Times the “Typhoid Mary of American journalism,” labeled Ronald Reagan “The Acting President” and identified Reagan’s wife, Nancy, as a social climber “born with a silver ladder in her hand.”

In the 1960s, Vidal increased his involvement in politics. In 1960, he was the Democratic candidate for Congress in an upstate New York district, but was defeated despite Ms. Roosevelt’s active support and a campaign appearance by Truman. (In 1982, Vidal came in second in the California Democratic senatorial primary). In consolation, he noted that he did receive more votes in his district in 1960 than did the man at the top of the Democratic ticket, John F. Kennedy.

Thanks to his friendship with Jacqueline Kennedy, with whom he shared a stepfather, Hugh Auchincloss, he became a supporter and associate of President Kennedy, and wrote a newspaper profile on him soon after his election. With tragic foresight, Vidal called the job of the presidency “literally killing” and worried that “Kennedy may very well not survive.”

Before long, however, he and the Kennedys were estranged, touched off by a personal feud between Vidal and Robert Kennedy apparently sparked by a few too many drinks at a White House party. By 1967, the author was an open critic, portraying the Kennedys as cold and manipulative in the essay “The Holy Family.” Vidal’s politics moved ever to the left and he eventually disdained both major parties as “property” parties — even as he couldn’t help noting that Hillary Clinton had visited him in Ravello.

Meanwhile, he was again writing fiction. In 1968, he published his most inventive novel, Myra Breckinridge, a comic best-seller about a transsexual movie star. The year before, with Washington, D.C., Vidal began the cycle of historical works that peaked in 1984 with Lincoln.

The novel was not universally praised, with some scholars objecting to Vidal’s unawed portrayal of the president. The author defended his research, including suggestions that the president had syphilis, and called his critics “scholar-squirrels,” more interested in academic status than in serious history. But “Lincoln” stands as his most notable and sympathetic work of historical fiction, vetted and admired by a leading Lincoln biographer, David Herbert Donald, and even cited by the conservative Newt Gingrich as a favorite book. Gingrich’s praise was contrasted by fellow conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann, who alleged she was so put off by Vidal’s Burr that she switched party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.

In recent years, Vidal wrote the novel The Smithsonian Institution and the nonfiction best sellers Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace and Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta. A second memoir, Point to Point Navigation, came out in 2006. In 2009, Gore Vidal: Snapshots in History’s Glare featured pictures of Vidal with Newman, Jagger, Johnny Carson, Jack Nicholson and Bruce Springsteen.

Vidal and Austen chose cemetery plots in Washington, D.C., between Jimmie Trimble and one of Vidal’s literary heroes, Henry Adams. But age and illness did not bring Vidal closer to God. Using a wheelchair in his 80s and saddened by the death of Austen and many peers and close friends, the impious author still looked to no existence beyond this one.

“Because there is no cosmic point to the life that each of us perceives on this distant bit of dust at galaxy’s edge,” he once wrote, “all the more reason for us to maintain in proper balance what we have here. Because there is nothing else. No thing. This is it. And quite enough, all in all.”

Vidal is survived by his half-sister Nina Straight and half-brother Tommy Auchincloss.

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Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Gore Vidal at the Union Square (San Francisco) Barnes & Noble to be interviewed by Leonard Lopate to discuss his life and photographic memoir ' Gore Vidal: Snapshots in History's Glare. Photo by David Shankbone, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Gore Vidal at the Union Square (San Francisco) Barnes & Noble to be interviewed by Leonard Lopate to discuss his life and photographic memoir ‘ Gore Vidal: Snapshots in History’s Glare. Photo by David Shankbone, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Signed Steve McQueen publicity photo from the 1971 film 'Le Mans.' Sold for $3,690 inclusive of 23% buyer's premium. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Profiles in History.

McQueen’s ‘Le Mans’ wristwatch auctioned for nearly $800K

Signed Steve McQueen publicity photo from the 1971 film 'Le Mans.' Sold for $3,690 inclusive of 23% buyer's premium. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Profiles in History.

Signed Steve McQueen publicity photo from the 1971 film ‘Le Mans.’ Sold for $3,690 inclusive of 23% buyer’s premium. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Profiles in History.

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A watch worn by Steve McQueen in the film Le Mans sold for nearly $800,000 at an auction of film memorabilia.

The auction house Profiles in History said Tuesday the Heuer wrist watch sported by the actor in the 1971 action movie sold for $799,500. A signed U.S. passport belonging to McQueen fetched $46,125.

Other items that were sold included a miniature drop-ship used in Aliens for $225,000; Groucho Marx’s wire-rim glasses from A Night at the Opera for $86,100; and Vivien Leigh’s hat from Gone with the Wind for $67,650.

One bidder coughed up $98,400 for Marlon Brando’s assassination jacket from The Godfather. A personal copy of the 1971 film’s script signed by Brando went for $55,000. All prices quoted are inclusive of a 23% buyer’s premium.

The buyers were not identified.

LiveAuctioneers.com provided the Internet live bidding for the sale. Click to view the fully illustrated catalog, complete with prices realized.

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Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Signed Steve McQueen publicity photo from the 1971 film 'Le Mans.' Sold for $3,690 inclusive of 23% buyer's premium. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Profiles in History.

Signed Steve McQueen publicity photo from the 1971 film ‘Le Mans.’ Sold for $3,690 inclusive of 23% buyer’s premium. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Profiles in History.

Heuer Monaco wristwatch worn by Steve McQueen in his role as 'Michael Delaney' in the 1971 film 'Le Mans.' Sold for $799,500 inclusive of 23% buyer's premium. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Profiles in History.

Heuer Monaco wristwatch worn by Steve McQueen in his role as ‘Michael Delaney’ in the 1971 film ‘Le Mans.’ Sold for $799,500 inclusive of 23% buyer’s premium. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Profiles in History.

Steve McQueen's signed US passport used during the filming of 'Le Mans.' Issued on April 14, 1070 at the US Embassy in London. Sold for $46,125 inclusive of 23% buyer's premium. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Profiles in History.

Steve McQueen’s signed US passport used during the filming of ‘Le Mans.’ Issued on April 14, 1070 at the US Embassy in London. Sold for $46,125 inclusive of 23% buyer’s premium. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Profiles in History.