Veronique and Gregory Peck collection commands $1.2M at Heritage
DALLAS — Gregory Peck’s personalized leather-bound To Kill a Mockingbird script sold February 23 for $84,375 as Heritage Auctions presented a sale titled Property from The Estate of Veronique and Gregory Peck. As expected, the gilt-stamped, photo-filled, Horton Foote-penned adaptation of Harper Lee’s beloved novel was among the most sought-after and fought-over lots in an event that paid tribute to the careers and philanthropy of the Academy Award-winning actor and his philanthropist wife of nearly 50 years. Another highlight was a 35th-anniversary copy of the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird inscribed by Lee to Veronique and Gregory, who won an Oscar in 1963 for his role as Alabama attorney Atticus Finch. Wrote Lee, “To Gregory and Veronique: You have a unique place in my heart. Harper.” It sold for $35,000.
“Harper Lee once said the role of Atticus Finch gave Gregory Peck the chance to play himself, because he was that man,” Gregory and Veronique’s son Anthony said before the auction. Bidders responded appropriately.
The nearly sold-out auction, featuring some 250 lots, proved to be a blockbuster event. It realized a total of $1,279,367, attracted more than 1,100 bidders worldwide, and lasted more than six hours. Collectors were rewarded with numerous scripts spanning Peck’s acclaimed film career, awards, landmark costumes, beloved and important works of fine and decorative art and myriad mementos the couple accrued during their illustrious and remarkable lives.
“It is a true testament to Veronique and Gregory Peck’s legacy that collectors from around the world so eagerly participated in this auction of iconic Hollywood history,” said West Coast Director of Trust and Estates Carolyn Mani. “And even now, the couple remains philanthropic and kind, as a portion of the proceeds from this auction will benefit Chef Jose Andres’ nonprofit World Central Kitchen. We thank the Peck family for allowing Heritage to participate in such an extraordinary event.”
The auction began with a parade of pieces from the Pecks’ estimable collection of fine art acquired during their world travels. Raoul Dufy’s Chevaux et turfistes a Epsom toplined the offerings, realizing $93,750. Then it moved into the stuff of which Golden Age Hollywood was made — including a silver box given to the Pecks upon their 25th anniversary by their best friends, among them the Frank and Barbara Sinatra, Johnny and Joanna Carson, Billy and Audrey Wilder, Cary Grant, Walter and Carol Matthau, Rod and Alana Stewart and many others. Its lid is engraved with Veronique and Gregory’s names and the date Dec. 31, 1980; the box itself is engraved with the signatures of their many friends. It achieved $20,000. Here, too, was the poker table the Sinatras gave to the Pecks, who hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra, Angie Dickinson, Jack Lemmon and countless other names. One lucky bidder anted up $21,250 for the pleasure and privilege of shuffling up and dealing at this famous felt.
Among the most coveted items in the auction was the Golden Globe Award presented to Peck as the “World Film Favorite of 1954,” a year during which he starred in Man with a Million, Night People and The Purple Plain. The award realized $30,000. A second Golden Globe, for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, honored Peck for his final on-screen performance in the 1998 television mini-series Moby Dick and sold toward the auction’s end for $22,500.
The sale featured personalized, customized book-bound scripts for each of Peck’s films, among them 1953’s Roman Holiday, the very film during which Gregory met Veronique. This script, with 16 production stills and portraits contained within, sold for $25,000. Peck’s leather-bound script for Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound was inscribed by the legendary producer David O. Selznick, who wrote inside, “For Greg — with gratitude for his superb work in this, our first association. May we have many, many more together! D.O 1945.” A bidding war drove its final price to $17,500.
So it would go, time and again, whenever one of the leather-bound, gilt-stamped scripts from Peck’s private library appeared. Gentleman’s Agreement, in which Peck was Oscar-nominated as a reporter exposing anti-Semitism in America, opened live bidding at $5,250, then sold for $15,000. His Captain Horatio Hornblower, signed and inscribed by director Raoul Walsh, opened at $1,550, only to realize $8,750. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit opened live bidding at $1,300, then sold for $10,000. Peck’s first Moby Dick, from 1956, opened at $4,000 and sold for $15,000. The script from his first turn in Cape Fear started live bidding at $5,000; it wound up selling for $17,500. One of the auction’s surprise shootouts was prompted by Peck’s 1960 passport, which opened live bidding at $875. But this extraordinary document was not to be denied its duel in the sun; after all, it told the story of Peck’s international travels in the 1960s and contains two extraordinarily rare “Eldred Gregory Peck” signatures, one on Peck’s passport photo. By the time the bidding ended, some several minutes later, the passport realized $21,875.
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