LOS ANGELES – Abell Auction Co. will present the estate of magazine publisher and free speech advocate Larry Flynt (1942–2021). The sale lineup features a collection of American slag glass lamps, Art Deco lighting, Empire furniture and much more. The online auction will be held on Tuesday, December 13 starting at 9 am Pacific time, with absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
The objects in this sale were personally collected by Flynt, who was an antiques aficionado and at one point owned an antiques and collectibles store on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. The treasures on offer adorned the headquarters of Larry Flynt Publications, known as the Flynt Building, at the intersection of La Cienega Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Flynt acquired the 10-story modernist building in the mid-1990s and decorated his palatial offices with thousands of artworks, ranging from classically inspired paintings and Tiffany- and Handel-style lamps to marble and bronze statues.
Items in this estate decorated the Flynt Building penthouse, which was furnished with more than 100 sitting areas, each with its own paintings, lamps, flowers, ornamental vases and gilded and carved furniture. These myriad objects of art reflect Flynt’s one-of-a-kind personality and luxurious lifestyle.
From a young age, Flynt was a provocateur with a keen eye for business. Born in 1942, he grew up in poverty in Kentucky and Indiana and dropped out of school at an early age. After stints in the armed forces and at a General Motors plant, he opened the first Hustler Club in Dayton, Ohio, in the late 1960s. Flynt followed its success with a string of clubs across the state and in 1972 created a simple black-and-white newsletter to promote them. This newsletter evolved into Hustler Magazine, Flynt’s flagship adult publication, which became famous for its explicit photos, irreverent cartoons and political exposes. Nothing was off limits for Hustler.
During the course of his lifetime, Flynt was involved in a great number of legal battles and became a champion of the First Amendment. In the most important of these actions, he took Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell all the way to the Supreme Court. The televangelist Jerry Falwell had sued for libel and emotional distress prompted by a Campari ad parody published in Hustler depicting Falwell’s so-called “first time.” In 1988, the Supreme Court justices ruled unanimously in Flynt’s favor. First Amendment advocates cheered the decision as an expansion of the parameters and protections of free speech to solidly include parody and satire. As Flynt often said, “Free speech is not for the idea you love but for the idea you hate most.”
Flynt built his publishing company into a business empire that now includes 60 retail stores, casinos, gentlemen’s clubs and the largest number of adult-oriented broadcasting channels in the world. He did so from the confines of a wheelchair, the result of a 1978 assassination attempt sparked by an interracial layout in Hustler Magazine. His eventful life and constant battle for free speech became the subject of Milos Forman’s 1996 Golden Globe-winning movie The People vs. Larry Flynt, which starred Woody Harrelson.
Without a doubt, Flynt’s estate sale offers a unique opportunity to own not only beautiful treasures, but an important piece of American history.
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