More André Leon Talley LL Bean Bags

I’m committed to the bit and will blog about every André Leon Talley Bean Bag that comes to auction. Including these six [!] which look like they were the ones he actually used. I may have to buy them and then flip five because honestly [update: honestly, i am not bidding on these]

21 Sept 2023 | Lot 429, Group of Six LL Bean Canvas Totes With Monogram, est. $400-600, sold for $1400+buyer’s premium []
Previously: They Had Matching Bean Bags

Thai Commemorative Swag

Apsara loves Mitoken is a Japanese blog specializing in the many limited edition gadgets made to commemorate important occasions involving the Thai Royal Family.

image via apsara loves mitoken

For the Golden Jubilee 50th anniversary celebration of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s accession to the Thai throne in 1996, Leica produced a gold-plated M6 camera with matching 50mm lens in an edition of 700. The King’s crest is emblazoned on the top.

image via

There were at least nine limited edition watches produced to commemorate the 60th anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s accession to the Thai throne in 2006, including a Patek Philippe and GUIDING LIGHT THAILAND, a commemorative Swatch, issued in a limited edition of 4509. From the text inside the special commemorative cardboard box:

Thai Airways International Public Company Limited is proud to celebrate with all the kingdom the joyous and auspicious occasion of His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne with a limited edition of Thai Airways International and SWATCH wrist watch uniquely made to celebrate this glorious event.

As His Majesty has always been a “guiding light” for the Thai people, symbolic guiding stars appear on the watch. The Thai numerical number “sixty” is attached to the strap, signifying the 60th Anniversary of His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne, and the strap is yellow as this is the color traditionally associated with Monday, the day of His Majesty’s birth.

Upon the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2016, the throne passed to his son. His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun’s coronation in 2019 was commemorated by the release of a gold-plated wrist watch by the Italian fashion brand Klasse14 featuring the Royal Emblem on the face. It was available at a Klasse14 pop-up shop at the Siam Paragon Watch Expo that auspicious summer. One can easily imagine that His Majesty The King, who primarily lives in Bavaria, will be the inspiration for a great many things that convey the unique character of His Majesty’s glorious reign.

[five minutes later update: It appears my investigation of commemorative Royal Thai gold-plated Leica cameras has been incomplete. Wayne Bremser just posted a link to the 2022 release of the Leica M10-P Royal Thai limited edition digital camera and matching lens, in gold-plate and gold or green alligator. Of the edition of 30, six were given to the Royal Family, and 22 were purchased by ThaiBev, the country’s largest distiller. ThaiBev is controlled by Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, the country’s second richest person (not counting His Majesty The King, obv), and is run by his son Thapana, who instigated the edition. The 22 cameras were auctioned at Christie’s in Bangkok and Singapore last fall, thus giving the elite of Thailand and the companies they control the chance to publicly demonstrate their support for 22 of His Majesty’s favorite charities. So far I have found one result, of a real estate developer paying 5x the retail price for a camera ThaiBev donated to a foundation for the blind.]

[Few Days Later Update: I was traveling and did not win the auction for four limited edition Swatches designed by and/or commemorating key moments in the life of the Thai Royal Family.]

Hey, Experts en Héraldique Français

The local château is flying a new flag, does anyone know what it is, or do I have to email the châtelaine? [Who is delightful, but I hate to bother.]

The closest match I can find for the heraldic charges is a woman whose family came to Aix-en-Provence in the 17th century as Secretary for the king, Angelique de Fagou. So happy pride, I guess.

[few days later update: utter silence. we may never know.] on Bluesky, email

Are you on Bluesky? I am on Bluesky. If you’re there, please find me and let’s connect.

With [gestures around at the tumultuous state of social media platforms] all this, I am working on a mailing list, which will likely become a very l0w-volume newsletter/projects update.

I will do a proper invitation soon, but if you’d like to be added to my mailing list, please email me, greg at greg dot org.

See you here and there!

They Had Matching Bean Bags

Lot 1037 from Karl Lagerfeld’s Estate Online I, Dec. 6, 2021, sold for EUR 3024

Last night, in a post-MetGala nonsense haze, I dragged myself through the eight [8!] sales Sotheby’s held in late 2021 of Karl Lagerfeld’s estate. The green LL Bean boat tote with Lagerfeld embroidered on it caught my eye.

As his deeply depressing memoir recounts, André Leon Talley and Lagerfeld were extremely close from their first encounter in the early 1970s, when he interviewed the designer for WWD at The Plaza Hotel. Young Talley caused a scandal once in Paris when, running late for a party at Maxim’s, he threw on Lagerfeld’s dressing gown instead of going back to his hotel for the required black tie.

In December 2013, after a Chanel Rodeo in Dallas, Talley asked Lagerfeld to fund a retrospective of a Chanel photographer who’d just died. Karl said he’d think about it. Talley found himself removed from Chanel’s guest and gift lists, and the two men never communicated again.

Lot 387 from Andre Leon Talley’s estate sale at Christie’s, sold for USD 2520

Lagerfeld’s LL Bean bag caught my eye because a few months ago, an identical one was sold at Christie’s from Talley’s estate. Talley’s lot had a date, c. 2010, so pre-split. What impossibly middle class situation might have occasioned the creation of these matching tote bags for these two men? Did they have them made? LMAO, no. Can you imagine either of these men choosing these bags? Or typing in their embroidery orders on They were swag, or a party favor. Did the men save them, or did the bags only survive their recipients because they were forgotten immediately?

It’s now impossible to say, but that didn’t stop someone out there from paying a thousand euros and twelve hundred dollars, respectively, for these mute artifacts of weekend houseguest culture tenuously connected to these two very damaged men.

Previously: ALT X LLB

Walden, Or Afterlife Of The Wood

“I have been long inquiring whether any remenant of the house at Walden remained, feeling that it would be a choice relic of axe strokes that were literally heard round the world,” wrote Yale professor Henry Seidel Canby in 1932.

Stud sections and nails from Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, a gift of Henry Seidel Canby to the Yale Collections of American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Yale’s Henry David Thoreau Collection is small but intense. Of sixteen items, seven are holographs, texts written in the author’s hand. There are pencils made by Thoreau’s father, and the label for a pencil box they might have c piome in. There are a couple of surveys the author made as part of his dreaded work. And there are two pieces of wood and two nails, which are reported to come from Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond. They were donated by Professor Canby.

There are two documents in the Collection pertaining to the material history of Thoreau’s cabin: One is the 1932 provenance statement accompanying the wood and nails by Canby, a noted Thoreau fanboy and biographer [who was called the “dean of American literary critics” in his bio in The Saturday Review, which he founded and edited for 12 years.] The other is a 1949 essay/survey of the cabin’s post-Walden history which its authors, two then-students, Francis Shelden and G. Peter Shiras called the first “exact, authenticated history of the Thoreau hut.”

Continue reading “Walden, Or Afterlife Of The Wood”

The Little Apple

In 1982 John F. Kennedy, Jr. was a senior in American Studies at Brown, living off campus in a house with, among others, Christiane Amanpour. Under what circumstances would he make…this? It looks like the top of a newel post on a stairway, except it has to be carved, not just turned. And while newel posts are topped with balls, acorns, and even pineapples, I have never seen one topped with apple apples. Also it is painted and distressed. And signed on the bottom which, if it were meant for a newel post, would be invisible forever, a secret revealed only to future carpenters.

But imagine you can conjure a scenario where JFK Jr. made this. Now think of the situation in which John-John gave this little painted apple objet to legendary cabaret star Bobby Short [RIP 2005].

I mean, I don’t doubt they knew each other, such as these things go. Short was certainly friendly with Kennedy’s mother and aunt. But how? When? Why? Did he take a woodworking class at Brown, and made all his Christmas presents that year? In which case, how is this the only one? Or the only one to come to light?

The unnamed executor of Bobby Short’s estate, who didn’t put it in the 2006 Christie’s auction of Short’s belongings, but who was mentioned in the sale of this apple in 2013 as the source for its attribution to THE John Kennedy, not just SOME John Kennedy, did not elaborate.

[next morning update: maybe he won it? The writing on the bottom of the apple does not match JFK’s handwriting from his application to Brown, which someone dug out of the trash and put up for sale a few years ago.]

9 Nov 2013 Lot 1320: Attr. to John F. Kennedy, Jr., sold for $350 [liveauctioneers]
16 Feb 2006 | The Personal Property of Bobby Short [christies]


Lot 387, LL Bean canvas tote bags, c.2010, H28cm, from the Estate of Andre Leon Talley, sold for $2,520

This is the one bag I actually kind of wanted from the sale of Andre Leon Talley’s estate. And yet it felt like it was so not his style. OTOH, “includes a Christie’s dustbag,” so they made it hard to resist. But it also included a VOGUE tote bag, which made it easier. RIP.

Does this look like a Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres who’d use a 12-inch LL Bean canvas tote? photo by Jonathan Becker sold, but Tom Ford kimono didn’t, innnteresting.

The Exceptional Sale of The Arizona Spike

The Arizona Spike, presented at Promontory Point, Utah on 10 May 1869 by Arizona Territory Governor Anson Safford, for the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, being sold by the Museum of the City of New York at Christie’s on 27 January 2023, est. $300-500,000.

First of all, it seems buck wild that a spike from the Golden Spike ceremony marking the completion of the transcontinental railroad is even available for sale. Second, but really first, it is even wilder how hard the lot description for the spike rides for its urgent historical relevance right. now.

Maybe it helps that the spike, known as the Arizona Spike, is being sold in Christie’s “Exceptional Sale,” an off-season, cross-department assemblage of objets whose only obvious common thread is their uniqueness. But I’m hard-pressed to think of another auction text that makes a stronger case, not just for an object’s historical significance, but its contextualization in the current culture. It’s a text that belongs in a museum, like the spike itself.

Which, yeah, funny story. The spike is one of four [or seven, or maybe even eight, with at least one missing, this essay does have everything] made for the hastily organized 1869 ceremony, and is being sold by the Museum of the City of New York, where it was donated in 1943, by a New York descendant of Sidney Dillon, the Union Pacific executive and US Government defrauder who took the spike home from the hammering.

That defrauding’s in there, along with the delay to the ceremony when Dillon and other execs had their private rail car decoupled in Wyoming, and were held hostage by Union Pacific laborers who hadn’t been paid for five months. And the dispossession of Indian lands by the railroad grants. And the racist legislation banning immigration from China, where so many of the actual railroad workers came from. The same workers who got their due after several paragraphs detailing the preening rivalries and promotional dithering, including the Central Pacific’s Leland Stanford’s wiring his spike to the telegraph, so that his hammer blow would go out to the nation live–and then he missed:

The dignitaries soon left the scene while a Chinese crew replaced the ceremonial tie with a pine tie and common iron spikes — leading one journalist to declare, most appropriately, that in reality was not [the Union Pacific’s Dr. Thomas] Durant or Stanford, but rather it was the ‘Chinese who really laid the last tie and drove the last spike.'”

Somewhere in this Andrew J. Russell photo is Sidney Dillon, possibly holding a/this railroad spike. The Chinese laborers who actually completed the railway were somehow not included

Anyway, the lot description and the feature article related to it are truly a journey. It addresses the spike’s provenance, trying to harmonize incomplete contemporary media references–a very Arizona Spike-ish spike was reportedly displayed in a San Francisco jewelry store weeks after Dillon presumably took the spike back east with him from Promontory, Utah–with family lore–from a family which included a namesake/great-grandson who became secretary of the Smithsonian. But it also puts the historic significance of the Golden Spike (or Last Spike) ceremony and the transcontinental railroad itself into both historic and contemporary context with amazing candor and rigor. What feels like it should be the rule for museums is, for an auction house, exceptional.

UPDATE: Sold for a hammer price of $1.8 million, $2.22 million with buyer’s premium. Excellent monetization, Museum of the City of New York!

The Execptional Sale, Lot 15: A Steel Railroad Spike Clad In Gold and Silver… []
A Point of Acceleration: The Arizona Railroad Spike and the birth of modern America [christie’s magazine]

This is Fine. Gaultier Furniture

A Jean-Paul Gaultier Ben Hur chair at the Roche Bobois store in Chevy Chase

Took the kid to get her booster at the vacated H&M flagship in the emptied out World Market mall in Chevy Chase, once the most luxurious shopping neighborhood in Washington, which is now a retail wasteland on top of a Metro station over which nimbys are nonetheless gearing up to fight redevelopment. Across the street from the basement TJ Maxx in the closed Neiman Marcus mall, and kitty corner from the worst Michael’s in the world, in the basement, below the Booeymonger’s, which is below the Mattress Warehouse, which is below three levels of no-validation parking deck, remains the Roche Bobois showroom, where this Jean-Paul Gaultier Ben Hur chair was pushed, without hope, up against the emergency exit.

Which, tbh, didn’t only feel out of place, but out of time.

Continue reading “This is Fine. Gaultier Furniture”

Doris Duke Cartier Necklace Mounting

Platinum and baguette diamond necklace mounting by Cartier, c. 1937, sold for $53, 775 by the Doris Duke Foundation at Christie’s in 2004

I was absolutely certain I’d written about this, but I guess I’ve just been thinking about this wild Cartier necklace mounting, minus most of the diamonds, which the Doris Duke estate sold for $54,000 for 18 years. It was truly a standout in the auction of Duke’s jewelry.

The preposterously scaled necklace was purchased by Duke’s boyfriend, a couple of years before they got married. She raided the necklace over the years, and remounted 79 of the diamonds in other pieces, leaving a gorgeous, platinum husk.

Doris Duke’s Zombie Cartier Diamond Necklace, reconstituted with period-correct diamonds and offered at Christie’s Geneve in May 2017 for CHF 3-5 million, image via alaintruong

A jewelry aficionado with an absurdly advanced appreciation of historical accuracy, and possessed of a conceptual sophistication rivaled only by their access to money, apparently spent years assembling period-correct cushion and Old European-cut stones to reconstitute Doris Duke’s Depression-era diamond fringe necklace. This zombie necklace was offered for sale at Christie’s in 2017, with an estimate of CHF 3-5 million. It did not sell, at least publicly.

Out of respect for the time and effort required to assemble them, I don’t want the diamonds to be released back into the wild; put them in a little bag. But definitely take them out, and let the necklace be restored to its perfect, skeletal state. It’s what Doris would have wanted.

Tejo Remy X Balenciaga

Katja Meirovsky, Uniform Clothing, image via Stefan Rollof via Erin L. Thompson

via Prof. Erin Thompson comes the story of Katja Meirovsky, who in 1940 wore a red dress to her Berlin art school which she made by cutting the swastika off a stolen nazi flag. She became part of the Red Orchestra, the largest civilian resistance movement against Hitler. The group and its members are the subject of an exhibition at the German Resistance Memorial Center by artist Stefan Roloff, which Thompson reviewed at Hyperallergic.

Tejo Remy Re-Bench made from Balenciaga deadstock fabric at the London store, Nov. 2022, via

In other problematic textile repurposing news, Droog designer Tejo Remy, who has always made custom Rag Chairs from the client’s bags of old clothes, has collaborated with Demna. Remy made Re-Benches out of deadstock and offcut fabric for Balenciaga, which were installed this month in ten boutiques worldwide. After two weeks on display, they went up for sale online. Artnet says the drop on the 22nd was a surprise, and sold out immediately. But there was time to put out press releases to the hypesphere. Balenciagattention was then promptly devoured by the rightwing vortex of shit, when online q-trolls fed the latest ad campaign through the p3do conspiracy outrage machine in the stupidest way possible. The company responded by loudly suing itself and its creative team.

None of which is the point here. The point is that Demna, too, is recycling. Remy made a Rag Chair last September at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs as a performance. He used linen panels left over from the exhibition, « Luxes », the hometown version of « Dix mille ans de luxe », with the Musée programmed for the Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2019, sponsored by the Confédération Européenne du Lin et du Chanvre, the European Confederation of Flax and Hemp.

August 2022: Gap before the stormfront, image: @owen_lang

The video recap very much does not look like a performance, but it does work as a how-to for making your own Rag furniture. Whether you use the leftover scenery from your pandemic-era exhibitions or your bags of damning fits by suddenly outré designers, you can tell your own story! Or maybe you have a lead on those giant bins of cancelled Yeezy x Gap joints you can turn into at least ten of the dankest Rag Chairs ever.

Tasty Chandigarh Bookcase

Lot 270, Toomey & Co. design auction, 13 dec 2022

Where has this Pierre Jeanneret teak and steel and glass bookcase been all my life? The Central State Library, you say? Can you loot three more to match?

Suddenly I’m rethinking my moral objections to the emptying of Chandigarh for the aesthetic enrichment of the bourgeoisie of the west. [oh wait, I already rethought it.]

[A couple of obsessed hours later update: there is another. A similar bookcase was sold at Christie’s in Paris in November 2021. It had the same estimate, was in what looks to be less attractive condition–and sold for EUR225,000.

The lot essay says Jeanneret’s “crenelated shelves of the Central Library display case recall the undulating glass panels and alternating railings of the interior architecture he had designed.” Hmm. Here is a photo of the cases installed in the library.

Interior views of the Central State Library, Sector 17, Chandigarh, India by Pierre Jeanneret, photo: Jeet Molhothra, via CCA

Lot 270: Bibliothèque from the Central State Library, Chandigarh, est. $30-50,000 [UPDATE: sold for just $30,700!] [toomey]
Previously, very much related, in that they’re Chandigarh pieces I want: Chandigarh Find

Hilton Aluminum Cookware

At one point in the 1910s, before he was married, my great-grandfather Wilford “Bill” Hilton sold aluminum cookware door-to-door in southern Utah. That’s according to an undated note my great-grandmother Vera Snow wrote to accompany these drippy aluminum blobs. In the 1920s, when my grandmother Lora Hilton was a little girl, the note continued, she accidentally melted some of these leftover aluminum pots on the stove.

The resulting dripped and pooled forms were interesting enough for my great-grandmother, and then my grandmother, to save in a drawer for a hundred years. I’ve had them on the bookshelf for a couple of years now, trying to think of what to do with them. Mostly, I just look at them and think about these people who kept these things. Sometimes I think about trying to photograph them better.

Obviously, if asked, I would install gargantuan replicas of them on the plaza of the Seagram Building. I’m not naive.

Previously, related; Vera’s Rocks

Brigham Morris Young, son of one Mormon prophet and son-in-law of another, dressed as his operatic alter ego, Madam Pattirini, for a concert at the Sugar House Ward, Salt Lake City, c. 1901

With news that at least two of the five victims of the Colorado Springs terrorist attack on Club Q were trans, and that the shooter, apprehended by patrons of the gay club he attacked, is a member of the LDS Church, it’s important to note the impact of the Church’s own positions and rhetoric in stoking anti-LGBTQ hatred and violence among its members, and as part of an increasingly extremist network of right-wing religio-political groups around the world.

Whatever progress and enlightenment it has achieved, the LDS Church and its constituent communities are far too often a source of bigotry and pain and an unsafe space for queer members. And the Church’s treatment of trans members is even worse.

When one Church leader–a cousin, fwiw–quotes another calling for “musket fire” in defense of the Church’s anti-LGBTQ policies, and when racist, misogynistic, and homophobic harassment by extremist members goes unchecked, even unmentioned, the Church should recognize the impact this has: and that includes stoking the murderous violence that one member unleashed last weekend on his queer neighbors. It’s not as if the guy had to be a zealot hanging on every word; in this case, he apparently was not, but was raised up in it. And then he found more hate to reinforce and build on what he’d absorbed.

The point is, the organization that should be fostering love is seeding bigotry and lending credence to active agents of violence against LGBTQ people.