Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s art, fur coat, awards in auction to benefit opera
Some 150 items from Ginsburg’s office and home at the Watergate are available in an online auction to benefit opera in Washington.
WASHINGTON — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg so liked the caricature that accompanied an article about her that she got a copy from the artist and hung it in her Supreme Court office.
That signed and inscribed print by artist Eleanor Davis is among 150 items from Ginsburg’s office and home at the Watergate in an online auction to benefit opera in Washington that will end in late April.
An earthenware plate by Pablo Picasso that hung in Ginsburg’s dining room, a black mink coat with her name sewn in a pocket and a souvenir vase from the Capitol luncheon following former President Barack Obama’s first inaugural also are up for auction.
The sale could raise $50,000 to $80,000 for the Washington National Opera, one of the late justice’s passions. She took part in at least three productions over the years, including a speaking, but non-singing, role for one night in 2016.
Ginsburg’s family selected the Potomack Company to handle the auction.
“It’s an opportunity to own something personal of hers and support the opera,” said Elizabeth Haynie Wainstein, the auction house’s owner.
Bidding for some items begins as low as $25, though the opening bid on the Picasso plate is $4,000, Haynie Wainstein said. Three other Picasso pieces also are in the auction.
The natural black mink coat, made by the Gartenhaus fur company in the Washington area, is going for a starting bid of $250.
Ginsburg died of cancer at age 87 in September 2020. Appreciation for the Supreme Court’s second female justice and liberal icon, dubbed the Notorious RBG in her later years, has continued well after her death.
The Navy recently announced it would name a ship after her in the John Lewis class of replenishment oilers. The ships are named in honor of people who fought for civil and human rights, the Navy said.
Last month, the Smithsonian also posthumously honored Ginsburg with the National Museum of American History’s Great Americans Medal. Her children, Jane and James Ginsburg, have donated other possessions of the mother’s to the museum, including Ginsburg’s Paris-made judicial robe and a collection of collars she wore over it.
In January, an online auction of Ginsburg’s books brought in $2.3 million, almost 30 times the pre-sale estimate, according to Bonhams, the company that conducted the auction.
The April auction includes a print of the artist Josef Albers’ “Red Orange Wall” that hung above Ginsburg’s bed. Albers was among Ginsburg’s favorite artists. An original Albers work that was on loan from the National Gallery of Art was prominently displayed in her office at the court.
Six works by the sculptor Glenna Goodacre that Ginsburg acquired during her regular summer trips to Santa Fe, New Mexico, for an opera festival are for sale, along with a silver tea set and a pair of Saint Louis Crystal eagle bookends.
One of Ginsburg’s grandchildren, Paul Spera, also has an original piece of art among the items being auctioned. His “Bubbie of Liberty,” using the Yiddish word for grandma, has Ginsburg’s likeness atop the Statue of Liberty.