In 1934 in New Jersey, 18-year-old Frank Sinatra met Nancy Barbato, a young Italian-American secretary who made her own clothes. She became his wife and supported him financially while he began a career in music as a singing waiter in the midst of the Great Depression. The couple, who divorced in 1951 but remained close friends for the rest of their lives, went on to become the glamorous icons of 1950s Hollywood associated today with la dolce vita.
Following Nancy Sinatra’s death last year at the age of 101, 650 lots from their private collection, collated over a lifetime, will go under the hammer for the first time on Tuesday December 17 at Julien’s Auctions gallery in Beverly Hills.
The lots, which will be on public display at the auction house’s Beverly Hills space from December 14 to 15, range from fine art to furniture, jewellery, interiors and extraordinary memorabilia, including signed birthday notes from actors such as Tom Hanks.
The Steinway & Sons grand piano (estimated at $30,000 to $50,000) that the couple bought in 1949 is one of the highlights of the sale and was played to accompany artists such as Nat King Cole, George Burns and Michael Feinstein. Fine art, collected by Frank and Nancy during the 1940s, will include St Patrick’s in Winter, 1943 by American impressionist Guy Carlton Wiggins, expected to fetch between $60,000 and $80,000, as well as Parisian street scenes by European post-impressionist Edouard Léon Cortès, estimated at $10,000 to $15,000 each.
Offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the couple’s family life, objects from the Sinatras’ famed Holmby Hills estate at 320 Carolwood Drive will also feature at the auction, such as their twin Louis XV-style carved wood headboards ($400-$600), a pair of Asprey & Co silver candelabras ($8,000-$12,000), a Mark Cross monogrammed picnic set ($1,000-$1,500) and a Louis Vuitton trunk ($1,500-$2,500).
“In Nancy, I found beauty, warmth and understanding,” said Frank Sinatra in a 1952 interview. “Being with her was my only escape from what seemed to be a grim world.”