The Power of Love: Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman’s Collection Fetches Record-Breaking Prices

Sotheby’s recent sales of The World of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman marked a significant chapter in the history of Hollywood‘s iconic couple. The auction concluded today, surpassing all expectations by reaching a total of $4.3 million, nearly tripling its pre-sale estimate of $1.5 million.

The final sale of High Speed: Paul Newman’s Racing Legacy, which included race-worn suits, custom helmets, championship rings, and two of Newman’s personal automobiles, anchored the series and achieved an impressive $491,353 with 100% of the lots sold.

The Power of Love: Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman's Collection Fetches Record-Breaking Prices
Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman at the 1958 Academy Awards
(Photo by Darlene Hammond/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The World of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman collection offered a total of 341 lots, all of which were sold, making it an exceptional success for Sotheby’s.

Exceptional Watches Dominate Sotheby’s Auction

On 9 June, Sotheby’s held an auction of Important Watches, featuring timepieces and racing memorabilia from Joanne and Paul’s personal collection. The six pieces presented were sold in their entirety, generating a remarkable $2.3 million (estimated at $1 – 2 million). The standout items of the collection were two extraordinary Rolex Daytonas, symbolizing pivotal moments in Newman’s illustrious racing career. Both watches, renowned for their exceptional provenance, rank among the rarest timepieces ever to be available in the market.

One of the highlights was the sale of a Rolex Reference 16520 ‘Zenith’ Daytona, which fetched $1.1 million after an intense four-minute bidding war involving three determined participants (estimated at $500,000 – 1 million). This stainless steel watch was presented to Newman after his team’s victory in the GTS-1 class at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona Race. The watch bears the inscription ‘Rolex at Daytona 24 Paul Newman Rolex Motorsports Man of the Year 1995.’ This remarkable achievement made Newman, at the age of 70, the oldest driver ever to win the race, a record that remains unbroken and is noted in The Guinness Book of World Records.

The Power of Love: Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman's Collection Fetches Record-Breaking Prices
From Left to Right: Paul Newman’s Rolex Reference 16520 ‘Zenith’ Daytona & Rolex Reference 116519 Daytona

Another highlight was Paul Newman’s Rolex Reference 116519 Daytona, gifted to him by Joanne Woodward. This white gold automatic chronograph wristwatch from circa 2006, featuring a black dial, was the only precious metal Daytona ever owned by Newman. With four bidders fiercely competing, the final price reached $1.1 million (estimated at $500,000 – 1 million). Notably, the watch is distinguished by a touching inscription on the case back that reads, ‘Drive Very Slowly Joanne.’

A Life & Legacy: The Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman Collection Finds Enthusiastic Buyers

The auction titled A Life & Legacy: The Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman Collection, provided bidders with an opportunity to own a piece of the couple’s cherished belongings. The auction achieved an impressive $1.4 million, with a remarkable 100% of all lots finding buyers. Furthermore, an astounding 85% of the sold lots exceeded their high estimate.

The collection, primarily sourced from Woodward and Newman’s residences in Westport, Connecticut, and Manhattan, offered over 230 works that illuminated the two worlds the couple inhabited—the glamorous Hollywood power-couple lifestyle and their intimate private life surrounded by their most cherished people, objects, and philanthropic causes.

Film & Entertainment Memorabilia Shine in A Life & Legacy Auction

A significant selection of film and entertainment memorabilia captivated bidders in the A Life & Legacy auction. The collection featured items associated with the couple’s illustrious careers in film and television. Given their extensive list of legendary projects, both individually and together, it was no surprise that this category performed exceptionally well.

Noteworthy highlights included Paul Newman’s Ice Skates, worn by the Hollywood star in Slap Shot, which ignited a fierce bidding war among 14 bidders, ultimately selling for $25,400, nearly 17 times its high estimate. Another standout piece was the “Telegraph Office” Sign from The Sting, one of the greatest screenplays ever written, which soared to $10,160, close to 15 times its high estimate. A photograph of Paul Newman and Robert Redford on the set of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid amassed an impressive 59 bids, selling for $16,510, the second-highest number of bids in the online sale. Joanne Woodward’s Velvet dress, worn in her Oscar-winning performance in The Three Faces of Eve, fetched $10,795 (estimated at $600-800).

The Power of Love: Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman's Collection Fetches Record-Breaking Prices
1. Joanne Woodward Academy Award Nomination Plaque for Rachel, Rachel ($3,000 – 4,000)
2. Prop Shackles Used in the Production of Cool Hand Luke ($3,000 – 5,000)
3. Bound Presentation Book inscribed by Martin Scorsese, and the Revised Script for The Color of Money ($3,000 – 5,000)

Furthermore, iconic items such as the Shackles from Cool Hand Luke and Paul Newman’s Academy Award Nomination Plaque from the same film sold for an astounding $85,000, over 10 times their combined high estimate. A Bound Presentation Script from the 1963 film Hud sold for $19,050, well above its pre-estimate of $1,500. Lastly, Paul Newman’s Academy Award Nomination Plaque for the beloved 1986 film The Color of Money, alongside the iconic “Fast Eddie” Bespoke Pool Cue, received the most bids in the sale (63), resulting in a total of $104,140 (combined estimate $4,000-6,000).

Personal Accessories and Fine Art & Furniture Add to the Allure

The collection also included a selection of personal accessories, iconic clothing, furniture, and decorative art that were cherished and worn by the couple. Paul Newman’s pair of Alpine Skis and Poles sold for $15,240, surpassing its pre-estimate by 19 times. Joanne Woodward’s Gloves, worn at the 30th Academy Awards, achieved $4,064, well above its estimated value of $800. Former President George H. W. Bush’s “Pardon” to Paul Newman garnered $6,096 (estimated at $1,500 – 2,000).

The auction also featured furniture and decorative art, including 19th-century American folk art portraiture and 18th-century American and English furniture. Notable sales included a Phelan & Collender ‘Monarch’ Billiard Table from the couple’s Manhattan apartment, which sold for $95,250, more than three times its high estimate.

Additionally, a 19th-century portrait of a Young Black Girl in a White Dress Holding a Pocket Watch achieved an astounding $82,550, surpassing its pre-estimate by over 42 times. A painting of Joanne Woodward by American artist Aaron Abraham Shikler, displayed above the living room fireplace in their New York City apartment, sold for $30,480. Other remarkable items included a Black Forest Style Carved Oak Hall Tree Coat Rack, used by the Woodward Newman family in their barn in Westport, Connecticut, which fetched $24,130, well above its estimate of $800 – 1,200. Lastly, The Couple’s Infamous Bed from the Memoir, Paul Newman: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man, realized $8,890 (estimated at $500 – $1,000).

The Infamous Bed from the Memoir, Paul Newman: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man, Early 20th Century ($500 – 1,000)

High Speed: Paul Newman’s Racing Legacy Reaches New Heights

From 27 May to 13 June, RM Sotheby’s presented the High Speed: Paul Newman’s Racing Legacy sale, offering 99 artefacts from Paul Newman’s remarkable racing career. The auction achieved a total of $491,353, with all lots selling successfully. The sale included various items, ranging from a cherished trophy from his GTS-1 class victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race in 1995 to race-worn fire suits, custom helmets, championship rings, and more. With 240 bidders participating and a total of 807 bids placed, it was a testament to the enduring popularity of Paul Newman and his legacy in the racing world.

Among the notable sales was the 1998 Volvo V90 “Volvette,” one of Paul Newman’s hot-rodded Volvo station wagons modified with muscle-car powertrains. This unique vehicle, built in 2007 by Paul Newman’s race team as a gift to the actor-turned-racer, featured a 6.0-litre Chevrolet LS2 V-8 crate engine, a four-speed automatic transmission, and its original inline-six engine, transmission, and factory manuals. Surpassing its pre-sale high estimate, the Volvo V90 “Volvette” sold for an impressive $57,200, more than double its estimated value of $20,000 – $25,000.

The Power of Love: Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman's Collection Fetches Record-Breaking Prices
Paul Newman’s 1998 Volvo V90 “Volvette”

Another standout item was the 1993 PPG Indy Car Champion Ring inscribed to Paul Newman, which sold for an astonishing $32,400, more than four times its pre-sale estimate of $4,000 – $8,000. Similarly, the 2004 Champ Car World Champion Ring inscribed to Paul Newman sold for $27,000, surpassing its estimate of $5,000 – $10,000 by more than double.

In conclusion, the Sotheby’s auctions of The World of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman showcased the couple’s remarkable legacy in Hollywood and their passion for racing. The exceptional sales results demonstrated the enduring appeal of their personal belongings, film memorabilia, and racing artefacts, captivating bidders from around the world. As Hollywood’s “Golden Couple,” Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman continue to be celebrated for their contributions to the film industry and the world of motorsports, leaving an indelible mark on both realms.

Images: Sotheby’s

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