Thursday, April 30, 2009

Duke-ing it Out




Uber-rich tobacco heiress Doris Duke was BFFs with Imelda "mega-shoe" Marcos and had her glamorous, tabloid excessive alcoholic rampages portrayed in high style on screen by both Lauren Bacall and Susan Sarandon.

However, what the mega-dollar diva lacked in human empathy she made up in her zen-like devotion to the environment, wildlife, and the arts. Her privately owned 3,000 acre Duke Farms estate which is in the neighborhood and a personal fav to those of us who have passed through the iron gates --- is now devoted exclusively to environmental education and conservation.

An auction this weekend of what remains of the contents of her estate is set to benefit the Duke trust foundation that was set up after her death to run the place. And looking at what is going on the block, well, it is an interesting mix. Beyond the impressive collections of art, furniture, and outdoor sculpture Duke collected from around the globe-- particularly the far east where it seems she had a special fondness-- one can't help noticing some of the other odds and ends thrown into the mix. I take it the assumption being that even if Miz Duke picked something up at the local WalMart just sticking it somewhere in her closet increased its value some 100 fold. Among the priceless Thai artifacts , there is her beaten up 1979 Cadillac Seville which looks pretty close to the junk heap, plus the more mundane stuff like pots and pans and toasters from the kitchen, and items labeled "from the basement". Well, it is comforting to know that even the rich like a tag sale and I assume that any kind of recycling is better than the garbage dump.

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