Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s auction to include Picasso ceramics

One of the famous ceramics had a bid of €15,000 on Wednesday

More than 150 personal items and works of art that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg kept in her Washington residence and Supreme Court chambers are up for auction. The Potomack County auction house in Alexandria, Virginia, opened catalogues this month for the items, which include ceramics by Picasso and a caricature print of the widely admired justice, who died in 2020. Proceeds will benefit the Washington National Opera, whose concerts Ginsburg frequently attended.

The Potomack Co. said it would donate 10 per cent of the seller's commission to fellowships offered by the Women of Berkeley Law, a student group at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. Ginsburg was known for fighting for women's rights for more than a half century.

The auction for Ginsburg’s modern art collection will take place Wednesday, followed by a session the next day with decorative arts and memento items from her Supreme Court chambers and residence in the Watergate complex in Washington. “These items are truly tangible pieces of her life and times as one of America’s greatest Supreme Court justices,” Elizabeth Haynie Wainstein, owner of the Potomack Co., said on Wednesday. “These items would be of interest to all Americans who admired Ginsburg as a civil rights pioneer and defender of equality for all Americans.”

Wainstein said the bids with the highest estimates were the Pablo Picasso ceramic pieces, one of which had a bid of $15,000 (€13,900) on Wednesday. There is a caricature print of Ginsburg by artist Eleanor Davis. The print, which hung in the justice’s Supreme Court chambers, had a bid of $7,500 (€6,900) on Wednesday. A “natural black mink coat” with the justice’s name in a pocket had a bid of $1,200 (€1,100). On the more affordable end, there is a concert poster from a performance that featured her grandson. The bid was for $30 (€27) on Wednesday. The collection also includes bronze sculptures by Glenna Goodacre, who designed the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington. There are medals and awards that Ginsburg received over the years.


Ginsburg died from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87 in September 2020. She was the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court. In her later years, Ginsburg developed a rock-star following and became a popular cultural figure to younger generations. A law student, Shana Knizhnik, nicknamed her the Notorious RBG – a play on the name of the Notorious BIG, the rapper who, like Ginsburg, came from Brooklyn, New York. She became a pop culture icon, inspiring impersonations on NBC's Saturday Night Live.

The auction is the latest example of how Ginsburg has been honoured and remembered. Last month, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History said that the justice’s children were donating her “dissent” collar, which she wore when presenting powerful and pointed opinions that were at odds with the Supreme Court’s majority.

The distinctive collar is one of four being donated, along with other items, including the judicial robe that she wore most often during her more than 25 years on the court. The donations coincide with the museum’s decision to posthumously award Ginsburg its signature honour, the Great Americans Medal.

On March 31 the US Navy said it would name a ship after her. The USNS Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be a John Lewis-class replenishment oiler ship designed to carry fuel to the Navy's operating carrier strike groups, the Navy said. The vessel will be the first US Navy ship to bear Ginsburg's name and is sponsored by her daughter, Jane Ginsburg. The ship has not been constructed yet. This article originally appeared in The New York Times