Luxurious fur coats and sparkling jewellery owned by the late Maureen O'Hara – Ireland's most famous Hollywood star – are to go under the hammer at a Sheppard's auction later this month. Last year, memorabilia associated with her Hollywood career, most notably the film The Quiet Man, was auctioned by Bonhams in New York. But Sheppard's said an unnamed private collector has consigned some 250 items of O'Hara's – with a combined top estimate of €500,000. They will go on public view in Sheppard's, Durrow, Co Laois saleroom from Saturday, November 25th before the auction on November 29th.
The New York auction attracted international interest including many Irish bidders and Sheppard’s said the sale was already attracting worldwide interest.
Born Maureen FitzSimons in Ranelagh, Dublin, in 1920, Maureen O'Hara died in 2015, aged 95, in the United States. She had spent much of the previous decade at her west Cork home, Lugdine Park, near Glengarriff. She was best known for playing the role of Mary Kate Danaher opposite John Wayne in the role of Sean Thornton in The Quiet Man (1952), a film regarded by many as a great cinema classic and by others as the epitome of stage-Irish kitsch. She appeared in more than 60 films and was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2014.
Sheppard’s said the top lot among her jewellery is an 18ct white gold ring with a round, brilliant-cut 8.30ct diamond and baguette diamond shoulders estimated at €80,000-€120,000. An 18ct white gold 10ct diamond necklace (€10,000-€15,000) comes with a silver-framed photograph of O’Hara wearing the piece.
But there is likely to be even more interest in the emeralds worn by a woman who was famous for her fiery red hair and green eyes. A lavish set of a diamond and emerald necklace and earrings is estimated at €40,000-€60,000. The necklace is set with seven natural pear-shaped emeralds (with a combined weight in excess of 15cts ) surrounded with round brilliant-cut diamonds (with a combined weight in excess of 8cts). The 18ct white gold earrings are set with two large pear-shaped emeralds (weighing in excess of 28cts) surrounded by round brilliant cut diamonds.
Other jewellery highlights include an 18ct yellow and white gold pendant with a 26ct Colombian emerald and diamonds (€40,000-€60,000); a gold bangle with a 27ct Colombian emerald and diamonds (€40,000-€60,000); and a ruby and diamond necklace (€5,000-€8,000).
Bidders on tighter budgets might like a piece of O’Hara’s costume jewellery – a crystal emerald necklace has a modest estimate of €400-€600 and comes with a photograph of her wearing it. However, it should be borne in mind that many items with low estimates in the New York auction sold for multiples of the estimates. For example, a group of nine pieces of costume jewellery including two Tara brooches – with a top estimate of $600 – sold for $5,625.
Sheppard's said the collection would also include various items of clothing owned by O'Hara including silk scarves by Hermès and other makers, evening gowns and jackets and fur coats. The most opulent item is a full-length, silk-lined white mink coat trimmed with Arctic fox fur by the French couturier Christian Dior with an estimate of €3,000-€5,000. A brown sable fur coat, with a label from Sam Rone, the famous Parisian furriers at Rue du Faubourg St Honoré in the 8th arrondissement, is estimated at €4,000-€6,000.
More affordable items include a midnight blue silk evening dress by Nettie Rosenstein (the American fashion designer best-known for supplying Mamie Eisenhower's inauguration ball gown in 1953, when her husband Dwight became president) estimated at just €100-€150.
Other interesting lots include a silver cigarette case bearing the initials "W.P.", O'Hara's second husband, Will Price (she was married three times) – and inscribed "Will from Maureen 6-5-40" (€300-€500).
An Yves Saint Laurent leather shoulder bag is estimated at €200-€300. O’Hara may have been rich and famous but she still counted her pennies. Sheppard’s said the bag still “contained 32p in old Irish coins”.