Posted by: Sonali Velinker Kamat on December 02, 2014
The estate of philanthropist Bunny Mellon proves that simplicity is luxury at its finest…
From Rajesh Khanna’s sea-facing bungalow in Mumbai to Van Gogh’s still life titled ‘Vase with Daisies and Poppies,’ 2014 has seen the sale of many items of value. While both purchases attracted attention for their buyers — a Mr. Shashi Shetty and a Chinese tycoon by the name of Wang Zhongjun respectively — no auction captured our fancy more than the recent Sotheby’s offering from the estate of American heiress and philanthropist Rachel Lambert ‘Bunny’ Mellon.
From furniture and jewellery to art and fashion accessories, the November 2014 auction was a tribute to true taste.
“Nothing should be noticed,” is Bunny Mellon’s most quoted pronouncement, made to The New York Times in 1969, in one of the few interviews she ever gave. Indeed, her estate proved to personify the statement — the defining characteristics of almost all Bunny’s belongings were balance, proportion, appropriateness and a lack of ostentation. This incredible simplicity is what prompted Guy Trebay at The New York Times to write: “It is a luxury only the truly rich can afford, of course, perhaps the greatest one,” going on to recap the telling tale of Bunny Mellon’s countless Christian Dior handbags: “Most handbags in the auction fasten with wreath-shaped clasps of the yellow gold Mrs. Mellon preferred for all her jewellery; they were designed by Mr. Schlumberger. Much of the hardware on each of the handbags, including the zipper pulls, is also cast in 18-karat gold. But that is not the most notable thing about them. Inside the cover of each bag is a monogram ornament invisible to all but the user; each takes the form of a tiny gold cipher formed from the entwined initials BM.”
In an age when simplicity is being hailed as ‘the new luxury,’ the late Mrs. Mellon posthumously proves one thing: true luxury has always been about simplicity. When you don’t feel the need to show society what you can afford, luxury elevates itself to a rarefied space in which you can surround yourself not with labels, but with things that you truly love.