Earlier this week, Sotheby's auctioned off nearly 1,000 items from the estate of socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor (she of the famously monstrous son). Because rich people's used items are worth even more than other rich people think they are, the sale pulled in millions more than expected—almost twice as much, in fact—for a grand total of $18.8M. Now that the auctioneer's gavel has dropped, let's all gawp in astonishment at how much rich people are willing to pay for some truly weird second-hand junk:
(Note: All the proceeds went to Astor's favorite charities.)
What is it? "FIVE CHINESE GLAZED BISCUIT MODELS OF SQUASH
QING DYNASTY, 19TH CENTURY"
What is it really? A mad-lib made ceramic: "The artist sat down at his worktable and quickly rendered five [nationality] [type of donut] [food] models of [vegetable]."
How much is it worth? $1,500 - 2,500
How much did a rich person pay for it? $9,375
What could I have done with it? Halloween is just around the corner; in a pinch, these five Chinese glazed biscuit models of squash could serve as spooky jack-o'-lanterns lighting the way for neighborhood children as they scamper up to the unattended bowl of LifeSavers you left on your porch.
What is it? "A GROUP OF ASSORTED STAFF UNIFORMS"
(approx. 25, including tailcoats, jackets, vests, shirts, and trousers)
What is it really? Old poor people clothes
How much is it worth? $250 - $350
How much did a rich person pay for it? $7,500
What could I have done with it? Even taking into account the aucion house's note that some of the pieces have spot stains and are missing buttons, these servants' uniforms are probably way nicer than any clothing you will ever own. You could have adopted them as your new fall wardrobe and been king of your neighborhood. You could also have turned your home into your own personal Downton Abbey, assuming you could have convinced your spouse and children to wear these (and serve you faithfully).
What is it? "AMERICAN OR CONTINENTAL SCHOOL, 19/20TH CENTURY PASTEL ON PAPER"
What is it really? An okay drawing I did of a Norfolk terrier one day when I was bored
How much is it worth? $800 – 1,200
How much did a rich person pay for it? $8,125
What could I have done with it? Written a grocery list on the back.
What is it? "PORTRAIT OF A CHILD WITH A RED SQUIRREL"
What is it really? Vegas Baby Lets Squirrel Eat Food Off Its Dirty Dress: A Portrait
How much is it worth? $12,000 - $18,000
How much did a rich person pay for it? $17,500 (one of the rare items that went for less than the maximum price)
What could I have done with it? Hung it in your kitchen and gotten a million compliments. Look how cool this painting is. This baby is rocking not only a large feather headdress, but also a giant gold pendant from the Flavor Flav school of adornment. Best of all, there's a little red squirrel eating nuts from her lap. He's even got a teeny tiny leash. THAT SHE'S HOLDING WITH HER THUMB. What?!
What is it? "A LARGE GROUP OF MISCELLANEOUS BOOKS RELATED TO ART AND ARCHITECTURE"
What is it really? Intro to Art History books you bought sophomore year and could never bring yourself to throw away.
How much is it worth? $1,500 – 2,000
How much did a rich person pay for it? $17,500
What could I have done with it? Set aside an hour every week to read about the history of art so that you might learn to appreciate more fully the beauty you take for granted every day. Just playin'. Burned them for fuel during End Times.
What is it? "TWO UNUSUAL CHINESE FAMILLE-ROSE GILT DECORATED BOXES AND COVERS QIANLONG MARK AND PERIOD"
What is it really? Crazyboxes
How much is it worth? $10,000 - $15,000
How much did a rich person pay for it? $494,500, I repeat, four hundred ninety four thousand, five hundred fucking dollars
What could I have done with it? The crazyboxes are molded to look like bundles of ten firecrackers that have been secured by a sash tied in a bow. They be a good place to store firecrackers (small), jellybeans (all sizes), or little pieces of house detritus that you find on the floor but cannot identify.
What is it? LARGE GROUP OF MISCELLANEOUS NOVELS Including Shel Silversein's The Giving Tree
What is it really? The Giving Tree plus a John Updike book and probably a couple (thousand) Sweet Valley High novels
How much is it worth? $200-300
How much did a rich person pay for it? $5,313
What could I have done with it? Taught a child to be selfish and thankless.
What is it? "THREE DOG-THEMED TABLE ARTICLES, 20TH CENTURY"
What is it really? a magnifying glass, a little box, and an even littler box
How much is it worth? $600-900
How much did a rich person pay for it? $3,125
What could I have done with it? Left them out on a table for a dog to notice.