André Leon Talley’s personal collection sold for millions. How Durham church will benefit

The fashion sale of the century just wrapped up in New York City, and Durham is going to benefit from it.

A collection of rare and custom-made clothing and other luxury items belonging to the late fashion icon André Leon Talley was auctioned off this week, bringing in over $3.5 million.

Proceeds from the dazzling collection of Talley’s trademark kingly capes, caftans, jewelry, and farther exceeded the estimated values that were given by Christie’s Auction House. The online auction of 350 items and a separate live auction of 66 items were both held in New York City.

The Durham native, one of the world’s top fashion editors and critics, died in January 2022 at the age of 73. His will stipulated that proceeds of his coveted collection be split among two historically Black churches.

One of those is Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, where Talley could be found most Sundays as a young boy.

The rest is going to the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City, one of the oldest African-American churches in the U.S.

“He left a very clear will,” the executor of Talley’s estate told The New York Times in January.

The live auction was held on Feb. 15, which was coincidentally named “André Leon Talley Day” in 2019 in Durham by former Mayor Steve Schewel.

Mt. Sinai did not respond to The News & Observer’s request for comment.

The auction included the sale of his brick-red sleeping bag coat by American designer Norma Kamali.

The comforter-like coat was made even more famous in the days leading up to the auction as it was reported to be the inspiration for Rihanna’s red puffer coat worn during her 57th Super Bowl halftime show. After the Super Bowl performance, Talley’s Instagram page posted a photo of Talley in the coat alongside several photos and videos of Rihanna on stage.

“When the sun shines, we’ll shine together. Told you I’ll be here forever … said I’ll always be your friend,’” the post read, quoting Rihanna’s song, “Umbrella.”

Christie’s estimated its value at $500 to $800, but it went for over $25,000, according to the auction site.

Two pieces of art by Talley’s personal friend Andy Warhol netted some of the largest sales in the auction. One is a small canvas painting of a candy box that reads “TRUE LOVE.” The other is a screenprint mixed-media collage of former Vogue editor Diana Vreeland atop a horse, mimicking a painting of Napoleon Bonaparte, which was dedicated to Talley.

The third item was a set of three Louis Vuitton trunks personalized with Talley initials.

The three lots were sold for $94,500 each.

André Leon Talley, the Durham native

Born in 1948 and raised in Durham by his grandmother, Talley’s dreams would take him far beyond the confines of racial segregation in Durham.

After graduating from Hillside High School and North Carolina Central University, he fulfilled his aspirations and became a longtime creative director and editor for Vogue.

He was glued to that magazine as a young man, which he would buy with quarters on Duke University’s East Campus.

His editorial career began in 1975 and included stops at Vanity Fair, Warhol’s Interview magazine, and Women’s Wear Daily. He was the first Black man to be a creative director of Vogue.

The fashion icon never forgot his roots and visited North Carolina often. In 2019, Talley returned to Hillside High School, The N&O reported.

©2023 Raleigh News & Observer. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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