Harper Lee's Private Letters Don't Sell at Auction, With Apparently No One Willing to Shell Out The Cash
On Friday, six of celebrated author Harper Lee's private letters went up for auction, and it was supposed to be huge — but unfortunately, it was a huge disappointment. Lee's private letters didn't sell at auction, which exactly zero people would have predicted. Seriously. These letters were expected to go for more than $300,000 and had been valued at $150,000 to $250,000 by Christie's.
According to a spokeswoman for the auction house, bidding stopped at $90,000 when it became apparent that there was no buyer. I've never been to a live auction, but I can only imagine how awkward it must get when no one raises a paddle for the item on the block. Of course, pity bids probably aren't a thing, because who wants to be out $90,000 for an item they weren't that into?
What's so shocking, though, is just that: Apparently, none of the attendees were that into the letters. Book collectors (or at least those who can afford to be) are usually all about rare literary items like these. An inscribed first edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit just sold for about $209,000, for example. The typed letters by Lee offer an extremely rare look into the bestselling author's private thoughts, both before and after her American classic To Kill a Mockingbird was published. On top of that, the literary world has been abuzz since news broke that a Mockingbird sequel is coming. With all the hype over Go Set a Watchman, it seemed like the perfect time to auction off any Lee memorabilia.
Alas. Fans might not have been jumping out of their seats to bid on her letters, but Lee can console herself knowing that they have been pre-ordering her upcoming book in droves.