George Gershwin Portrait & Letters, ca. 1935
Appraised Value: $7,000 - $7,200
IMAGE: 1 of 6
Appraisal Video: (2:41)
Books & Manuscripts
Senior Vice President & Senior Specialist, Rare Books and Manuscripts
APPRAISER: You have some very interesting documents. They document a rather unusual relationship between the great composer George Gershwin and Jane, your mother.
APPRAISER: How did they meet?
GUEST: They met on a cruise on the Volendam in 1932.
APPRAISER: And they found each other quite interesting. A real friendship seems to have developed. And one of the indications or results of that is his portrait drawing showing your mother. You see examples from time to time, mostly of friends and acquaintances. He enjoyed doing portraits. And attached with it we have a small photo that shows your mother Jane and George Gershwin standing side by side. We have some other documents that are part of the story, including this letter, which has, unfortunately, a little section cut out. We're not sure why.
GUEST: Don't know why.
APPRAISER: Maybe to hide a postscript or something. But it's an interesting letter. It says, "You were very sweet to write me a letter of congratulations on the opening of Porgy and Bess." Porgy and Bess, of course, being his best-known musical composition.
APPRAISER: Really a masterpiece. And here's the signature, just "George," with a big flourish. Then there's another letter, handwritten this time, rather than typed, where he says, "I shall try my best to get you two tickets for the opening, but on account of a thousand requests, I can't promise them." And this is the signature page from that letter. And you can see what an attractive signature Gershwin had. And the sad thing is, George Gershwin did not live long after their friendship developed.
GUEST: No, not at all.
APPRAISER: And it's sort of rounded out by this rather sad printed notification. The drawing of your mother, probably done on shipboard, I would price at $2,500 for auction purposes. The letter with an unfortunate clip, a bit lower, say $1,500, because it mentions Porgy and Bess.
APPRAISER: This handwritten letter, I would value that at about $2,500. And the sad condolence card, maybe $500 to $700. So all in all, a nice little grouping.
GUEST: Thank you.
APPRAISER: You're welcome.
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