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Legendary Cartoonist Al Hirschfeld's Art and Memorabilia Heads to Auction

By Amy Zimmer | June 8, 2011 7:17pm

By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

MANHATTAN — Artwork, memorabilia, books and furniture from the legendary theater cartoonist Al Hirschfeld's Upper East Side townhouse and studio will be auctioned off by Doyle New York on June 22, the auctioneer said Wednesday.

A rare copy of "Harlem as Seen by Hirschfeld" from 1941, the caricaturist's opera glasses, a penlight he used while sketching during performances and an easel and drafting table from his studio are among the sale's highlights.

The auction will also include Hirschfeld's work from other collections: an image of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in "Casablanca," Marilyn Monroe in "The Seven Year Itch" and Audrey Hepburn in "Breakast at Tiffany's," among others.

Phil Straus photo of Al Hirschfeld up for auction at Doyle New York. Estimate $100-200.
Phil Straus photo of Al Hirschfeld up for auction at Doyle New York. Estimate $100-200.
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courtesy of Doyle New York

Hirschfeld passed away in 2003 at the age of 99. His colorful home and studio at 122 East 95th St. was sold last month for a reported $5.31 million after hitting the market in February for $5.295 million.

Hirschfeld's family arrived in New York when he was 12. He lived in Washington Heights, took classes at the National Academy on the Upper East Side and played sandlot ball with a young Lou Gehrig.

He published his first caricature in 1925 but left for Paris six months later where he had a studio for eight years.

It was in the City of Lights in 1926 when a likeness of the French actor Sacha Guitry he doodled on his program during a performance ended up in the Herald Tribune's Drama section.

That began his association with newspapers in addition to the film studios, magazines, book publishers and record labels he drew for.

Hirschfeld became an icon for immortalizing other luminaries in theater, television, movies, music, sports and politics. He was a true Broadway figure — and the only artist with a theater named in his honor — who became friends with the likes of Arthur Miller, Eugene O'Neill and George and Ira Gershwin.

"When Al Hirschfeld did a drawing of a celebrity, it often looked more like the person than the person did. That's our goal in animation," Brad Bird, director of the animated film "Ratatouille," once said.

The public can view Doyle New York's Al Hirschfeld exhibition June 18 through June 21 at 175 East 87th St.