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A Few of Van Cliburn's Treasures to be Auctioned by Christies

by Anne Bothwell 26 Apr 2012 12:07 PM

The pianist, and Laura Bush, were among the audience Wednesday night as the auction house previewed the sale.


We all know Van Cliburn traveled the world performing. But as he toured, the pianist was also shopping for things of beauty,  pieces to trigger memories of specific concerts. And now, Christie’s will auction some of the treasures he collected. Last night, the auction house held a preview,  “Van Cliburn: A Lifetime of Collecting. The Texan Who Conquered Russia,” at the Ritz Carlton Residences.

Former First Lady Laura Bush sat next to Cliburn as Christie’s staff showed slides and chatted about the history of some of the 18th and 19th century furniture, silver, jewelry and Russian artwork that he is parting with.

Cliburn chats with Christie’s Capera Ryan about his memories of some of these pieces in this video.  Kind of fun to think about the logistics of hauling around a huge silver tureen on tour, and then using it to serve his mom’s chicken soup.

So how does Cliburn feel about letting go of some items that he so clearly connects with?

“There are two things that can never be destroyed: great music and great memories,” Cliburn says. “Yes I may be parting with some things, but I still see them forever in my home.”

Included in the sale: his mother Rildia Bee’s Steinway piano, which Cliburn practiced on as a child. Proceeds from the sale of the piano will benefit Cliburn’s alma maters, The Julliard School and The Moscow Conservatory.

The auction is May 17 in New York.