‘The Simpsons’ memorabilia, art collection from Sam Simon heading to auction
As one of the co-creators of “The Simpsons,” the late Sam Simon collected his fair share of memorabilia related to the long-running Fox animated comedy. What may be more surprising is that the award-winning TV producer and philanthropist was also an art collector whose tastes encompassed Rodin, Ed Ruscha and pop artist Mel Ramos.
Starting in September, fine art and memorabilia that belonged to Simon will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s in New York. Proceeds from the sales will benefit the Sam Simon Charitable Giving Foundation. A select preview will be held at Sotheby’s Los Angeles on Sept. 16 and 17, and is free and open to the public.
Sotheby’s estimates that the fine art items in the sale will bring in between $7.6 million to $11.3 million.
Simon died in March at his home in Pacific Palisades following a battle with cancer. He was 59. A spokesman for Sotheby’s said that Simon’s trust was consigning the items to auction. The sales will be spread out over several auctions through mid-2016.
An auction on Oct. 22 will be solely dedicated to Simon’s memorabilia, which includes items from the TV shows he worked on. A Simpsons-themed pinball machine is expected to sell for as much as $2,000 while Simon’s personal Simpsons jacket could bring in as much as $800.
Other Simpsons memorabilia to be sold includes an Itchy & Scratchy-themed bag and a Simpsons yarmulke. The memorabilia sale will also include Simon’s comic strip from his student days with the Beverly Hills High School newspaper.
Simon left “The Simpsons” after its fourth season, but his name continued to appear on the show’s credits and he continued receiving royalties. His other TV credits include “The Drew Carey Show,” “Taxi” and “Cheers.”
A centerpiece item from the estate is a Thomas Hart Benton painting, “T.P. and Jake,” depicting a young man with his dog. The artwork, which Sotheby’s said had great personal meaning for Simon, is estimated to sell for between $1.5 million and $2.5 million.
“What’s fascinating to note is that this is such a personal collection,” Andrea Fiuczynski, chairman of Sotheby’s West Coast, said in an interview. She said the Benton painting was emblematic of Simon’s fascination with storytelling, while other pieces show his appreciation for wit and humor.
“Some homes are so overstyled and can be sterile. This was a well-lived in and loved home. There was definitely a continuity of his vision. You really felt his presence.”
Simon was an avid collector of so-called pin-up art -- semi-ironic and sometimes humorous illustrations of nude and scantily clad young women. Ramos’ “Val Veeta” depicts a woman reclining atop a giant box of Kraft Velveeta cheese. Simon also collected pin-up art by Gil Elvgren, Alberto Vargas and Earl Moran.
The auctions will include a Rodin cast depicting Honore de Balzac and an untitled Ruscha work of an elephant’s silhouette on a hillside.
Sotheby’s said there would be a total of 114 fine art lots and more than 250 memorabilia lots up for auction. In addition, the sales will include Simon’s Midcentury furniture, watches, books and manuscripts.
The Sam Simon Charitable Giving Foundation supports causes including animal welfare and poverty and disaster relief.
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