Apr 20, 2022 - Things to Do

RBG's personal items are up for auction in D.C.

"RBG," by artist Eleanor Davis, hung in the justice's chambers. Photo courtesy The Potomack Company
"RBG," by artist Eleanor Davis, hung in the justice's chambers. Photo courtesy of The Potomack Company

Works by Picasso, a mink coat, artwork of herself, and a drawing by her grandson are all part of a collection of items once owned by late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and being auctioned by an Alexandria auction house.

What's happening: The Potomack Company opened catalogs earlier this month of more than 150 items the late justice kept in her Watergate apartment and court chambers. All proceeds will benefit the Washington National Opera.

After her death in September 2020, Ginsburg’s family contacted the opera about auctioning some of her personal items, says opera director Francesca Zambello.

  • The late justice was a notable fan of the opera and attended every opening night, sitting at an aisle seat close to the stage and usually accompanied by a colleague — most often Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. Zambello considered Ginsburg part of the company.
  • Last year, Ginsburg’s family gifted the opera her personal piano.

What they’re saying: According to Potomack Company owner Elizabeth Wainstein, the auction includes items across varying price points.

  • On the high end, there’s a Picasso plate with a current bid of $13,000. A perhaps more affordable option is a concert poster from a show featuring RBG’s grandson with a current bid of $20.
  • “She had pieces that are appealing to a very diverse community and [the auction] is accessible to everyone. So, that's been the message that she sent in her legal career, that everyone has a place at the table,” Wainstein says.

The bottom line: The first auction, which will include Ginsburg’s art collection, is open until April 27. The second auction, featuring items from Ginsburg’s home and office, is open until April 28.

A Picasso plate
Picasso's Jacqueline au Chevalet. Photo courtesy of the Potomack Company.
A bronze child
Bronze figurine by Glenna Goodacre, who also designed the Vietnam Women's Memorial. Photo courtesy of the Potomack Company.
Picasso
Picasso's Vallauris. Photo courtesy of the Potomack Company.
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