FROM PIPES TO CARS, FANS OF BING CROSBY BUY PIECES OF HIS LIFE
Published: May 30, 1982
SAN FRANCISCO, May 29— Bing Crosby fans, from as far afield as Europe and Australia, gathered at an auction house here Friday to bid on 1,400 lots of the late singer's possessions, including his pipes, his golf clubs, pocket watches, gold clips and some of his shirts, ties and socks.
The memorabilia auction was the finale of a four-day sale of some of Mr. Crosby's possessions, held at Butterfield's, one of the city's oldest and most famous auction houses. The items included his 1967 silver gray Aston Martin, with only 2,700 miles on the odometer, which was sold for $15,000, and his desk, which went for $1,800.
A spokesman for Butterfield's said the Crosby furniture, jewelry and paintings had sold for $120,000, and that the total for the memorabilia sale was at least $300,000.
''I bought two of Bing's watches, but I'd rather not disclose how much I paid for them,'' said Gerald Rand, 56 years old, who said that he had been a fan of Mr. Crosby's for 45 years and had come from England for the auction. ''Whatever I paid for them, I would have paid 10 times as much.'' Five Years to Reach Decision
Mrs. Crosby, the singer's wife for almost 20 years, has attended every day of the sale. She held a buffet lunch for bidders on Friday. In an interview, Mrs. Crosby said that it took her five years to decide to sell her husband's possessions after he died of a heart attack in Spain in 1977 at the age of 73.
When Mr. Crosby was alive, the family had six homes in which to house their possessions, in Los Angeles; Elko, Nev.; Hayden Lake, Idaho; Pebble Beach and Palm Springs, Calif., and in Mexico. Over the years the houses were sold, but ''the furniture remained with us always,'' Mrs. Crosby said.
Now, she said, she was pleased that her late husband's fans ''will be able to have a little part of him.'' Not all of his fans agreed with Mrs. Crosby. ''I'm not in sympathy with this auction,'' said Anne Gunn, a member of the Bing's Friends and Collectors Society, a group of 40 people who live in Menlo Park, near Mrs. Crosby's residence. ''I don't want to contribute to Mrs. Crosby's estate even though I like to listen to her husband's records.'' Mrs. Crosby Is Also Spending
The Crosby possessions were sold along with other items at the auction house, and on Thursday Mrs. Crosby said she had spent on a ''two to one'' basis more than she had earned at the sale. Among the things she had purchased were a pair of ornate lapis lazuli and bronze columns, dating from from early 19th century. According to Arlene Horowitz, a spokesman for Butterfield's, the columns brought $85,000.
Not all the items reached the minimum selling price set by Mrs. Crosby, who has not disclosed what she would do with the money. A man bid $290,000 for a painting by Sir Alfred Munnings called ''On The Moor,'' a hunting scene, and Mrs. Crosby had wanted $300,000. The painting was not sold.
Responding to accusations from some of Mr. Crosby's friends that it was not in good taste for her to sell her husband's possessions, Mrs. Crosby said, ''As Bing used to sing, 'You've either got or you haven't got style.' And if you look at his ties up for auction, you'll see who didn't have style.''