Anthony Bourdain Auction: More Information

September 18, 2019

By Karen

OCTOBER 3 UPDATE: You can now preview photos of everything up for auction and see opening bids at iGavelAuctions.

Two hundred-fifteen items from Anthony Bourdain’s estate will be auctioned online October 9-30 by Lark Mason Associates on their website, iGavelAuctions. Items may be previewed beginning October 2.

People.com reproduced many of the photos The New York Times (subscription only) ran of some items believed to be most grabby for Bourdain’s fans, including his writing desk, a jacket he was given by the Navy when he was rescued from Beirut in 2006, and a chef’s knife made especially for him in South America in 2016.

During the auction period, Lark Mason will have some of the items on exhibit in the firm’s offices in New York; New Braunfels, Texas; and Savannah, Georgia.

It’s being widely reported that 40% of the proceeds will fund the Anthony Bourdain Legacy Scholarship at his alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America. Barron’s added that this honor was established “in partnership with chefs Eric Ripert and José Andrés in June.”

The remainder of the proceeds will go to Bourdain’s estate.

Lark Mason estimates the market value of the items to be between $200,000 and $400,000. I personally think we’re looking at a sale that will easily fetch seven figures.

I’ve learned from a trusted source that many of the items were selected because Bourdain acquired them after he separated from his wife Ottavia in 2016. They have little sentimental value for his family nor associations with his life as a husband and father.

The item that stands out to me is the creepy painting Tony bought a week before he died titled, The sky is falling. I am learning to live with it, by John Lurie.

Tony visited the artist at his home for the Lower East Side New York episode, which was the last aired Parts Unknown. Lurie made Tony two hard-boiled eggs. Tony’s assistant Laurie Woolever revealed to the NYT that Tony paid $19,000 for that painting.

Here’s the brief list of items with estimated values the iGavel site provides…

  • Brad Phillips (Canadian), Cristine and Me as Still-Life, oil on canvas, 2016 ($2,000-$4,000)
  • John Lurie (American, b. 1952), This Party Sucks, watercolor on paper ($1,000-$2,000)
  • Peter Lovig Nielsen teak flip-top desk, Denmark, 20th century ($800-$1,200)
  • Custom Bob Kramer steel and meteorite chef’s knife ($4,000-$6,000)
  • Chrome duck press from the Paris episode of The Layover ($200-$300)
  • Vietnamese blue-and-white ceramic tall bottle form vase, with cover ($250-$450)
  • Original typed manuscript or early draft for A Bone in the Throat ($700-$1,000)
  • Simpsons script for Bourdain episode, “The Food Wife,” with signed inscriptions to Bourdain ($800-$1200)

I have been able to obtain another partial, but more extensive, list. Here are some small items Cats Working readers might be interested in bidding on…

  • White chef jacket
  • Zippo lighter engraved, “No Reputations. Desert Special 2011”
  • Art pottery ceramic green umbrella stand
  • Framed photo and note from Billy Joel to Bourdain, dated 2005
  • Molded glass ceiling light fixture
  • Two dark blue ceramic lamps

Art will figure prominently. The titles of works Bourdain collected say a lot. Here are more…

  • Phillips, Eat, Pray, Get the Fuck Out, watercolor on paper
    • Tan Lines in March, watercolor on paper, 2013
    • Just Jumping, oil on canvas
  • Lurie, The Judge was hypnotized by alcohol, jet print on rag paper
  • Ralph Steadman (British, b. 1936), Rats in the Kitchen, artist’s proof inscribed to Bourdain, 2009
    • Hunter S. Thompson, Twisted Meat Artist, artist’s proof
    • The Brain of Hunter Thompson, silkscreen, artist’s proof
  • Etching, Street View from Saigon, and a print of Angkor Wat Ruin
  • Les Ruines d’Angkor, Indochine, modern
  • African carved wood and metal ritual figure, Congo
  • Nepalese carved and lacquered wood mask, and a Tibetan silver decorated animal skull

There’s also some furniture, ostensibly from his last apartment in the Time Warner Center because the pieces are all dated 2016, including…

  • Shell Lake Woodcrafters Sap soft maple black shelf or media center
  • Stickley Mission Style one drawer nightstand
  • Stickley tall bookcase

And a wood vanity with drawers and mirror, a tall mahogany dresser, a walnut credenza, and a small red and black low table.

My list also has seven sets of cuff links and three watches, including a Rolex and a pocket watch.

I’m told this is by no means the entirety of Anthony Bourdain’s possessions, regardless of media reports about how sparingly he collected things. The bulk of his belongings are still in his estate’s custody.

However, what the family is parting with will allow future culinary students to travel and study abroad and give Bourdain’s fans who wish to do so an opportunity to purchase material things that he touched and which touched his life.

Advertisements

Cats Working Says Good-Bye to Adele

September 16, 2019

By Karen

I’m deeply saddened to report that Adele passed away on Thursday, September 12. She was 19 years and 5 months old, the last of the original Cats Working team who inspired my book, How to Work Like a CAT.

Without missing a beat in her routine until the very end, Adele became yet another victim of chronic renal failure, which she lived with for over two years. In her lifetime, she watched four “brothers” who were her world also succumb to CRF — Rex, Fred, Yul, and Cole.

Adele and Yul

This past spring, Adele also began developing a tumor on her neck. It didn’t hurt or bother her and seemed comparatively the least of her ailments, so she didn’t undergo any aggressive diagnosis or treatment for it.

Cole and Adele

Adele drove the daily agenda around here until her days slowly became more bad than good. When most foods lost their appeal (and we tried them ALL) and her meds weren’t helping, and even sleep didn’t bring much relief, we knew it was time to let her go while she still had her dignity. Her death was very peaceful.

Max and Roc are adjusting like a couple of rebels without causes to the newly quiet house and Adele’s empty favorite spots. They’re facing life for the first time since kittenhood without their etiquette coach and disciplinarian. They are better cats thanks to Adele’s tough love.

Max and Adele shared a bed

I’m missing my Delly so much, feeling the weight of accumulated grief from losing another decades-long companion to a scourge of epidemic proportions that veterinary medicine inexplicably seems to NEVER make any headway against. It’s taken me days to bring myself to write this and I’m in tears as I type.

Roc and Adele


Book Review – Anthony Bourdain: The Last Interview

September 9, 2019

By Karen

I read The Last Interview, a 109-page trade paperback, in two sittings over the weekend. I believe it’s the 23rd installment in a series about deceased writers, musicians and celebrities.

It begins with an introduction by food writer Helen Rosner about how she discovered Bourdain and eventually got to know him personally. They were in touch right up to his death, and she never got to respond to his last note.

It’s unclear if she selected the seven interviews in the book, arranged chronologically from 2003, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, January 2018, and finally June 3, 2018, the last Sunday he was alive.

Quick digression on production quality. This book isn’t going to age well in your Bourdain collection. It’s printed on that coarse, cheap paper that yellows. And I wonder about the editing. Some chapters are transcripts of live appearances, and I was surprised to find typos like “Namimbia” and “Columbia” (the latter misspelled four times).

During a 2011 appearance in Sydney, Tony said about his daughter Ariane, “I don’t want her reading terrible shit about me on the internet, behaving badly toward women, for instance. I’m not going to do that.”

I just shook my head, thinking, “No, Tony, you did something much, much worse.”

As a Bourdain watcher since 2007, I didn’t really learn anything new about him here. The most notable bit for me was when Tony mentioned in his 2013 interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson the Roman condiment garam. He described it as “essentially rotten fish guts and rotten fish sauce,” and said it was as ubiquitous a seasoning in Europe as salt is to us. If he’s ever mentioned garam on TV, I missed it, and it was another example of his encyclopedic mind.

January 2018 is a transcript of Bourdain on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. That might have been the last time I saw Tony alive in real time. He seemed in good spirits, saying, “I’m an enthusiastic son of a bitch.”

In hindsight, we know he was then embroiled in trying to extricate his girlfriend Asia Argento from charges of allegedly raping a 17-year-old boy. You may refresh on the timeline of that in this archived post.

The last chapter is an interview with IndieWire, which was published on June 3, a Sunday. Parts Unknown Hong Kong first aired on CNN that night. It was also the weekend Argento cavorted around Rome for the paparazzi with Hugo Clement.

Obviously unaware he was being betrayed as he spoke, Tony raved about working with Argento on Hong Kong, which she supposedly directed. “My god, I’d love nothing more than to repeat the experience. She made it incredible.”

In other interviews, he’d called that shoot some of his best work. It’s become one of CNN’s “lost” episodes because they no longer rerun any Parts Unknown Argento was involved with.

Bourdain went on about Argento: “She listens to my advice and frequently if not most of the time, rejects it. That is something Asia cannot help but do. She is brutally honest about herself and anything, and it’s a great quality.”

I just about gagged on that paragraph. And when I turned the page and realized that was the last line in the book, my jaw dropped. It felt like the editor deliberately left readers to wonder, was Bourdain really that deluded or just lying? We still don’t know.

You can read that particular interview at IndieWire.

On Tuesday, June 5, Bourdain, while filming in France, would see the photos of Argento with Hugo. We’ve heard only unverified stories about arguments, and Eric Ripert told Tony’s mother Tony had been in a “dark mood,”

On Friday, June 8, Ripert found Tony dead in his hotel room of apparent suicide.

Personally, for the foreseeable future I’ll buy any book about or by Bourdain. Fingers crossed he left something more to publish. But I’d say go ahead if you want to give The Last Interview a miss. Reams of more illuminating interviews are available online.

For example, I was surprised that “Bourdain Confidential” in Popula from February 2018 with Maria Bustillos wasn’t included.

Or even better, you can just reread the books Bourdain wrote before his life took that last fatal turn.


Gordon Ramsay Couldn’t Shake Bourdain’s Shadow

September 4, 2019

By Karen

Gordon Ramsay’s first season of Uncharted recently wrapped on National Geographic. On the NatGeo site you can watch his travels to Peru, New Zealand, Morocco, Laos, Hawaii and Alaska. The reviews were not positive, usually comparing Ramsay unfavorably to Anthony Bourdain.

Ramsay has been my guilty pleasure for years, though I admit he’s not for everybody.

He shows (I hope) his nice side on MasterChef Junior with adorably precocious kids. On adult MasterChef, the withering insults flow, but he leaves the heaviest dickishness to fellow judge Joe Bastianich.

I love Hell’s Kitchen when Ramsay, in bleep-filled fury, strips culinary bozos of their delusions of competence. He’s similar on 24 Hours to Hell and Back, trying to save failing restaurants by berating and humiliating the owners in front of their customers. I was also a fan of Kitchen Nightmares and Hotel Hell. Not so much The F Word.

Bottom line: I’ve seen a lot of Gordon Ramsay. Uncharted was something else.

Ramsay denies ripping off the Bourdain formula, saying he got the idea in Cambodia during a 2004 visit. But comparison was inevitable because both men’s series focused on travel and food. Ramsay’s big twist was his trademark move: turning the food into a competition with a tight deadline.

Ramsay’s mission was to learn as much as he could about the place’s cuisine in a week, then to prepare a feast against a local chef, with invited guests blindly choosing which dishes they preferred.

To make it a “fair fight,” Ramsay gave himself the disadvantage of cooking outdoors with unfamiliar ingredients. He always managed to create something edible, but his dishes weren’t always the favorites. His willingness to come in second showed, at least, an attempt to be humble.

To develop his menu, Ramsay roamed around and had people show him where ingredients such as eels, ants, beetles, grubs, plants growing on cliff sides, fish and game were sourced. Gathering them was often physically grueling, showcasing that 52-year-old Ramsay works out a lot.

What Uncharted never showed was Ramsay strolling through city or village markets, looking effortlessly chic and cool in a rumpled shirt and jeans.

Also missing was the stunning cinematography that Bourdain’s Zero Point Zero film crew had honed to Emmy quality. Uncharted captured what it needed of Ramsay, but any tourist could have shot the uninspired B-roll.

Another glaring omission for Bourdain-spoiled viewers was compelling narrative. Ramsay’s voiceover was often nicely self-deprecating, but light on wit and insight.

Ramsay did break new ground by introducing the Ugly American’s cousin — the Ugly Scot. He mocked locals for going to extremes to snag ingredients. He spit out what he was served a lot. Apparently not a drinker, he missed those opportunities to bond with his hosts, settling instead for a quick sip of the local brew, then insulting it with a puckered face.

Most irritating to me were Ramsay’s ever-present deadlines, which he enlisted everyone into helping him meet.

“I want to hear all about your history, your culture and your cooking techniques, but I’ve got this feast to prepare in the morning, so chop-chop!”

Bourdain had a production schedule, but I can’t recall ANY meal in ANY of his series where he ever made his hosts feel like he didn’t have all day or night to spend with them, eating, drinking, just shooting the shit and enjoying himself.

If Gordon Ramsay accomplished anything with Uncharted, it was to unwittingly remind us of the extraordinary soul we lost with Bourdain’s passing.


%d bloggers like this: