Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction

Patrick Swayze’s G-string, Churchill’s half-smoked cigar, and a sample book of burial monuments

Lot 1: Crazy for Swayze

Courtesy of Julien’s Auctions

It would be possible, perhaps even desirable, to devote this entire column to the “Property from the Estate of Patrick Swayze,” to be offered by Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles on April 28. Swayze, the heartthrob who danced his way onto the screen in the ’80s and ’90s, was, it turns out, a real man’s man. His estate is teeming with saddles and guns (he was born in Houston), cigar paraphernalia, skydiving equipment, plus a Harley Davidson and a DeLorean. He made his Hollywood debut in Skatetown U.S.A. in 1979 and followed it up with the 1983 cult classic, The Outsiders, starring alongside Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, and Rob Lowe. Then came a string of hunky roles, the best known of which are Dirty Dancing (1987), Road House (1989), Ghost (1990), and Point Break (1991).

Speaking of string, one of the auction’s eye-openers is Swayze’s set-worn, Willing & Able brand G-string, of which a photo was sadly not furnished (see lot 169 in the catalog). He donned the provocative garment in Keeping Mum (2005), a British comedy starring Maggie Smith. The estimate is a mere $200–400.

Courtesy of Julien’s Auctions

Those who may have watched Dirty Dancing — say, 251 times — in their youth will be elated to learn that, for $4,000–6,000, they can buy the black leather motorcycle jacket Swayze (as Johnny Castle) sports when he utters one of the most famous lines in movie history: “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” Swoon!

Others might be stoked to see the actor’s surf stuff for sale, particularly the Spyder board likely used in the night surfing scene in Point Break. The board is inscribed to Swayze from its designer. It, too, is estimated to bring in $4,000+.

Lot 2: A Slightly Used Cigar

On a list of the “Top 100 Cigar Smokers of the Twentieth Century,” Winston Churchill secured first place, a tribute we might now consider passé in the smoke-free twenty-first century. It is guessed that the former British prime minister enjoyed eight to ten cigars per day, so it’s no small wonder that several have turned up at auction over the years, some untouched, some chewed, and some half-smoked.

Courtesy of Halls

Lot 747, consigned to a two-day country house sale at Halls in Shrewsbury, England, on April 26 and 27, is of the latter variety. Apparently Churchill took a few puffs from it in Paris on May 11, 1947. “He stubbed out the cigar in an ashtray after boarding the plane and it was taken into protective custody by Corporal William Alan Turner,” said auctioneer Andrew Beeston. “The cigar remained in late Corporal Turner’s possession and must have been a topic of conversation for many years. Had it not been half smoked by the great man, the value would have been much less and the photograph supports the provenance.”

Yes, Churchill’s gummed cigars raise more at auction than the un-gummed. One pre-smoked specimen sold for £2,000 ($2,478) in 2015, and Halls expects this one to match or best that result.

Lot 3: Real Estate Futures

Planning for retirement is a two-part process: 1) peruse a Florida real estate guide, and 2) flip through a salesman’s sampler of headstones and mausoleums. This one, containing 95 photographs of cemetery structures from the Raymond Granite Company, c. 1930, can help one select a final, final resting place. Simple slab? Or something more ornate, like the tomb pictured below.

Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

Amongst an eclectic auction of photographs and photobooks at Swann Galleries in New York on April 20 — featuring, it should be noted, a cache of fin-de-siècle porn — this delightfully morbid group of photos may reach $1,800–2,200.

Rebecca Rego Barry is the author of Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places.