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Over two hundred of Anthony Bourdain’s most cherished belongings are being sold this month—October 9-30, 2019—in an online auction that’s open to everyone who wants to bid. Last night I had the pleasure of seeing some of Anthony (Tony) Bourdain’s personal treasures and visiting with my friend, Lark Mason, the auctioneer for Bourdain’s estate. You may know Lark as the Asian art and antiquities expert on Antiques Roadshow, but Lark is also the owner of one of the premier auction houses in the world, Lark Mason Associates, CEO of iGavel Auctions and President of the Appraiser’s Association of America.

I also spoke with Laurie Woolever, Tony Bourdain’s assistant, gatekeeper, lieutenant, recipe tester, writer, co-author and friend for almost a decade. 

Like everyone who loved Anthony Bourdain, Laurie Woolever is still grieving his loss. “It’s been a really hard year,” Laurie told me. “I would have worked for him forever. I kept growing with him, and he was such a good boss. We had just started another book project which I just finished on my own last week.”

Anthony Bourdain’s Chef’s Coat

Last night Laurie Woolever spoke to the group assembled at Lark Mason Associates’s beautiful gallery in New Braunfels, Texas, and gave us an insight into the man she knew so well. Bourdain was more than a chef and an author. In many ways he was an anthropologist who studied people and cultures by creating a human dialogue through the act of preparing and sharing food. 

“Your body is not a temple: It’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” Anthony Bourdain

African Carved Wood Maternity Figure Bourdain purchased on his travels.

Pre-Columbian Style Pottery Vessel with Stand together with a plastic green fruit and a beaded bracelet.

The “Property from the Collection of Anthony Bourdain” auction shows that Tony loved a well-cut Tom Ford suit and tuxedo, bespoke shoes, Hermes scarves, a great bed, fine watches, spy novels, a simple omelet, odd historical medical instruments and old maps. He loved films, literature, great sharp knives, meaningful mementos of his travels, comedy and dark humor, contemporary art and he never failed to be astonished by his good fortune. 

Brenda Coffee and Laurie Woolever

“Everyday someone tells me something about Tony I didn’t know,” Laurie said. Like the night Tony went to artist, John Lurie’s, apartment. John poured him a glass of apple juice. Tony drank the juice and then he went to the sink, washed the glass and dried it and put it back in the cabinet.

“The journey is part of the experience, an expression of the seriousness of one’s intent. One doesn’t take the A train to Mecca.” Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain’s Peter Lovig Nielsen Teak Flip Top Desk, Denmark, 20th Century

Because Tony Bourdain spent so much time on the road, he wanted his New York apartment to feel like “a hotel that he owned,” preferably the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood. Tony gave Laurie Woolever the task of making that happen. While he was shooting his series, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, Laurie rented Bourdain’s apartment, put it together and ordered the furniture according to his notes. It was a mid-century modern with lots of Stickley pieces, antiques from 1stdibs and his somewhat aggressive pieces of art.

The auction also includes what Tony may have felt to be the crown jewel in his collection: a Bob Kramer knife that took two years from order to getting it into his hand, made from 800 layers of pounded steel and an iron meteorite from Campo de Cielo in South America. Highly coveted knives are not cheap and as Tony told Laurie Woolever, “I might have to go back to working brunch shifts to afford it.”

If you leave a good knife “unloved and unsharpened, bouncing around in a drawer full of old Ginsus and other kitchen crap you’ve accumulated over the years, you will richly deserve the deep, jagged finger wound you will undoubtedly inflict on yourself next time you try to julienne a pepper in a hurry… You might just as well be using a rusted medieval meat ax. If you are incapable of demonstrating pride in your tools, you are incapable as well of making food you can be proud of. It’s that simple. You sin against the kitchen gods. In a perfect world, cooks who abuse fine cutlery will be locked in a pillory and pelted with McNuggets.”

Anthony Bourdain’s Duck Press

Tony loved beautiful objects with a singular purpose that are no longer used today, like the 19th-century chrome duck press he acquired in Paris, surely to be one of the auction’s favorite items. It’s featured in the 2012 Paris episode of The Layover The estimated value is $700-$1,000. 

The auction prices have been kept low (his Hermes scarves at $40 and a framed photo and note from Billy Joel to Tony is $50) so everyone who loved Anthony Bourdain will have the opportunity to purchase something of his and know that 40 percent of the proceeds will benefit a scholarship established in his name at The Culinary Institute of America where he graduated in 1978. The rest of the proceeds will go to his estate, primarily his daughter.

Brad Phillips (Canadian), Cristine and Me as Still-Life, Oil on Canvas

You can see all of the “Property from the Collection of Anthony Bourdain” online at where you can also register to bid. 

Three concurrent exhibitions of select items from the collection will be on view at:

  • Lark Mason Associates Gallery, 210 W. Mill St, New Braunfels, Texas, from October 9th through the 30th, 10am to 4pm, weekdays 
  • Lark Mason Associates Gallery, 227 E. 120th St, NYC, from October 9th through the 30th, 10am to 4pm, weekdays 
  • Everard Auctions, 2436 Waters Ave, Savannah, GA, October 15-30. Call (912) 231-1376 for hours.

Brenda Coffee and Lark Mason

Bidding online is easy and fun, plus you can check the progress of the bid prices for each object and change your bid or bid on additional items. First register and set up an account. Bidding starts on October 9th. FYI on October 30th, each lot has its own time that it stops accepting bids, and it’s clearly stated on each lot. For instance, lot #1 closes first at 9am EST, and the last lot closes at 3:42pm EST. This way it’s easier for bidders to keep their eye on the current bids of more than one lot.

The top of the head is hinged and folds back and the sides are rimmed in skulls.

Alexander McQueen Holographic Skull Cufflinks

The toggle clasp on the back of each cufflink is a bone! So cool!

There are a couple of items I may bid on, plus these last two lots with skulls on them I think Keith Richards would like. Good luck bidders!

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    • Hello Paula! How are you my friend with the big green pen? The only one of his books I’ve read is Kitchen Confidential. It’s still on my bedside table, and I often open it at random. It’s always an entertaining read and because he wrote just like he talked, a part of him is still here. xoxox, Brenda

    • Hi Diane! I love auctions as well and online is a great way to see, in real time, what the bids are. And for an adrenaline junkie like me, they’re exciting! xoxox, Brenda

  1. Oh, my gosh! I loved him since the moment I learned about him, and reading Kitchen Confidential clinched it for me! Anthony became my favorite anti-hero. He was inspired and inspiring – both the “wonderful example and the horrible warning!” Thank you for always finding the coolest stuff, Brenda, I can’t wait to go see the exhibit!

    • Then you’ll love the gallery show in New Braunfels and the things online. If you go to the gallery, tell them you’re my friend! If Lark and his wife aren’t there, you might visit with his son Lark III or a young woman named Libby Austin who’s very knowledgeable. AND… you will LOVE the gallery itself. Stop and have a bite to eat at Huisache Grill before you leave. xoxox, Brenda

  2. Being someone who LOVES to cook, he was one of my heroes. Kitchen Confidential was such a great experience. I felt like he was sharing his stories at my kitchen table with a glass of wine in his hand. There is no one who can replace him.
    Good luck with the auction!

    • Barbara, You’re so right… No one can replace him. The food he ate took a backseat to his view of the world and the culture around him. As his friend and assistant, Laurie Woolever, read from some of his writings, she obviously knows the cadence with which he spoke so it was comforting to hear “his voice” again. If you’re an Anthony Bourdain fan, have a go at bidding on something of his. The bids may rise, but the prices start out low. xoxox, Brenda

  3. I loved that man! I’d love to have his chef’s jacket but I’ve never bid on something at an auction and am a little intimidated. Do you have any advice? Barb

    • Hi Barb, First you need to register on the online auction site to be able to bid. You’ll find several links in the first paragraph of my blog. Once you’re on the auction page, you’ll see “My Account” and “Register” in the upper left hand side of the page. After you’re registered you can bid on as many items as you’d like. This particular auction doesn’t start accepting bids until October 9th at 10am EST. Each item or (lot) has an “opening bid” listed which means they won’t accept any amount less than that. If the item you’re interested in has an opening bid of let’s say $50, then you need to decide the most you’re willing to pay for it, but you may not want to place an online bid for that amount right off the bat because more than likely, more people will bid after you and drive the price up. Since the auction is going on until Oct 30th, you can see what the bid price of your item is and change it, if you want, or bid on other lots up until the time the bidding stops, which is also listed on each item. Hope this helps! Good luck!! xoxox, Brenda

  4. Oh Brenda, this column is a terrible disappointment. The man committed suicide and now you’re excitedly writing about being able to buy some of his possessions. Major fail in grace and elegance.

    • Ella, Suicide is a terrible thing. Something even in my darkest moments I wouldn’t do, but I haven’t walked in the shoes of those who have taken their own life. I know A LOT about Anthony Bourdain, his problems and what drove him to that final act that weekend. I would hope we don’t condense and reevaluate him and what he brought to our lives by his suicide. I’ve tried to put myself in his position, and I feel beyond sad for him. Broken hearted and angry, actually. Just know his suicide did not happen in a vacuum. I’m not the one who had “a major fail in grace and elegance.” That sin belongs to someone else. Tony Bourdain lived a life of open compassion, and he helped the world understand one another. “Excitedly writing?” I’m happy that those who loved him are celebrating his life… not the way he died… by setting up a scholarship in his name that will lived on and benefit those who want to become chefs, and he has a young daughter who needs to move forward with her life and come to terms with her father’s death. I hope in some small way the auction will help her see how loved he was and what a positive impact her father had on the world. I wrote this post for her. Thank you for sharing how you feel with me. Brenda

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