Doyle to Auction Collection of John Perona, Owner of Legendary NYC Supper Club El Morocco

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • September 02, 2014

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Interior of El Morocco, 1930s.
Doyle New York

Doyle New York will hold an auction of El Morocco: The John Perona Collection on Tuesday, September 16 at 10am. This landmark sale comprises paintings, furniture and decorations from Mr. Perona’s private collection, as well as photographs and memorabilia from his legendary supper club, El Morocco. Important jewelry, clocks, paintings, books, autographs and Asian art in the collection will be offered in sales throughout the Fall. The Collection in its entirety will be exhibited on September 12 through 14.

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For thirty years until his death in 1961, John Perona lived at the epicenter of international café society. European royalty, Hollywood stars, South American millionaires and prominent figures in society, commerce and the arts all gathered at the undisputed star of New York’s supper clubs – El Morocco. Countless photographs of celebrities and socialites seated on zebra-patterned banquettes beneath tropical palm trees chronicle the Golden Era of New York’s night clubs, and through those images, the legend of El Morocco still lives today.

Memorabilia to be offered on September 16 features John Perona’s personal copy of the El Morocco Family Album with photographs by Jerome Zerbe, autographed by such famous patrons as Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, William K. Vanderbilt, Raymond R. Guest, Robert Benchley, George Rand, Kitty Carlisle, David Niven, Conde Nast, Cecil Beaton, Jack Dempsey, Valentino, Gloria Swanson and Elsa Maxwell (est. $2,000-3,000).

Certain to attract attention are group lots of vintage photographs, totaling over 1,000 images by Jerome Zerbe and other photographers, of guests at El Morocco, dating from the 1930s through the 1950s. Among the celebrities depicted are Errol Flynn, Douglas Fairbanks (Sr. and Jr.), Joan Crawford, Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, James Cagney, Elizabeth Taylor and Nicky Hilton, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn and many more. By Vincenzo Zito is an extensive group of original caricature drawings (est. $1,000-1,500). Also featured are lots of memorabilia reflecting John Perona’s interest in boxing (Heavyweight legends Jack Dempsey and Luis Firpo were close friends) and car racing.

Several lots of El Morocco favors will be offered on September 16. These group lots comprise complimentary keepsakes that John Perona would bestow on celebrity and VIP patrons and include El Morocco lighters, silk scarves and pocket squares, key fobs, bracelets etc. Also featured is a large group of El Morocco damask table linens in various colors, many with the El Morocco logo.

The September 16 sale includes English, Continental and American furniture and decorations from John Perona’s country estate on Perona Lake in Sussex Country, New Jersey. Among the highlights are a group of Tiffany Studios gilt-bronze and favrile glass desk articles in the grapevine pattern (est. $2,000-3,000) and an extensive glass stemware service engraved with the Perona family crest (est. $800-1,200).

Fine art in the Collection comprises numerous works by prominent European and American artists to be offered in the September 16 auction and in other sales this Fall. Among the artists represented are Sir William Beechey, Giovanni Boldini, Frederick Stuart Church, José Villegas y Cordero, Paul César Helleu, Jules René Hervé, Vincenzo Irolli, Gustave Loiseau, Antonio María de Reyna Manescau, Francisco Domingo Marqués, John McAuliffe, John Read, Carl Reichert, Louis Ritman, Emilio Grau Sala, Constantin Terechkovitch and Lemuel Everett Wilmarth.

Jewelry, accessories and objets de vertu in the Collection will be offered in both the September 16 sale and the Important Jewelry sale on October 21. Highlights include fine rings, bracelets, watches, brooches, gentlemen’s dress sets, and a group of elegant gold and gem-set cigarette cases, including a two-color gold, sapphire and diamond example by Cartier (est. $20,000-30,000). Also by Cartier are two exquisite Art Deco nephrite jade and silver desk clocks (est. $20,000-30,000 and $15,000-20,000, respectively).

Doyle New York is located at 175 East 87th Street in Manhattan. The Internet catalogue may be viewed at Doyle.com. For information, call 212-427-2730 or visit Doyle.com.


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