A COLLECTION THE SIZE OF LAS VEGAS FROM THE LATE MCGUIRE SISTER AND POP STAR FEATURES COUTURE, JEWELS, FURNISHINGS
Las Vegas in the 1950s and 1960s meant a lot of things. It saw the evolution of casinos splashed in glitter and lights, populated by high-rollers flashing money, and a lineup of musicians and actors that made the city one of the hubs of the entertainment world.
Among the “Who’s Who” in the City of Lights were the McGuire Sisters, a trio of singing siblings from Ohio who paired Vegas performances with a recording career that lasted for the better part of two decades, with a glamorous stage act featuring the McGuire Sisters’ buttery-smooth harmonies in hits like Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight and Sugartime. The act was so popular that the sisters – Ruby, Dottie and Phyllis – claimed a place among the Vegas elite, mingling at top Vegas social events and socializing with other celebrities, including the notorious Rat Pack that included the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dean Martin. They performed for five American Presidents – Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush – as well as for Queen Elizabeth II. They were, simply put, entertainment royalty.
Phyllis was known as the “one in the middle” of the group, which retired from performing after a 1968 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. They later reunited and continued to perform. She outlived her sisters, spending decades in a Vegas mansion that included a large-scale replica of the Arc de Triomphe, a swan moat, a beauty parlor and a 45-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower extending through the roof.
Just as the replica tower burst through the home’s roof, the 26,000-square foot home also burst with her collections of extraordinary furniture, decorative art, luxury accessories, couture and fine jewelry and vertu – much of which will be offered August 10 in Heritage Auctions’ Estate of Phyllis McGuire Signature Auction. A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to McGuire’s charitable foundation.
“Heritage has never offered such a diverse group of property in one auction,” Heritage Auctions West Coast Director Carolyn Mani said. “Phyllis McGuire had a museum-quality collection of vintage haute couture, designer clothing and jewelry and incredible furniture and rugs. She was a major entertainment star when she sang with her sisters, but the value in this collection is not only because of her celebrity status. The items in this sale are amazing, and of such high quality and desirability, that they would stand on their own.”
Among the 27 lots offered in situ in the 383-lot event is McGuire’s Bösendorfer Model 225 Mahogany and Pearwood Inlay Ninety-Two Key Grand Piano with Conforming Bench, circa 2000 (estimate: $60,000-80,000), a gorgeous instrument that sounds as beautiful as it looks. The large Bösendorfer logo on the suggests the instrument was designed as a performance instrument.
Included among the lots offered in situ from her treasured collection are:
- A Palace-sized Tabriz Rug (estimate: $40,000-60,000)
- A French Aubusson Palatial Tapestry, circa 1820 (estimate: $30,000-50,000)
- A Charles Frodsham Louis XV-Style Gilt Bronze Mounted Tall Case Clock, 19th century (estimate: $5,000-7,000)
- An Art Deco Brunswick The Arcade Model Pool Table with Monarch Cushions, circa 1923 (estimate: $4,000-6,000)
- A French Erard Floor Harp, 19th century (estimate: $3,000-5,000)
- A Pair of French Glass Chandelier with Green and Gold Chimney Shades Attributed to Baccarat (estimate: $8,000-12,000 each)
- A French Louis XVI style inlaid commode (estimate: $3,000-5,000)
- A Bohemian Green Cut to Clear Glass Chandelier (estimate: $8,000-12,000)
McGuire was known for her dazzling image, which gained an extra sparkle through her vast array of necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings. Some of McGuire’s jewelry will be offered in Heritage Auctions’ Sept. 27 Jewelry Auction, but her collection also filled this sale with sparkling highlights – an assortment that includes:
- A Diamond, Ruby, and Platinum-Topped Gold Bracelet (estimate: $12,000-18,000)
- A Diamond and Platinum Brooch (estimate: $10,000-15,000)
- A Diamond and White Gold Necklace (estimate: $10,000-15,000) with an approximate total of 36 carats of diamonds
- A Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Necklace (estimate: $10,000-15,000)
- An Oscar Heyman Bros. Emerald, Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Ring (estimate: $8,000-10,000)
McGuire cut a stunning figure in any room she entered. The auction includes an assemblage of 146 haute couture lots, with designs made specifically for McGuire by designers ranging from Coco Chanel to Bill Blass and Halson. The trove features 27 lots in the auction by Chanel, including but not limited to:
- A Bouclé Wool Mink-Lined Coat, with a Coco Chanel Two-Piece Wool Dress, Two Chanel Necklaces, and a Mink Hat (estimate: $2,000-3,000)
- A Gown, with a Coco Chanel Velvet and Gold Lace Coat, and a Necklace (estimate: $1,500-2,000)
- A Bouclé Wool Coat, with a Coco Chanel Two-Piece Wool Suit, Two Chanel Necklaces, a Beret with a Pin, and a Belt (estimate: $1,000-1,500)
- A Two-Piece Black and Pink Silk Gown with Jacket, and Chanel Necklace Accompanied by Photograph (estimate: $1,000-1,500)
Other exciting lots include Entertainment memorabilia from some of her close friends including
- A Wood and Bone Cane Owned and Screen-Used by Frank Sinatra in Pal Joey, circa 1957 (estimate: $3,000-5,000)
- A Lacquered Wood, Bone, and Horn Cane Used by Fred Astaire in Top Hat, circa 1935 (estimate: $3,000-5,000)
- A Rat Pack-Era Black Jack Table with Seven Stools and Gaming Pieces (estimate: $2,000-3,000)
“Phyllis McGuire had a huge presence in entertainment, and in Las Vegas society because of her stature as a star entertainer and also because she did so much for charity,” Mani said. “She was a larger-than-life personality, with a home and collections to match. Her impeccable eye and taste are why this is such an extraordinary auction. It is a rare opportunity which combines Fine Furniture, Fashion, and Jewelry all in one event.”
This article appears in the August 2021 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine. Subscribe to the digital magazine here.