Get Ready to Bid on the Oprah Auction

Oprah Winfrey has made history more than once in her career as a talk show host, media producer, teacher, and philanthropist — and now she is auctioning off a collection of her possessions so that you too can own a bit of Oprah History.

The auction, like many of Oprah’s endeavors, is designed to help others:

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers is pleased to announce that the proceeds of this auction will benefit The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation, supporting the continued education of the students from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls — South Africa as they continue their education at universities in South Africa and a range of prestigious American institutions such as Stanford University, Spelman College, Smith College, Brown University and others.

That’s from Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, where you can also view a catalog of the items to be auctioned and the estimated bid prices, including:

— A giltwood lamb, measuring 8 1/2 inches ($1,000–2,000)

— A tole garbage can (sorry, “waste paper basket”), and yes I looked up tole so you wouldn’t have to, it’s a type of decorated tin ($60–80)

— A gold sofa with an old-fashioned fringe dust ruffle ($600–800)

— A Colibri ballpoint pen with a Mickey Mouse design ($20–40)

And more. The catalog has twelve pages of auctionable items.

What I find most interesting about being able to view Oprah’s possessions is not that she has great taste — we all expected Oprah to have amazing taste, right? — but that, despite the odd Mickey Mouse pen, all of her possessions fit within a specific look. They’re French-influenced, specifically what looks like pre-1900s French orientalisme (which is to say, when French designers incorporated Asian influences). It’s all gilt and tole.

If I had unlimited money and was able to decorate my home in any way that I chose, I know I wouldn’t pick this look even though it is gorgeous. But I love the idea that Oprah did, at one point, choose these items for herself.

I’m also very curious at how the bidding will actually fall out. Something like the Mickey Mouse pen, for example, could go for much higher than its suggested $20 value, since that’s an item a lot of online bidders will decide they can “afford,” and then as competing bids emerge, the sunk cost theory will push the bidding up into the $200 range. (Yes, the sunk cost theory works even if you haven’t lost any money yet, because time/investment counts as a cost.)

Meanwhile, the gold sofa might go for less than $600 simply because it is a relatively bland item and it is cumbersome to move and incorporate into a living space. It’s much cooler to own Oprah’s fancy-pants trash can — I’d love to be able to say, casually, “yeah, that’s Oprah’s trash can” — than it is to own and lug around an old-fashioned sofa.

The auction is open to the online public, so take a look at the catalog and let us know: would you buy any of Oprah’s items? It’s for a good cause, after all, and there are a lot of small, affordable items on the list.

Photo credit: aphrodite-in-nyc, and hat tip to Jezebel for posting about the Oprah Auction