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Pianist Van Cliburn's collection fetches $4.3 million at auction

May 18, 2012|By Jamie Wetherbe
  • Van Cliburn's collection of mementos sold for more than $4.3 million at a New York City auction.
Van Cliburn's collection of mementos sold for more than $4.3 million… (Sergey Ponomarev/Associated…)

A collection of treasures from pianist Van Cliburn brought in $4.3 million at a New York City auction.

More than 150 items that Cliburn collected as mementos while playing concerts around the world -- including Russian art, English furnishings, jewelry and silver -- went on the Christie's auction block Thursday.

The sale's premier piece was a pair of George II giltwood mirrors attributed to Mathias Lock -- expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000 -- sold for $460,000.

Cliburn said he plans to give the money from the sale to the Juilliard School, his alma mater, and to the Moscow Conservatory.

Cliburn, now 77, was 23 when he won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958. He returned to the United States as a Cold War hero and a classical music star playing concerts at the White House. Some of the items he brought back from the Russian competition were added to the auction.

“I went over with two suitcases,” Cliburn told the New York Times, “and came back with 17.”

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