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Eyelashes for Betty Davis’ Eyes Go for $550 at Packed Auction

April 12, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ Bette Davis fans packed an auction of the late star’s possessions, but many left empty-handed as pre-sale estimates were eclipsed by bids in the hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

A box lot of eyeglasses and false eyelashes that graced those famous Bette Davis eyes was valued at $25 to $50, but sold Wednesday for $550.

A 16-by-20-inch crayon drawing by costume designer Edith Head of a black- gowned Miss Davis in the movie ″All About Eve,″ was valued before sale at $1,200 to $1,800. It fetched $23,100.

A leather script cover bearing the initials ″BD,″ along with two scripts and a notepad, brought $4,400. The pre-sale estimate was $50 to $100.

″I thought I could get some of the small memorabilia, but it started too high,″ said Honey Schiller, one of 1,000 people who got into the auction at the William Doyle Galleries. ″I love Bette Davis. I think she was the best. She was beautiful. I could watch ‘All About Eve’ all night.″

The entire sale of 261 lots had been expected to bring $60,000 to $103,000, but the final tally was $221,336.50, according to Lewis Webre, spokesman for the gallery.

Webre attributed the high sale prices to good publicity, a capacity crowd and an abiding interest in a star who ″embodies everything that embodied Hollywood in the old days. She is everyone’s kind of bitchy alter-ego.″

Potential bidders - many attracted by some lots with an estimated worth of under $100 - snaked 1 1/2 blocks out of the building before auction time.

″It looked more like a Hollywood premiere than an auction,″ Webre said.

Miss Davis, who died in October at age 81, kept the furniture, paintings, photographs, designer gowns, glassware, jewelry, books and memorabilia in a six-room townhouse in West Hollywood.

A director’s chair from ″Family Reunion,″ embossed with Miss Davis’ name and the slogan, ″She Did It the Hard Way,″ went for $1,320.

Among those vying for the movie legend’s goods were other celebrities, including actress Cicely Tyson, who wore a babushka and sunglasses and was wedged in with the standees. She remained incognito as she waved her paddle to cinch several purchases.

Miss Tyson paid $880 for a group of framed wall hangings, one inscribed ″Beauty is as Beauty Does,″ and another, ″No Guts No Glory.″ She also bought a photograph of Miss Davis, posed at the St. James Club on Sunset Boulevard, for $3,300.

Miss Tyson had no comment. But her fellow auction-goers weren’t shy.

″My mother used the same diaper service as Bette Davis did,″ boasted Shelle Ackerman, a singer and actress, who arrived 1 1/2 hours early for a front-row seat.

″It’s kind of scary to know she actually touched and lived with all of this,″ said Charles Pierce of North Hollywood, Calif., an actor who has impersonated Miss Davis since 1954.

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