Love, Liza: The Auction
We all have things that have accumulated through the years either by design or default, and with time they seem to take on a life of their own. We can become potential prisoners to those shelves and storage repositories that we maintain to preserve our past, or can be liberated by them. With a life and career as expansive and multi layered as Liza’s she has accumulated many things. There is her stuff, her mother’s stuff, her father’s, things from her tours and shows, memorabilia from fans, furniture, you name it. As for many, it is easier to put something in storage rather than take the time to deal with it, and who has time anyway?
For 20 years, Liza has talked about her storage and we have gone to look at some of it through the years, collected on both coasts on over a half dozen locations. I was put in charge of going through film and video vaults, looking through road cases and show props as well as looking over a lot of her dad’s stuff that was stored in Beverly Hills. On it went, and every time amazing things would turn up and Liza would retrieve certain items that were meaningful and make sure the rest was safe. But it became overwhelming, with so many storage areas and the realization that it could take a lifetime to get to it all.
In the last few years, she relocated to Los Angeles and made a conscious choice to simplify and relax for the first time in her life. Her home is furnished beautifully with her Warhols, Halston furnishings, paintings by her father and others, selective memorabilia and awards and is done in clean, spare and elegant style. Keep it simple is her mantra. She sometimes calls me and says, “I woke up this morning and thought, what do I have to do today? Nothing. Then I relax and do whatever I want.” Then she sighs. After a lifetime of non stop work she is, from my view, happier than I have ever seen her.
Typical of Liza, instead of being paralyzed by all those storage spaces, and being in a mindset of change and making room for new things, she said, “Honey, it’s time for spring cleaning, and I mean purge with a capitol P”. It did not come without much thought and soul searching. The conclusion was that she could sit on these things and they would never see the light of day again or could send them out in the world and share them now and see them live again with others who would appreciate having them. Another important factor for her is that much of the proceeds will eventually go to The Great American Songbook Foundation, an organization I started seven years ago with her help, and thus the letting go of objects also serves a cause that is important to her.
Mind you, she has saved many things that are intimate and important to her and her family, and those will be kept private. There were also so many photos and multiple images that only the most resonant were retained with the rest to go out in the world. What are some of the things has she kept? The Christening Bible from her Godmother Kay Thompson, The stereo color slides taken of her by her father in costumes he reproduced from his films, her mother’s music library, clothing and other trappings that have personal importance. And of course, her father’s Oscar, an oversized Avedon photo of her mother, certain movie posters like The Clock which was the film her parents made together and caused them to fall in love.
Liza is modest and deeply sensitive. She knows her place in show business history, mainly by looking at the continuum of it, but lives for the moment. It is through the eyes of others that she might most appreciate herself, though if I find and watch something of hers that I adore, she can look at it cleared eyed and without false modesty and say “that was good”. She is proud of her craft and the work she put into perfecting her art.
Halston. No one matters more to her than Halston. Sharing his work is her way of reminding people of his importance to her life and the world of fashion, style and deep friendship. The vibrations in the clothes and drawings she is sharing are damned powerful! She says that with Fred Ebb and Kay Thompson, Halston created her.
I called her and Liza just said the following that I transcribed:
My life is a gift of flowing friendships and relationships all collected in these objects. It is with many emotions I share them, knowing that that they will create new bridges for others as they have for me. I woke up one day and thought, “Honey, you ain’t gonna wait till you’ve bought the farm and leave your life on someone else’s doorstep”. So, it was time to go there, and I have, and it feels good.