Whitney Houston‘s numerous awards, stunning red-carpet dresses and other personal affects will be up for grabs come June 24 and 25 in an auction held by auction house Heritage Auctions and sanctioned by her estate.
“The [Houston] family actually reached out to the president of our company, ” says Garry Shrum, director of Entertainment and Music Memorabilia at Heritage Auctions. “We had worked with a good friend of theirs, David Gest. He knew us and liked what we did and told the Houston [family] about us, and my colleague Margaret Barrett and I went out to New Jersey and listened to what they wanted to do. We gave them some ideas, they gave us some ideas, and we came up with this 119-piece collection that’s basically a retrospective of Whitney from the beginning, from when she first started singing after she left being a background singer for Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls. We have her passport from the beginning, all these various awards and outfits, all kinds of cool and groovy things.”
The most buzzed-about item on the internet is her intricate, one-of-a-kind Marc Bouwer wedding dress, which she wore to wed Bobby Brown in 1992.
Some of the more unique and sentimental items include weathered passports, a jacket given to Whitney by her father emblazoned with her childhood nickname Nippy, and a Disney coloring book entirely in Japanese. “Her and Michael [Jackson], they loved Disney stuff,” Shrum says. “She colored these pages and then autographed it. To get something personal like that, it doesn’t happen very often.”
“This is probably going to do half a million or more,” Shrum predicts. A portion of the proceeds will go to a charity of the family’s choosing.
“It’s a unique opportunity for her fans to actually get personal things that were very close to her coming directly from the estate,” says Shrum. “Usually you pick up odds and ends that were given to fans and fans end up selling them with [Heritage Auctions], but when you get something from the estate, it’s so personal and it has such strong provenance and the backstories that the family has given us to put with the pieces are even more exciting.
Beyond her glamorous wardrobe and treasure trove of awards, Whitney Houston left behind an even greater legacy. “Her music’s going to last more than a lifetime,” Shrum says. “A hundred years from now, ‘I Will Always Love You’ will still be a song that people shake their head when they hear it.”