September 21st, 2011
08:00 PM ET
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Normally a table for four at New York's storied "Elaine's" restaurant required nothing more than a reservation. That hard to get table known as "Table Number One with Four Chairs" is no longer available following it's sale Tuesday at auction for $8,750, far exceeding the pre-sale estimate of $400- $600.

Doyle's Auction house hosted the auction featuring the contents of not only the famed literary and celebrity haunt, but also personal artwork, books, memorabilia, furniture, decorations, fashion and accessories that the legendary owner, Elaine Kaufman who died in December 2010, collected or was given.

Elaine Kaufman would have savored the night considering that the results of the total sale totaled $385,734 - far surpassing the pre-sale estimate of $187,495. Only seven lots of the 242 lots went unsold.

Kathleen Doyle, CEO and Chairman of Doyle’s Auction house said the atmosphere of the auction was like no other as regulars and locals, most who knew each other, were in attendance.

"It was a celebration of Elaine's," said Doyle. "When table number one sold, everyone in the audience just broke into applause."

While it was the sophisticated art collectors who snatched up Kaufman's art collection including works by Wallace Berman, Andy Warhol, Reginald Marsh, George Segal and Helen Frankenthaler, it was the regulars who gobbled up everything else.

Other highlights from the sale included an iconic vintage cash register that rang up the tabs behind the bar sold for $4,063. A colorfully painted paper mache figure of a Christmas carousel horse that hung prominently in the restaurants front window rode far past its estimate, also fetched $4,063.

The restaurant which was never highly regarded for its cuisine but celebrated in cinema, song and literature served its last meal in May. The uptown eatery was often the destination for the country's power elite from media and politics to entertainment and law enforcement.

While the food was widely regarded to be rather unremarkable, the restaurant found a permanent place in pop culture with it inclusion in scenes from Woody Allen's 'Manhattan' and the recent film ‘Morning Glory,' as well as a notable mention in Billy Joel's 'Big Shot': "They were all impressed with your Halston dress / And the people that you knew at Elaine's."

Owner Elaine Kaufman who died at the age of 81 from complications of emphysema was just as famous, holding court since 1963. Kaufman hosted over a star-studded scene that in its heyday, boasted writing royalty like George Plimpton, Norman Mailer, Gay Talese and Hunter Thompson as well as silver screen stars including Kirk Douglas, Michael Caine and Billy Dee Williams.

After Elaine Kaufman passed away she bequeathed her eponymously named restaurant and the two buildings it occupied, to her longtime manager Diane Becker.

For Doyle, the auction was more a labor of love, as celebrity auctions are often more fun and always has a captive audience.

"It was a fun way to end an era of a classic iconic figure, whose last name you didn't even have to mention- it was just Elaine's"

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Filed under: Classic • Restaurants

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  1. Dan-O

    I'd love to get my hands on that ink and watercolor.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:19 am |
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