Bourdain’s Bob Kramer custom chef’s knife netted over $230,000 alone.

By Mike Pomranz
November 06, 2019

It's impossible to put a price on the contributions Anthony Bourdain made to the culinary world, but we do have an idea of how much some the personal items from the late chef's estate are worth to the 3,000 bidders who helped support the Anthony Bourdain Legacy Scholarship at The Culinary Institute of America. After three weeks of bidding, all 202 items up for auction as part of The Collection of Anthony Bourdain were sold—and at "amounts significantly higher than their estimates," according to the auction house—taking in $1,846,575 in total.

The two top selling items, both sold for over six figures, were a custom steel and meteorite chef's knife from legendary bladesmith Bob Kramer made specifically for Bourdain (including certificate of authenticity) which sold for $231,250 and the chef's U.S. Navy Jacket from the U.S.S Nashville featuring a "Tony Bourdain" patch that sold for $171,150. (All figures include the 25 percent buyer's premium.) Meanwhile, anyone looking for an inexpensive keepsake was out of luck: Even a group of eight lightly worn comic books estimated to sell for $40 to $60 went for $1,062. They tied for the least expensive lot alongside an Ermenegildo Zegna Blazer billed as containing "some stains." (Not to say anyone was planning on wearing it.)

Mike Pont / Contributor/Getty Images

Overall, Lark Mason Associates, which presented the auction, described the collection as "a range of items from books and personal mementos to carefully chosen works of art, as well as cultural artifacts, which he accumulated during his travels," many of which "had special significance to Bourdain, either as gifts from friends or special purchases associated with memorable experiences from his writing or television appearances."

Many of the other top selling items certainly fit that bill including a French silvered bronze Bibendum or Michelin Man sculpture ($61,250), an artist's proof of "Rats in the Kitchen" from Ralph Steadman inscribed to Anthony Bourdain ($52,500), a chrome duck press from the Paris episode of Bourdain's show The Layover ($35,000), a watercolor from artist Brad Phillips that says "Eat, Pray, Get the Fuck Out" ($23,125), a menu by Henry Miller signed and given to Bourdain by his son, Tony Miller ($19,375), and the script for The Simpsons' episode "The Food Wife" featuring signed inscriptions to Bourdain ($18,750).

"I'm pleased to see that Tony's art, furnishings, watches, books and collectibles have found new homes with people who appreciate his sensibilities, and that the sale of these items will allow future generations of CIA students to explore the world," Laurie Woolever, Anthony Bourdain's assistant and collaborator, said in the announcement.

Tim Ryan, president of the Culinary Institute of America, seconded the importance of this auction to his students. "We are tremendously grateful that such a generous portion of these auction proceeds will support the Anthony Bourdain Legacy Scholarship at The Culinary Institute of America," he stated. "Anthony showed us that traveling to experience other cuisines and cultures first-hand is invaluable both in and outside the kitchen. We are proud to be able to support our students, the future leaders of the food industry, in following in his footsteps."

Advertisement