Cookie jars seem like a totally outdated concept to me; a treasured object of a time gone by, a tchotchke that would fill the house of a grandparent. However, Andy Warhol, the king of downtown NYC cool was obsessed with them (in addition to too many other things), and his passion for the kitschy ceramics caused a fury amongst collectors in 1987 when his collection went up at auction.
Warhol had 175 jars in all when he passed away (in addition to 313 watches, 57 Navajo blankets, 210 Bakelite bracelets, 1,659 pieces of Russel Wright pottery and 170 chairs!). The cookie jars came in all sorts of shapes and sizes, including plump standing piggies of every mid-20th-century Pittsburgh home, clowns, a puppy, lamb, fairy tale moon, Disney characters and a Dutchman, and they were all made around the 40s and 50s. It is said that he used to scour flea markets and junk shops on a daily basis to feed his obsession for collecting.
At the Sotheby’s auction in 1987, the cookie receptacles that formed part of Andy Warhol’s cookie jar collection were sold for a staggering $250,000. There were 39 lots in all, with two jars in each, and each had been estimated to sell for $75 or at most $250 each. Instead they brought in between $1,980 and $23,100 – the record for a lot of cookie jars sold at auction! Gedalio Grinberg, the chairman of the board of the North American Watch Company in New York, spent $198,605 out of the $247,830 paid in this segment of the sale, which Sotheby’s had estimated would bring less than $7,000. Insanity on all fronts.