By Dan Berman, CNN
The bidding war for parts of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s library is over, and it’s clear that fans of the late Supreme Court justice have deep pockets.
The collection of Ginsburg-iana went for $2.3 million in the auction run by Bonhams, the auction house said.
The sale included more than 1,000 books with inscriptions from fellow justices, some of Ginsburg’s old annotated law textbooks and gifts from Gloria Steinem and Annie Leibovitz. Honorary degrees from Brown and Smith were also available, as were collections on Judaica, opera and women’s rights.
Here are some highlights:
The $100,000 law review book
The top seller was RBG’s annotated copy from her year on the Harvard Law Review, (Lot 3), which went for $100,312.50.
The book of the 1957-58 year has Ginsburg’s name embossed on the spine and notes written throughout.
According to Bonhams, Ginsburg heavily annotated an essay titled “Problems of Parallel State and Federal Remedies” and one titled “Price-Restrictive Patent Licenses Under the Sherman Act,” by Helmut F. Furth. In the latter, Ginsburg “underscores and annotates Furth’s history of the price-fixing patent and the court’s regulation of the same.”
Relatively cheap college degrees
The full sticker price for a year at Smith College is more than $78,000, comprising tuition, room and board, health insurance and the student activities fee. For Brown University, the grand total is much the same.
But someone found a bargain path to get a diploma, and they didn’t even have to go to class, study or take final exams.
Ginsburg’s 1994 honorary degree from Smith College (Lot 16) sold for just over $20,000.
The 2002 honorary degree from Brown University (Lot 33) went for a paltry $16,500.
Toni Morrison is still a best-seller.
The 2005 reissue of her classic “Beloved” (Lot 38) inscribed to Ruth and Marty Ginsburg was a hit at $31,562.50.
(A copy of Al Gore’s “The Assault on Reason” — Lot 40 — went for the same price. I’ll let literary scholars debate the merits of each.)
A life’s work for $80,000
Ginsburg’s personal copy of her 2016 book, “My Own Words,” a collection of her writings and speeches, sold for $81,500. The copy was bound for the the Legal Classics Library in 2017 and includes the justice’s personal bookplate.
The Swedish connection
“Civil Procedure in Sweden,” with Anders Bruzelius, (Lot 5) was Ginsburg’s first published book (1965). The sticker price back then certainly wasn’t $20,000, which is what one lucky bidder paid this week.
This wasn’t the only part of the RBG Swedish collection in the auction.
Lot 103 — a collection of Swedish law books — went for $9,000.
Lot 75 — a collection of photos of the late justice in Sweden from 2019 — sold at $5,700.
Sotomayor is the top liberal
This is not a scientific survey by any means, but the most popular of the current and former justices, based on how their book sold in this one auction, is … Sonia Sotomayor.
The liberal stalwart’s “My Beloved World” inscribed to RBG sold for $40,000.
Sotomayor will become the top liberal on the bench once Justice Stephen Breyer retires later this year. There were three books by Breyer in the sale, they brought in a combined $40,000.
O’Connor the top conservative; Gorsuch and Thomas don’t draw
Another trailblazer, the retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, excited buyers. Her gift of the biography “Lazy B” went for $31,500.
A surprise bargain was Lot 50: “Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir,” from the late former Justice John Paul Stevens. According to the auction house, RBG made minor corrections to the book even after it was published, and someone (Bonhams acknowledges it could have been a clerk) “flagged her appearances with green tabs.” Final price: $12,750.
Another Stevens book, “The Making of a Justice: Reflections on My First 94 Years,” drew $15,000, perhaps because it didn’t need edits after publishing (that we know about, anyway).
One of the books by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, one of RBG’s closest friends, “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts,” with Bryan Garner, was the top conservative draw at just over $15,000.
Buyers apparently weren’t keen on other conservative justices, however.
Law school textbooks are expensive when they’re new. And you’d think you could nab a discount by buying used. Especially if someone underlined passages and wrote notes in the margins.
But if they were used by RBG, who apparently kept them for 50 years after graduating law school, they’re no bargain.
Three textbooks from Ginsburg’s time at Harvard and Columbia, including volumes on civil procedure and property, were for sale.
Cornelius Moynihan’s 1940 “A Preliminary Survey of the Law of Real Property,” sold for $25,000. Austin Wakeman Scott’s “Fundamentals of Procedure in Actions at Law” was $44,000, as was Ginsburg’s copy of “Jurisprudence: Men and Ideas of the Law.”
A-listers fail to deliver
What do Tina Fey, Alec Guinness and Padma Lakshmi have in common? They’re all here in a lot of books (and a DVD!) of celebrity memoirs and biographies.
The set includes a copy of Fey’s “Bossypants,” gifted to Ginsburg from a former law clerk (a rarity among the collection that’s being sold), two copies of “Along the Way,” by Martin Sheen and son Emilio Estevez, and Diane von Furstenberg’s “The Woman I Wanted to Be.”
Well, turns out they have something else in common: Buyers weren’t that interested. Lot 143 sold for $7,600.
DVD’s aren’t worth what they used to be.
Some other highlights:
Lot 25, an inscribed copy of Larry Tribe’s Harvard Law Review essay “Taking Text and Structure Seriously: Reflections on Free-form Method in Constitutional Interpretation,” sold for $6,300.
Steinem’s book “My Life on the Road” carries the inscription: “To dearest Ruth — who paved the road for us all — with a lifetime of gratitude — Gloria.” Final tally: $52,000.
Leibovitz and Susan Sontag presented Ginsburg with a copy of their book “Women,” which includes a double-page spread with RBG and O’Connor. Winning bid: $37,800.
The fine print
The sale was a small part of Ginsburg’s collection, much of which has been already donated to various charities and institutions. The proceeds of this auction will go to Ginsburg’s heirs, the auction house said.
Bonhams says it will not publicize the names of any buyers but noted that some may identify themselves in the future.
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.