Sotheby’s to Host Auction of Vivien Leigh’s Treasures

The Hollywood movie star Vivien Leigh is perhaps best known for her roles in “Gone with the Wind” and “A Street Car Named Desire” and is often thought of as a typical American actress. However, few modern movie viewers realise she was an English actress born in India who for 20 years of her life held the title of ‘Lady’. Capitalising on this mysterious background, Sotheby’s will host a collection of Leigh’s belongings in what is now being hailed as the ‘The Vivien Leigh Collection’.

Image Credit

Her Life and Loves

Vivien Leigh’s rise to stardom wasn’t a typical Hollywood story. Vivian’s early life took place in India, Roehampton and across various European cities. She decided she wanted to be an actress at an early age, and her father supported her at RADA. However, her future husband disapproved of acting and convinced her to retire. They had a daughter, but soon Vivien was itching to get back on the boards, and it wasn’t long before Vivien’s more famous second husband made an appearance. While acting in “Fire Over London”, Vivien fell in love with Laurence Olivier, becoming Lady Olivier after they were married.

Their Secret Treasures

It was this second marriage, which has produced some of the treasures, which Sotheby’s hopes to share with the world.

Image Credit

In a glossy brochure produced with the help of fine art Giclee printing services, like the ones provided by, Sotheby’s has really excelled.

Belongings from the Oliviers’ two homes, Notley Abbey and Durham Cottage, offer a rare glimpse into the private lives of a multi-Oscar-winning couple who were also members of the British aristocracy. Notley Abbey, dating from the Middle Ages, was given to Olivier’s family by Henry V, and John Piper’s painting of the abbey is estimated to be worth around £10,000. However, Durham Cottage in the Chelsea Mews was their self-acquired home, from where both could travel to Pinewood Studios and to London to give television and radio interviews. A similar portrait of this home is set to fetch £5,000.

Tokens of Love

However, for those with stars in their eyes, the really fascinating items of the sale are the diamonds and gold exchanged between the pair. A gold ring inscribed ‘Laurence Olivier Vivien Eternally’ is rumoured to have been heavily under-valued to attract the souvenir hunters.