Hepburn Letters Sold
By Irish America Staff
December / January 2004
A collection of letters written by Hollywood star Audrey Hepburn to her father and stepmother sold for £45,500 at auction at Christie’s — nine times more than the estimate of between £3,000 and £5,000. And a set of family photographs showing the My Fair Lady star, taken between 1939 and 1989, went for £24,150 to the same buyer — far more than the pre-sale estimate of around £1,500.
Hepburn was thought to have had little contact with her father, Anthony Ruston-Hepburn, an English banker with Irish roots, who left the family after Audrey’s mother, Baroness Ella van Heemstra, caught him with the nanny. Audrey was six at the time and it wasn’t until 1959, when she was 30, that they reestablished contact. She tracked her father down to Dublin where he was living in genteel poverty with Fidelma, an Irish woman half his age. It was Fidelma, who in 1950 became Anthony’s third wife, who made the decision to auction the letters. She says: “I was having a clear-out and wanted this precious material to go to fans and enthusiasts who will really appreciate it.”
Hepburn, who once said that her father’s departure had “left a very deep mark,” provided for him for the rest of his life. ♦