Sunday, September 17, 2023


I have a short story for you today about a celebrity hooked rug collector "couple"! As I was reading through my Maine Antique Digest, I came across the results of not 1 but a series of 3 auctions held from May 27 to June 13 at the prestigious Sotheby’s in New York City. The article said that the auctions attracted over 800 bidders from more than 30 countries, and sales totaled $4.3 million. WOW! 

Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward after their 1958 wedding ceremony in Las Vegas. Joanne’s dress was among the auction items.

This vast auction of automotive & racing memorabilia, entertainment & film memorabilia, fine & folk art, decorative arts, furniture, watches, & jewelry was titled: A LIFE & LEGACY: THE JOANNE WOODWARD & PAUL NEWMAN COLLECTION.

Joanne in 1990, after receiving her bachelor of arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, with her supportive husband.

The auctions were described as…

The World of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman draws back the curtains of the stars’ personal lives, unveiling a retrospective and intimate point of view of the couple’s thrilling, yet exclusive world that existed outside of the limelight. The collection includes mementos from their love story, including Joanne’s wedding dress. Other highlights include scripts, costumes and other film memorabilia, as well as keepsakes from the passions they held outside the acting world, like racing, ballet and philanthropy. The couple were passionate Americana collectors and the sale includes a vast selection of early Americana and English furniture, décor, and fine art.

The Newman-Woodward family in Beverly Hills, 1965. Top row, from left: Nell, Susan, Scott. Bottom row, from left, Joanne, Paul, Clea, Lissy & Stephanie.

Newman and Woodward, who primarily resided in Westport, Connecticut, but also had a home in New York City and, briefly, in Los Angeles, personified “shabby chic” before shabby chic was even a thing, said Mari-Claudia Jiménez, Sotheby’s managing director and worldwide head of business development, Global Fine Arts.

The auction items were gathered primarily from the couple’s Westport, Connecticut, and New York City homes. Sotheby’s Americana specialist Caroline Tamposi had this to say about the couple’s folk art objects… “If they liked it, they liked it. They didn’t care about provenance.”

Paul and Joanne made about 15 movies together, but Joanne, who was a movie star before he was, threw herself into the raising of their children and the keeping of their homes. “They weren’t the Architectural Digest type,” said Jiménez. “They cultivated homes that somebody wanted to live in and they were surrounding themselves with the objects they wanted to see every day.” The pair frequented flea markets and antique shows, and were constantly loading up on new treasures. “They were thrifty and thoughtful,” said Jiménez. “It wasn’t like, I went to Sotheby’s and spent $10m on a painting. It was: I found this great find and I loved it.”

Westport House

 I thought you might enjoy some photos & info on this house, which seems to be their “normal life” home & a retreat from celebrity life. The earliest portion of the main residence, known as the Ebenezer Coley House, is a well-preserved Colonial Saltbox built circa 1763. Kirby Grimes, noted Hamptons architect, designed the newer addition, which adds functionality and comfort yet echoes the saltbox form and brings the total square footage to 6,442. The transitional space from the old house to new addition has seven sets of French doors to the rear patio and wisteria-entwined pergola.  For more info info on the Westport House: Click Here  

5th Avenue Penthouse in Carnegie Hill, New York City

While I couldn’t find much in the way of photos or info on this home, it seems like this was the working home of the homes - where they would be much more engaged with their careers.

Paul in the 5th Ave NYC Penthouse, back in 1984.

 The Couple’s Hooked Rugs


Among the folk art for sale in these auctions, there were 2 hooked rugs listed:

 An American 'Homestead' Pictorial Hooked Area Rug, Circa 1920, 31 x 51 in.


An American 'Lion' Pictorial Hooked Rug, probably Ebenezer Ross & Co., Ohio, Circa 1900, 35 ¾ x 59 ½ in. Depicting a recumbent lion and standing lion in a landscape, worked in various wools. This rug was located in Paul and Joanne's barn in Westport, Connecticut. 


In a 1994 New York Times article about McAdoo Rugs, located in Vermont, it mentions some of McAdoo's famous customers – one of which was Paul Newman. So, we know that Paul & Joanne also owned at least one contemporary McAdoo rug - at one time. 

Joanne Woodward – Fiber Art

According to these auctions, Joanne created some fiber art herself. Here are the auction lots backing this up…

'Mischievous Fox' Needlepoint Cover by Joanne Woodward Newman, Circa 1975, 15 x 11 ½ x 24 in. Initialed and dated lower left JWN 1975, mounted on a modern footstool.


An American Crewelwork Panel, possibly by Joanne Woodward, circa 1965-1985, sight 17 x 19 in

The Auction Series

For more info on the auctions & a lovely little video narrated by Sotheby’s & the Newman children: Click here    


As with all my Blog posts, I hope you enjoy the story, history & fiber art! Have a beautiful day filled with some creativity!