Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry

Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry

4.5 7
by Leanne Shapton

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Auction catalogs can tell you a lot about a person—their passions and vanities, peccadilloes and aesthetics; their flush years and lean. Think of the collections of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Truman Capote, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

In Leanne Shapton's marvelously inventive and invented auction catalog, the 325 lots up for auction are what remain

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Auction catalogs can tell you a lot about a person—their passions and vanities, peccadilloes and aesthetics; their flush years and lean. Think of the collections of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Truman Capote, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

In Leanne Shapton's marvelously inventive and invented auction catalog, the 325 lots up for auction are what remain from the relationship between Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris (who aren't real people, but might as well be). Through photographs of the couple's personal effects—the usual auction items (jewelry, fine art, and rare furniture) and the seemingly worthless (pajamas, Post-it notes, worn paperbacks)—the story of a failed love affair vividly (and cleverly) emerges. From first meeting to final separation, the progress and rituals of intimacy are revealed through the couple's accumulated relics and memorabilia. And a love story, in all its tenderness and struggle, emerges from the evidence that has been left behind, laid out for us to appraise and appreciate.

In an earlier work, Was She Pretty?, Shapton, a talented artist and illustrator, subtly explored the seemingly simple yet powerfully complicated nature of sexual jealousy. In Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris—a very different yet equally original book—she invites us to contemplate what is truly valuable, and to consider the art we make of our private lives.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Liesl Schillinger
Taken together, the item descriptions provide a running, cumulative portrait of one couple's glorious rise and deflating fall. . . For people who have ever thought that the little gestures, tokens and inside jokes of their relationships were unique to them, Ms. Shapton's book comes as a poignant, jarring reminder of the sameness of the steps that so many couples retrace. . . Despite the mist of melancholy that floats amid this photographic record, there is also humor, caprice, knowingness and the implicit suggestion that changing feelings and fading possessions can't rob a true romance of the value it had at its height. As Lenore and Hal's remembrances show, a love affair is worth more than its trappings could fetch at a jumble sale.
Very Short List
Conceived and executed by the art director of the New York Times Op-Ed page, Leanne Shapton, the story concerns Lenore Doolan (a food writer for the Times) and Hal Morris (a photographer). Doolan appears to have been a clever and adoring girlfriend, who showered the often-absent Morris with confetti-packed envelopes (LOT 1126) and lavender pajamas (LOT 1061). Morris, who had commitment issues and a drinking problem, expressed himself via mixtapes (LOTS 1276 and 1044). What finally drove them apart? Each of the 331 lots provides another piece of the puzzle. Yes, breaking up is hard to do, but reading about it has never been so pleasurable.
The New York Times Randy Kennedy
If there were a real failed-relationship auction house named Strachan & Quinn, where the sale is supposed to take place on Valentine's Day, the event might actually draw a modest crowd, if only because the fictional Hal Morris, a globe-trotting photographer in his early 40s, and Lenore Doolan, who is presented as a late-20s cake columnist for The Times's Dining section, are generally more meticulous than conspicuous in their consumption.
What is the What Dave Eggers
The task is daunting: How to render the dissolution of a relationship in a new way? Leanne Shapton succeeds against all odds with this wildly romantic and erudite book.
The Principles of Uncertainty Maira Kalman
Leanne Shapton's splendid book is completely sensational and over-the-top great. I am nuts about it. This is the stuff of life, literally. Oh, love. Oh, despair. Oh, stolen salt shakers.
I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence Amy Sedaris
Whenever I come across something of Leanne Shapton's—an illustration in The New York Times, or the wooden books she makes—I feel like I have found a hidden treasure. What a great idea—to create a fake auction catalog. It's so original, and the items are perfect and brilliantly displayed. Shapton thought of every detail. I truly am jealous.

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Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.20(d)

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Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry

By Leanne Shapton

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 2009 Leanne Shapton
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-374-17530-6


We have decided to introduce this catalog with text from a postcard written in 2008 by Harold Morris, whose items are being auctioned off here, along with those of Lenore Doolan, and objects given to the couple by friends and family.

Strachan & Quinn, 2009

Dear Lenore, I'll be in town for a few days next month on assignment. It would be good to see you. I've written letters to you, but they are still here in my drawer.

Remember we ran into each other at the Oyster Bar a year ago, and walking home that night you asked: Is there a relationship you ever had that you regretted ending? I didn't say anything, but I wish I had said, Yes, you. That would be my answer.

I don't know what your situation is now. Jaclyn and I are taking a break. Alone again!

Your Hal

LOT 1001

A photograph of Lenore Doolan, age 26

An original color print of Doolan at her desk at The New York Times, 2002. Taken by Adam Bainbridge, a coworker. 4 × 6 in.


LOT 1002

A passport photograph of Harold Morris, age 39

An original print of Morris, taken in 2002 prior to a photography assignment in the Philippines. 2 × 2 in.


LOT 1003

An invitation

An invitation to a Halloween party, October 31, 2002, given by Morris's close friends, photography agents Rekha Subramanian and Paulo Vitale. 4 × 51/4 in.


LOT 1004

A group of photographs

Lenore Doolan and her college friend Kyle Kaplan are seen dressed up for Halloween. 6 × 4 in.



LOT 1005

A photograph of Morris and Doolan

A photograph of Morris and Doolan at the Subramanian-Vitale Halloween party. Morris is dressed as Harry Houdini and Doolan as Lizzie Borden. First known photograph of the couple together. Photographer unknown. Small tack holes in corners. 4 × 6 in.


LOT 1006

A handwritten notation

A short handwritten notation in ballpoint pen on a green cocktail napkin. Reads: "" Some wear and creasing. 5 × 5 in.


LOT 1007

A handwritten letter

A handwritten letter from Ann Doolan to her sister Lenore, dated November 1, 2002, reading in part: "That's crazy you'd met him before — goes to show it IS all timing. I like the sound of him. Probably what you thought was badgering was just plain old-fashioned ardor. Should we be alarmed he was Harry Houdini? Perhaps he'll always come back to you OR he's a master of escape ..." Pale pink G. Lalo, Vergé de France paper. 8 × 53/4 in.

Not illustrated.


LOT 1008

A colorful shirt and postcard

A brightly patterned cotton shirt with unique large sequined appliqué. Label inside collar reads "Marjan Pejoski." Some fading and wear. Size S. Included is a postcard of a Wolfgang Tillmans photograph from the Museum of Modern Art, enclosed with the original gift. Morris's short note to Doolan in ballpoint ink reads in full: "Nobody ever buys me clothes."


LOT 1009

Board game pieces and board

Eight Scrabble letter pieces in a paper envelope, spelling out "THANK YOU." Included is an original Scrabble board game (copyright © 1987). All pieces intact, some wear to corners of board.


LOT 1010

Queneau, Raymond

Exercises in Style (New Directions, 1981), paperback edition. Laid into page 114 is an unfinished letter from Harold Morris to his closest friend, photographer Jason Frank, on Hotel Chicagoan stationery, dated November 4, 2002. Reads in part: "She gave me Scrabble letters that spelled out "thank you," I arranged them to say "okay hunt," "a hunk toy," and "yank thou" before I figured it out. The next day she gave me the rest of the board ..." 10 × 7 in.


LOT 1011

A printout of an e-mail containing directions, with a handwritten notation

An e-mail dated November 25, 2002, from Morris to Doolan giving directions to a house in Croton Falls, NY. Handwritten in ballpoint pen in Doolan's hand is a note reading in full: "Thanksgiving / Croton Falls / Friday / Grand Central Metro-North / Sweet potatoes / Dessert ... pumpkin cake / banana loaf / buttertarts?/Gma's recipe / Wine? / HIM / HIM / HIM / HAL." 11 × 81/2 in.

Not illustrated.


LOT 1012

A group of Polaroids

Six Polaroids of Doolan trying on various casual outfits, taken by her friend, fashion stylist Jessica Frost. 31/2 × 4 in.

$20–30 (6)

LOT 1013


A DVD of the film Strange Brew featuring Bob and Doug McKenzie (Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis). Good condition.

71/2 × 51/2 x1/2 in.


LOT 1014

A color photograph

A photograph of Doolan and Morris at Thanksgiving dinner. Photographer unknown. Small tack holes in corners. 4 × 6 in.


Doolan is wearing an outfit seen in Lot 1012.

LOT 1015 A handwritten note

A handwritten note from Doolan to Morris on New York Times letterhead. Reads in part:"Dear Harold Houdini, Had a great time at Thanksgiving — though I was anxious to meet your friends, you magically made my nerves disappear ... I'd like to send a thank you note, and Marianne asked for the buttertart recipe. Hilarious they already had Strange Brew — What is their address?" 101/2 × 71/4 in.


LOT 1016 A pair of movie tickets

A pair of unused tickets to Annie Hall at the Film Forum, New York. 21/2 × 11/2 in.

Not illustrated.


LOT 1017 A theater playbill forDinner at Eight

A theater playbill for Dinner at Eight at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. Handwriting in margins alternates between Doolan and Morris: "Are you crying? / No, allergies. / Crying!" 81/2 × 53/4 in.


LOT 1018

A pair of color photographs

One photograph of Doolan waiting outside Morris's Brooklyn apartment, at 11A Sherman Street, Brooklyn. The other of Morris waiting outside Doolan's West Village apartment at 84 Grove Street. 4 × 6 in.


LOT 1019

Mitford, Nancy

The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate (Modern Library Edition, 1982), hardcover edition. No dust jacket. Inscription reads: "Loaned to Lenore on the eve of my departure to London, Dec 11 2002. To be claimed upon my return.

Don't lose my place H." 6 × 9 × 11/4 in.


LOT 1020 A group of eleven postcards

Eleven postcards sent from Morris to Doolan over the course of Morris's three-week trip to England, December 11–30, 2002. Sizes vary.


1. Postcard of Diana, Princess of Wales. Postmarked December 12, 2002, from London, England. Verso reads in part: "Going I know not whither and fetching I know not what, for my gray-eyed princess. Your Irish-Catholic denial has whetted my desire. (Wait, are you Catholic?) Your gauntlet of a mere ten postcards is child's play. Your promise of surrender, my ever-fixed mark. You will certainly have all ten, fear not! This first one I write to you from the Charlotte St. Hotel, over my breakfast kippers. Thinking fearsomely fondly of you and not looking forward to these bleak weeks ... "

2. Postcard of the photograph "Little Red Riding Dior" by Jack Pedota, 1992. Postmarked December 13, 2002, from London, England. Verso reads in full: "Buttertart, received your charming Polaroid this morning. Not sure about the dress. Too simple, too black, too sober for you, although you DO look very nice in it. Am wild with jealousy of every man (and some of the women) at your office party. x" (See Lot 1021 for Doolan's Polaroid.)

3. Postcard of the Balthus painting Sleeping Girl (1943). Postmarked December 14, 2002, from London, England. Verso reads in part: "Attended an opening at the Tate last night. Snuck away from the wine swilling to look at a lovely Balthus on 3rd floor. Imagined that you were beside me and we were looking at it together ..."

4. Postcard of a double-decker bus. Postmarked December 16, 2002, from London, England. Verso reads in full: "Dearest Lenore: / Thank you for your letter (I love your letters!). Am sending something over the pond to you pronto, so look out for it. Will use the parental address as instructed. Here's my sked: / Dec. 19–23 Charlotte St. Hotel 15–17 Charlotte St. London W1T 1RJ / Dec. 23–28 (with Mum) Orchard House, Barkestone-Le-Vale, Notts, England WR12 7DU phone: 01386.852255 / I will call you, and of course call me anytime (I don't mind being woken!). I miss you so much, Hal."

5. Postcard of the Man Ray photograph "Lips," c. 1930. Postmarked December 21, 2002, from London, England. Verso reads in part: "Pissing rain here, work boring, missing you and thinking of your face all the time / all the time / all the time ..."

6. Postcard of the Elizabeth Salon, Belvoir Castle. Postmarked December 25, 2002, from Nottinghamshire, England. Verso reads in part: "Thank you, oh thank you for your lovely package! I was beginning to think I'd imagined our whole affair, that I was a lunatic sending these cards off into the ether. I have put the little kangaroo on my bedside table, and immediately gobbled the buttertart. The CD has been on heavy rotation in my rented Peugeot, the lavender shirt fits perfectly, and all of the reading material is wonderful. I look forward to a closer inspection on the plane back to America, you. / Merry Christmas darling."

7. Postcard of The Kiss by Auguste Rodin. Postmarked December 28, 2002, from Worcestershire, England. Verso reads: "Nose, hand, wrist, penis, lips, and toes. Longingly, Harold." Drawn in ballpoint pen are the outlines of aforementioned parts.

8. Postcard of the lithograph Elizabeth I 1966 by Gerhard Richter, postmarked December 27, 2002, from Nottinghamshire, England. Reads in full: "They say much can be learned about a man's capacity for a loving relationship by the way he treats his mother. My mother and I are not close, but I do call her every week, and I write you this postcard on the train back from X-mas spent with her. We nibbled prawn cocktail and quaffed ginger beer at the Red Lion every night. Am dying for a Bloody Mary. Missing you my sweetest tart. Hal X. P.S. hope that last card wasn't too much, am fretting it a bit."

9. Postcard of Anne Boleyn from the National Portrait Gallery. Postmarked December 22, 2002, from London, England. Verso reads in part : "Two in the same day! I wonder which will arrive first ..."

10. Postcard of the Nan Goldin photograph "Joey and Andres in Bed, Berlin, 1992." Postmarked December 22, 2002, from London, England. Verso reads in part: "'Love, O careless Love ...' I hear my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell ..." The quote is from "Skunk Hour" by Robert Lowell, one of Morris's favorite poets.

11. Postcard of London at night. Postmarked December 29, 2002, from London, England. Reads in full: "I fly tomorrow!! Am looking forward to our reunion — St. Regis! SWANKY! XH"

LOT 1021

A Polaroid photograph

A photograph of Doolan in a cocktail dress. A Post-it note affixed to the back reads: "Had to buy a new dress this weekend for the office Christmas party! — what thinks you?" 31/2 × 4 in.


LOT 1022

A mix CD

A homemade mix CD made by Doolan for Morris titled "Seasonal Ditty's for Hittymitty from Butterbitty." Song list: "Snowflake Music," Mark Mothersbaugh / "Winter a Go-Go," Yo La Tengo / "Fox in the Snow," Belle and Sebastian / "Song for the Myla Goldberg," The Decemberists / "Makin Angels," Destroyer / "Maybe This Christmas," Ron Sexsmith / "Let's Not and Say We Did," Silver Jews / "At the First Fall of Snow," Hank Williams / "Aliens (Christmas 1988)," The Rheostatics / "Flowers in December," Mazzy Star / "Better Be Home Soon," Crowded House / "Guiding Light," Television / "Come in from the Cold," Joni Mitchell / "Bells On," Sloan / "The Fairest of the Seasons," Nico. 43/4 × 51/2 in.


LOT 1023

A postcard

A postcard of the RCA Building, New York City, sent to Morris from Doolan. Verso reads in full: "THAT'S TEN! See you at the St. Regis, 6 pm December 30. L." 6 × 4 in.


LOT 1024

A group of objects

A VHS tape of The Party (MGM video, 1994). A paperback copy of the screenplay for Masculine Feminine by Jean-Luc Godard (Grove Press, 1969). A pair of antique pineapple salt and pepper shakers. A Gucci vintage silver belt. All in good condition, some wear to the book. A homemade card reading: "A few of my favorite things ... tho' you are nearing the top of that list! Happy Christmas, lovingly, H."


LOT 1025 A group of objects

A book titled Out of a Handkerchief by Frances E. Jacobs (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co., 1942). A book titled Conjuring as a Craft by Ian Adair (David & Charles: Newton Abbot, 1970). A small stuffed kangaroo. A sterling silver heart-shaped toast rack. A green calfskin Smythson of Bond Street "Travels and Experiences" notebook. A card reading: "Merry XXOOXXmas, xx LD."


LOT 1026

An agenda

A Smythson of Bond Street Day-to-a-page Diary, 2002. The December 30 page reads in part: "Mani/pedi, 11:30 / Tulips / Pick up prescription / Cleaners / R. Lowell / butterscotch éclairs / eggs / double cream / Blancmange due / Write Hugh? / Cancel w/Jess / coffee / soy latte / rice cake / bran muffin, Diet Coke / mince tart (2). Facing page reads: "Lemon bar / tea / coffee / popcorn / avocado / crabcakes / panettone." 71/2 × 51/2 in.


LOT 1027 A handwritten note and envelope

A note on St. Regis stationery, in Doolan's hand. Reads: "Please join me in room 1045. × L." 81/4 × 6 in.


Included in lot is a St. Regis envelope with various inscriptions on the back reading: "Come to room 1045" / "Am in room 1045" / "Meet me in room 1045" / "See you in room 1045"

LOT 1028 A pair of men's pajamas

One pair of men's pajamas from Brooks Brothers. Royal blue. Some wear, some holes and stains. Size M.


LOT 1029


Mousepad printed with a photograph of two éclairs on a plate, made by Morris for Doolan, January 2003. Some wear. 73/4 × 9 in.

Not illustrated.


LOT 1030

A St. Regis Umbrella

A brown-and-white St. Regis Hotel umbrella. Good condition, some wear. Length 29 in.

$10–20 Included in lot is a photograph of Doolan on her street holding the umbrella. 6 × 4 in.

LOT 1031 A pair of handwritten letters

A handwritten letter from Doolan to Morris, dated February 5, 2003, on New York Times letterhead. Reads in full, with drawings: "Darlingest Hal, Lunch at desk again: cafeteria sushi, iced tea, pound cake, and yogurt. Am working on story about artisanal balsamic vinegar. nb NOT good on sushi ... Thinking of you in L.A. on set ... possibly chicken caesar salad, craft service grilled reuben, or a taco from Poquito Mas. Missing you very much, your Buttertart." 101/2 × 71/4 in.

A handwritten letter on Château Marmont letterhead, dated February 10, 2003. Reads in full: "Dear Bttrtrt: Close! I have been living on cobb salads and fries from room service. Helmut Newton complimented me on my pants this morning in the lobby! Love my room. Wonderful pink and yellow tiles in the loo ... See Polaroids. Have requested the Times so's I can read your section. Makes me miss you terribly. Miserably, Hrld." 81/4 x 6 in.


Included in lot are three Polaroids of the bathroom in room 29.

LOT 1032


A fortune-cookie fortune, kept by Morris in his wallet, reading: "In life, it's good not to get too comfortable." 21/4 × in.

Not illustrated.


LOT 1033 A printout of an e-mail containing flight information

A printout of an e-mail exchange between Doolan and Morris. Reads in full:

From: To: Subject: Arrivals!

13 Feb 03 / 209 / New York, JFK 11:30am / Long Beach, CA 2:43pm 16 Apr 03 / 212 / Long Beach, CA 12:55pm / New York, JFK 9:10pm On Feb 11, 2003 at 2:10am hmorris256 wrote: Great! fingers crossed, missing you. H On Feb 10, 2003 at 3:39pm lenore_doolan wrote: Hal, Just got your message, will try to arrange for someone to fill in. Will keep you posted. Visions of valentines!! xo Lenore

81/2 × 11 in.

Not illustrated.


LOT 1034

A handwritten list

A handwritten list on the back of a Con Edison bill envelope. Reads: "Hoch y bring / Carr's crackers / Green dress?? / Cetaphil / Do napkins / Coffee / Orange / Kit kat / tuna sandwich / almonds." 81/4 × 4 in.

Not illustrated.


LOT 1035 A pair of linen napkins

A pair of vintage linen napkins embroidered by Doolan, one with the initial L and the other with H encircled in hearts. 14 × 14 in.


LOT 1036

A handwritten note

A handwritten note on Château Marmont stationery. Reads: "Room 29 / x H." 4 X 71/2 in.



Excerpted from Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry by Leanne Shapton. Copyright © 2009 Leanne Shapton. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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