Commentary: Barrel organs, bedazzled jackets: A guide to the Siegfried & Roy estate sale

It is no longer possible to be as famous and rich as Siegfried & Roy were famous and rich. That’s neither a good thing nor a bad thing, but it’s important to remember the cultural conditions that made it possible for two poor German immigrants – one a genius of magic, the other with an uncanny connection to animals – to settle on a cruise ship and combine talents to become the most colorful, combative and longest-running act in Las Vegas history. For one thing, the conditions were tighter.

Whether you liked the act or not (unfortunately I never saw it), since its peak in the 1980s, Siegfried Fischbacher – the blonder, more delicate – and Roy Horn – tawny, brunette, with a bristly gorse beard – came and went – were real icons . Their names were synonymous with the idea of ​​big-scale entertainment. Her images were synonymous with big cats – the white tigers that formed the cornerstone of her act. They worked, played, and lived with the exotic animals for decades, making them disappear, levitate, and so on, while wearing complementary, custom-made costumes that were sprinkled with sequins and beads and had shoulders and lapels that fanned out god knows where.

Two men in rich cloaks appear on the stage.

Siegfried & Roy’s costumes were part of the high drama and spectacle of their performances.


The glitzy glamor bubble suddenly burst in 2003 after Horn was attacked onstage by one of the tigers. The official story goes that he suffered a minor stroke during the performance and confused the animal, who then tried to “help” Horn by dragging him off the stage by the neck like a cub.

After 30 years of sold-out, trouble-free shows – part of the couple’s exclusive alliance with MGM the Mirage – it’s clear why not. Horn died of complications from COVID-19 in May 2020. Fischbacher died of pancreatic cancer just a few months later. They were 75 and 81 years old respectively.

The duo’s estate, including personal items from their homes and closets, will be auctioned off at Bonhams this week. I viewed the sale with Helen Hall, the auction house’s director of popular culture, which is incredible work. Here’s some of their stuff.

A set of decorative chairs.

A set of intricate dining chairs. Perfect for your next dinner party.


Lot 223: A set of 12 shell-inlaid Anglo-Indian wood dining chairs

The word “maximalist” would require new, alien, and yet-to-be-formed terms to describe the aesthetic projected by Siegfried and & Roy. In reality, their personal tastes were very different. The two maintained separate homes on a 100-acre lot in Nevada they named Little Bavaria. Roy lived in a cabin-style house filled with Gothic furniture and European art. Siegfried’s was sleek Midcentury Modern filled with glass, acrylic and 80’s stuff.

Large chairs and stained glass next to a bookshelf.

A photo of Siegfried & Roy’s jungle palace.

(Colton Soref; Bonhams)

These chairs are from a third house on the property. For meetings. “There was also a house on the property that was just for Roy’s mother,” says Hall. The shell work is so pretty and delicate, it’s like sitting in a white camellia flower.

An old barrel organ.

Maybe a barrel organ for your home?


Lot 287: A barrel organ

I can’t stress this enough. Every girl needs an old-fashioned barrel organ. “There’s actually a lot of interest in the organ,” says Hall. “We had to track down the manufacturer to find out what type of battery was needed. Twelve volts. Easy to find.”

What looks like a piece of the Berlin Wall.

Maybe a piece of the Berlin Wall?


Lot 66: A possible fragment of the Berlin Wall

For all their kitschy, accessible glamour, the boys knew that true luxury was about exclusivity. What’s harder to deal with than a “possible” fragment of the Berlin Wall in an exclusive gray-with-a-shot-red colorway? “For legal reasons, we have to use language in the articles,” says Hall. However, she adds with a smile, “We’re sure it’s authentic.”

A clock.

You could call this a timeless timepiece.


Lot 348: A Cartier ‘Tank Anglaise XL’ watch in stainless steel and gold

There is a a lot of of jewelry on sale. Much of this is customized with oversized jewels and images of big cats. This one is a testament to the duo’s playful approach to taste. The Cartier “Tank” watch is what an underpaid copywriter would describe as a piece of understated luxury. The XL version is anything but discreetly inflated. In person it looks like an oversized cartoon of a watch, which could cause the highest bidder to go wrong, but I can’t imagine pulling off this without a sense of humor.

A dazzling leather jacket.

A jacket for all occasions.


Lot 480: A pair of western jackets worn by Siegfried & Roy in the Stardust circa 1970’s and Frontier circa 1980’s

These exude Isabel Marant vibes. Wear yours with jeans and flats. I think you could get away with it.

A handsome set of luggage.

For someone on the go.


Lot 291: A group of nine leather luggage pieces from Modern Creation Munich, designed by Michael Cromer

There is a huge amount of luggage on sale. Some still have modest laminated address labels held in place by pieces of twine. Some are still in the original plastic wrap. All from the eye-catching German luxury brand Modern Creation Munich, known by the acronym MCM. The characteristic logo pattern, perfect for Siegfried & Roy. Louis Vuitton or Goyard suitcases would have been a bit too conservative for the proud new money duo. The curators of the auction divided the lots into several sets. This allegedly belonged to Siegfried and is the only one with a racket bag. Great for flexing on one of our many cracked and sun-bleached public tennis courts.

A religious icon.

An icon in more ways than one.


Siegfried & Roy were devout Catholics. “They had a little chapel in their house,” Halle says. “They were deeply religious. Siegfried’s sister was actually a nun.” Hall shares a 1978 photo of Siegfried & Roy, dressed in gold chains and crisp white denim pieces, lovingly flanking a young nun, Sister Dolore. There are several 19th century icons that Roy collected on his many shopping trips around Europe but I would recommend a signed Gandhi or Mother Teresa photograph which is also available.

A painting of a tiger in profile.

Tigers are on sale everywhere.


Lot 125: An Indian painting of a tiger

The collection contains paintings of tigers from almost every genre and art period, but this 9′ x 9′ canvas by an unknown artist is my favorite. Estimate is $300. Maybe I’ll just bid myself.

Prices in general seemed surprisingly low. “We value everything by its provenance and intrinsic worth, not necessarily by its owners,” Hall said. “Of course, if there’s an emotional connection, there’s a chance things will sell a lot better. But who knows? You could get a bargain.” Commentary: Barrel organs, bedazzled jackets: A guide to the Siegfried & Roy estate sale

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