Hefner and Hemingway Highlight New York Book Fair


The first Playboy (signed twice by Hef) offered by Lux Mentis at New York Antiquarian Book Fair along with an archive spanning 60 years.

The New York Book Fair happens every year in April at the Park Avenue Armory.   This fair is the largest  in the world with over 200 dealers from all corners of the globe coming together to sell books, manuscripts, autographs, maps and ephemera.  You are always amazed at all of the priceless rarities offered although the dealers do indeed manage to put a price on them.  Sometimes this price is staggering.  Take for instance Ernest Hemingway’s typewriter priced at $100K.  (I even pecked on a few of the keys…I wonder if any brilliance will rub off?)  The typewriter has his personal sticker and name on the case and reportedly was used to write the last of his great works.  

It was a surprise to see the the archives between Hugh Hefner and his high school and life long friend, Jane (Janie) Sellers, for sale there too.  The price tag for this piece of history is $250,000 and includes letters, original cartoons, invitations to the Mansion, news clippings about Hef, PB music, Form S1 for Playboy’s IPO and the first issue of Playboy signed twice by Hefner and much more.  In one of the letters concerning a return visit to Chicago, he writes, “That first night we went back and revisited the original Playboy Mansion.  I donated it to the Art Institute many years ago, but it is closed up now and will probably eventually be sold and converted into apartments.  The main ballroom, my bedroom and the study where I wrote “The Playboy Philosophy” were still in pretty good shape, but the secret panels didn’t work anymore.

The swimming pool was still intact but there was no water in it.  The underwater bar was still there too, but the Playmate’s pictures had disappeared long ago from the wall.”  Dealer Lux Mentis said he’s even talked to Hef about it.  It was a thrill to read the correspondence of this 60 year friendship.  He even talks to Janie about his penchant for blondes…who knew?

You never know who you’re going to see there either–this year Yoko Ono was in the crowd.  In year’s past, we’ve seen Mick Jagger, Martin Scorcese, Steve Martin and Whoopi Goldberg among others.   We stayed at the red-hot Standard Hotel in the Meat Packing District where there were lines every night waiting to get into the Boom Boom Room, Beer Garden and the Standard Grill Restaurant.  Here is a bird’s eye view of the rarest selections at this year’s fair and some hot spots around NY:

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