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Quiet Man star Maureen O'Hara's secret love letters sell for £60k

By Nick Bramhill

Published 01/12/2016

Maureen O’Hara wears the tweed jacket in The Quiet Man.
Maureen O’Hara wears the tweed jacket in The Quiet Man.
Maureen O'Hara with John Wayne

Maureen O'Hara's legacy as one of the most iconic stars of Hollywood's golden era has been further cemented after an auction of the late Irish actress's personal belongings sold for almost £360,000.

Wealthy bidders from all over the world, including Ireland, gathered at the Bonhams New York auction on Tuesday for the 'Estate of Maureen O'Hara' sale - a vast collection of 240 items, including letters, scripts, clothing, jewellery and treasured religious artefacts.

A cache of secret love letters which were sent to the Quiet Man star by the movie's director John Ford proved the top attraction, selling for over £60,000.

Almost all of the intimate, never-before-seen letters -which infatuated Ford wrote in the months before filming of the award-winning picture began in Cong, Co Mayo in 1951 - were still in their original envelopes.

Dublin-born O'Hara, who had first met Ford on the set of the 1941 movie How Green Was My Valley, had planned to destroy the love letters upon her death, but in later years changed her mind.

Unsurprisingly, personal items associated with The Quiet Man, O'Hara's most celebrated picture in which she starred alongside John Wayne, attracted the most bids.

O'Hara's personal and heavily-annotated script from the 1952 movie sold for £40,000, while a tweed jacket worn by her character Mary Kate Danaher sold for just over £13,000.

Another highlight was her pair of Meissen porcelain, floral-encrusted covered vases which made £25,000 - 10 times the estimate.

Just a handful of the 240 items that went under the hammer failed to sell, including the jaunting car used to carry the Quiet Man's cast and crew members from their lodgings in Cong to the film set - which had been tipped to fetch a seven-figure sum.

Speaking after the auction, Bonhams spokesperson Catherine Williamson said: "The Irish style icon's personal effects were volleyed between phone, internet and a healthy crowd of in-room bidders from Ireland, Europe, South America and Asia.

"It's clear that O'Hara's appeal is evergreen - she speaks just as much to young movie-goers as to those who saw her when her films first premiered.

"She had a fantastic sense of style and her clothing and accessories proved particularly popular - often selling for as many as 10 times their low estimates."

O'Hara, who starred in 64 movies from 1939 onwards and who was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2014, was 95 when she died.

She passed away peacefully in her sleep in Idaho in October last year.

Belfast Telegraph

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