Rubell 54 Collection at Auction

Steve Rubell's private collection of memorabilia from his nightclub, Studio 54, will be auctioned in Florida on January 19.

There are tons of celebrity photos, drink tickets, invitations and several copies of a two-album disco compilation called "A Night At Studio 54" that is estimated to sell (in a bundle with five other LPs) for $200 - $300.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social network are always in the mood for a fun party. So here is your ticket to bid on the front door reservation book, which provides lists of approved guests, including who pays for admission (estimate $2000 - $3000).

"Studio 54 made Halloween in Hollywood look like a PTA meeting," noted frequent celebrity attendee Lorna Luft.

The auction includes hundreds of paparazzi photos of celebrities including Richard Gere, Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren, Sylvester Stallone, Joan Rivers, Ryan O'Neal, Farrah Fawcett, Brooke Shields, Bianca Jagger, Halston, Truman Capote, Liza Minnelli, Andy Warhol, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson & Elton John.

Also offered at auction are original invitations to special events, VIP drink tickets, Studio 54 guestbook and other ephemera, including many handwritten celebrity letters.

The collection includes original works of fine art such as a bronze dollar sign sculpture by Andy Warhol, a monumental painting of Steve by Michael Vollbracht, several Warhol polaroid's and more.

Consummate Host

Steve and his brother Don Rubell, the notable Miami art collector and founder of the Rubell collection, spent their childhoods with their parents in Brooklyn.

While an undergraduate student at Syracuse University, the future club king met Ian Schrager, who became a lifelong friend and business partner.

In April 1977, Rubell and Schrager opened Studio 54 in the old CBS television studio on West 54th Street that the network was selling.

Rubell became a familiar face in front of the building, turning people down at the door and only letting in those who met his specific standards. Rubell also dealt with the club's celebrity patrons, ensuring that they were thrown lavish parties. His tactics worked, and the club made $7 million during its first year.

In December 1978, Studio 54 was raided after Rubell was quoted as saying that only the Mafia made more money than the club brought in.

In June 1979, the club was raided by authorities who charged Rubel and Schrager with tax evasion, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy for reportedly skimming nearly $2.5 million in unreported income from the club's receipts.

A second raid occurred in December 1979, and on January 18, 1980, they were sentenced to three and a half years in prison and a $20,000 fine each for the tax evasion charge.

Studio 54 was sold in November of that year for $4.75 million.

Once released from prison, Rubell and Schrager purchased the Executive Hotel on Madison Ave and renamed it Morgan's.

Rubell later opened the Palladium, a large dance club famous for displaying art by Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, and considered central to the New York club scene in the 1980s.

In 1985, after discovering he had contracted AIDS, Rubell (who was closeted for most of his life) began taking AZT, but his illness was furthered by his continued drug usage and drinking, which affected his already compromised immune system.

Rubell died on July 25, 1989, with the official cause of death listed as hepatitis

The auction also includes art and modern design from the period.

The Auction will be held at Palm Beach Modern Auctions, 417 Bunker Rd., West Palm Beach, Florida, 12 noon EST, January 19, 2013. FL Lic. #AU4083 & #AB2905.

Here is the link to the action house home page and online catalog.