The late singer Andy Williams, famous for his renditions of holiday favorites like "White Christmas" and "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," was also a noted collector of Navajo blankets, and in May 2013 his collection will be auctioned by Sotheby's.
According to a release from the auction house, the marquee piece is a Navajo First Phase Chief’s Wearing Blanket, one of just 50 known to exist. In fact, its thin red stripes overlaying a classic banded ground of natural ivory and brown and rich indigo blue show it to be a Bayeta First Phase blanket by, which is rarer still, with just 10 known to exist. It is predicted to fetch $200,000 to $300,000, a sizable chunk of the expected total for all items, which is in excess of $1 million.
“There are few groups of Navajo Blankets in private hands that have the depth and quality of The Andy Williams Collection," David Roche, Senior Consultant to Sotheby’s American Indian Art Department, said in a statement. "The comprehensive collection was started several decades ago when Andy Williams was one of just a handful of people looking to acquire such blankets. The striking palette and remarkable detail as well as the skill and craftsmanship required of the weavers has placed Navajo Blankets among the very finest and most sought after areas of all American Art.”
Williams, who died on September 25, was closely identified with the song "Moon River," and several Navajo blankets hung at his Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri. Others adorned his home and offices. His blankets were featured in a 1997-98 exhibition, "Navajo Weavings from the Collection of Andy Williams," at the St Louis Art Museum.