Pittsburgh woman's letters from J.D. Salinger fetch $185,000

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An East End woman‘‍s collection of 41 signed letters from J.D. Salinger sold at auction today for $185,000 -- including the buyer’‍s premium -- to a bidder in the room at the Christie’‍s auction house in New York City.

The bidding, which started at $100,000 and involved several on-site bidders, peaked at a “hammer price” of $150,000 and never reached pre-sale estimates of $180,000 to $240,000. The auction of letters by American presidents, authors and others was webcast live at www.christies.com.

C.C. Smith was 15 years old when she began writing to Salinger, the author of “Catcher in the Rye” who spent the majority of his life in seclusion in Cornish, N.H. Their correspondence lasted for 10 years and she visited him once before he died Jan. 27, 2010. She honored his request for privacy by not revealing their friendship until after his death.

Ms. Smith‘‍s collection of 66 typed pages was the largest Salinger collection to be sold at auction. In 1999, a collection of 14 Salinger letters written to Joyce Maynard sold at auction at Sotheby’‍s for $156,500. The buyer later returned them to Mr. Salinger as a gift.

Lorri Drumm: ldrumm@post-gazette.com, 412-263-3771

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