Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Estate Raises Over $800,000 for Washington National Opera

The supreme court justice, who died of cancer in September 2020, was a lifelong opera aficionado and a committed audience member at the Washington National Opera

(Photo credit: Steve Petteway)


A sale of the estate of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has resulted in the generous sum of $803,650 being raised for the Washington National Opera. The auction house that tendered the sales, The Potomack Company, had originally estimated that the total yield would be somewhere between $50,000 and $80,000.

"We were just really blown away by the interest," said Potomack's owner Elizabeth Haynie Wainstein, who was responsible for the sale of 150 items.

The single item with the largest value was a drawing of Ginsburg by the artist Eleanor Davis, which was originally printed in a 2015 article in The New York Times. At Ginsburg's request, Davis had provided a signed copy of the drawing, to be hung with pride of place in Ginsburg's office.

Another picture that fetched a large sum of money was one by Ginsburg's then-young grandson, Paul Spera. The drawing, which depicted Ginsburg as the Statue of Liberty, contains a personal note that reads "Bubbie [Grandma] of Liberty," and sold for $12,000 at auction.

Other big-ticket items included one of Ginsburg's black mink coats, which had her name sewn into the pocket. That sold for $16,000, while Ginsburg's 2002 National Women's Hall of Fame medal fetched $30,000.

The sales would be "a huge help this year as we try to cultivate the return of our audience," said Francesca Zambello, the Artistic Director of the Washington National Operaand a personal friend of Ginsburg's.

In honor of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Washington National Opera opened its 2021-2022 season with "Come Home: A Celebration of Return." The performance featured excerpts from Ginsburg's favorite operas, commemorating her great contributions to American ideals.

"Ruth Bader Ginsburg was one of the greatest advocates for our art form," added Zambello. "She also made all of us better artists through her high principles and inspiring way of living. With her in our audience, we wanted to do our best to elevate ourselves to her level."