Some love letters Leonard Cohen wrote to his one-time girlfriend more than 50 years ago have been sold at auction, fetching five times the price initially estimated.
CBC News reports that famed auction house Christie’s revealed on Thursday, that the letters, written to Marianne Ihlen, sold for a combined $1.2 million.
Cohen and Ilhen — who was the inspiration behind such classic Cohen songs as “Bird on a Wire”, “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” and”So Long, Marianne” — lived together on the Greek island of Hydra during the early 1960s, a period that proved to be an intensely creative one for the young poet, then in his 20s.
The highest price for an individual letter went for one Cohen wrote in 1960, in which he describes being “alone with the vast dictionaries of language,” which sold for $75,000 — significantly topping the original high estimate of $13,000.
Meanwhile, a 1964 letter that includes Cohen’s complaint that he is “famous but empty” sold for more than $46,000.
Ihlen passed away in Oslo, Norway, in July 2016 at age 81; Cohen died a few months later, in November of that same year, aged 82.
According to CBC News, the letters were sold by Ihlen’s family; the identities of the buyers were not revealed.
In addition to the letters, an Italian bronze bell dating from either the 15th or 16th century that hung in the Hyrdra home that Cohen and Ihlen shared sold for over $107,000; the bell is believed to have inspired the iconic line, “There is a crack, a crack in everything,” from Cohen’s 1992 song “Anthem”.
The top lot in the five-day online auction was an Italian bronze bell dating from the 15th or 16th century that hung in the Hydra home that Cohen and Ihlen once shared. It sold for more than $107,000 compared to a pre-sale estimate of up to $16,000.
The bell is believed to have inspired the lines, “There is a crack, a crack in everything” in Cohen’s 1992 release Anthem.