The New York Historical Society has so many random objects in its collection– a spare set of spoons from a wealthy family, a keg stand from 1825 — that sometimes it seems more like New York City’s attic than a museum.
Now, it is about to receive a whole new set of memorabilia from one very special New Yorker: Bill Cunningham. The personal effects of the legendary New York Times style photographer, who died last year, have been donated to the museum by Cunningham’s friends, John Kurdewan and Louise Doktor.
Among the items being donated include Cunningham’s personal library of more than 200 books (complete with his notes), his Biria bicycle, his Nikon camera, his famous blue jacket, a custom-made bicycle helmet that Bergdorf Goodman gave him, his Living Landmark presentation plate from 2009, which was made by Cartier, his Medal of Excellence from Carnegie Hall and his millinery supplies from his time as a hat designer. A selection of these items will be on display at the New York Historical Society starting this spring.
While these objects may have a happy fate, the fate of Cunningham’s small personal fortune of $4 million is less assured; both his niece and Doktor are laying claim to it in a lawsuit.