Your Mama only read it this week in The Hollywood Reporter but several months ago multi-billionaire media maven Oprah Winfrey told her own O Magazine that her 23,000 square foot Neo-Georgian mega-mansion in Montecito, CA, was about to get a complete decorative re-do because the European antique-filled, sherbet-toned situation just isn't her thing anymore. What she actually said was "it was all very grand, but it wasn't very true to myself," and that, "the thing that had been missing from all the beautiful places I'd ever lived in, was me!"
What?!? First of all, we're not sure we understand what that actually means but, secondly, do you mean to tell Your Mama and all the gazillions of people whose lives hang on your every book suggestion, Miz Winfrey, that all these years you've been a fantastically rich, self-made woman of mass-market super-influence and impressive philanthropic deeds you have lived in a slew of luxury residences—including this place in Montecito you called The Promised Land—that did not feel to you like an authentic reflection of who you really are? Lady, pleeze. You did not really say that, did you?
Listen, children, we're all for refreshing or completely re-imagining the design and decor of one's home and we can completely understand if The Big O wants to shift towards something a little more understated and whole lot less formal. Have at it. Throw all that gilt-trimmed rich-granny shit out and and let your decorative freak flag fly. We love it. But, seriously, for Miz Winfrey to go on the public record, in her own magazine, and say that all that Old-Money-style decor on which she unquestionably spent a goodly sized (new) fortune did not reflect her real and true self seems to Your Mama to be, well, preposterously disingenuous. Nobody twisted her arm and made her buy Louis the This armchairs or a Louis the That inlaid marble chest so she should just put on her big girl pants and own it, okay?
As far as this cynical property gossip is concerned, her houses and their professionally executed interiors were—and are—terrifically accurate physical manifestations of exactly who she is and exactly who she wanted—and wants—people to think she is: a stately woman of extraordinary wealth and tremendous influence and power who created and for decades has maintained an essentially eponymous super-brand with trans-global reach and, yes, world-wide pop cultural domination. Why else, fer chrissakes, does a person pay $50 million for a 23,000 square foot house on 42 manicured acres in one of the most prestigious and expensive residential enclaves in all of the world and then hire a world-class carriage trade decorator to do it up like a baronial English country house with museum quality antiques?
In fairness, in the O article, which we read on Curbed, the tycooness did good-naturedly skewer herself regarding the curated snootiness of the decor. "Apparently, a hand embroidered pillow from the 1880s doesn't scream, 'Kick back and have a drink!'' she said; And, she went on, "it's not easy to do an entire library that says, 'Do not touch the books,' but somehow I managed." Well, that's all quite charming and ha-ha-hee-hee, but we wonder what The Promised Land's high-brow decorator, Anthony P. Browne, thought of those comments?*
Anyways, Miz Winfrey has decided to part with all her gilded mirrors, marble urns, and green and white gingham sofas that exactly match the green and white gingham fabric covered walls, and all the other probably ludicrously expensive things that she now feels are not a faithful representation of who she really is. Obviously a global superstar can't just have a yard sale like Pamela Anderson or Tori Spelling so Miz Winfrey's no longer wanted things will be sold off to the highest bidder at a highly-publicized auction because, well, doesn't everyone have a deep desire to get in a bidding war over one of the chat show queen's once treasured trinkets or baubles that she now disowns as being or having been an authentic decorative echo of her true self? We know it's probably unpopular and maybe even unkind to say out loud but it's almost more than Your Mama can bear to witness without a nerve pill and a gin & tonic or two. That said...
Public previews for Miz Winfrey's unwanted goods run October 30 through November 1 at the Santa Barbara Polo Club and Racquet Club in Montecito's less-lustrous neighboring seaside community of Carpinteria. The November 2nd sale, handled by Bev Hills-based Kaminski Auctions, will include all manner of odds and ends from Miz Winfrey's homes in Chicago, Hawaii, Indiana, and Montecito and the proceeds will benefit the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation College Fund. Glossy catalogs can be purchased through the auction house for fifty clams and, Your Mama predicts, will become coveted as a collector's item by collectors of celebrity auction catalogs.
The decorative overhaul of Miz Winfrey's Montecito mansion—a extreme home make over that is meant to be ready in time for her star-studded 60th birthday party next January and the one that will, presumably, be a carefully calibrated decorative duplicate of however it is Miz Winfrey sees her authentic self—is reportedly being handled by the extremely capable and accomplished lady-decorator Rose Tarlow, an internationally renown decorator/designer who is much prized by the deep-pocketed likes of David Geffen, Barbara Walters and Eli Broad for her subtle, sophisticated, and brutally expensive decorative ways.**
*With all due respect, it would seem extraordinarily accomplished high-society decorator Anthony P. Browne, the man responsible for the sherbet-y rich-granny day-core at The Promised Land and a man the people at Architectural Digest said Miz Winfrey considered her "aesthetic mentor," probably didn't think anything of his client's (re-)assessment of his handiwork since he passed on last October (2012).
**It was Miz Tarlow, in fact and according to the O article, who spurred the transformation of The Promised Land when she bluntly told Oprah '"This house has nothing to do with you."
photos: O Magazine, via Curbed