Seller Story: Joanna and Alan Rachins; Los Angeles, CA
“My husband Alan and I have been married for 40 years; he’s my partner in collecting things, and appreciating the beauty of things. Fortunately, his work as an actor on LA Law gave us the opportunity to be able to do that.
We actually have a painting that was done by Kathryn Jacobi, Dick Dysart’s wife, who was Alan’s co-star. We also have two paintings that were done by Erica Jong’s grandfather—Erica’s family and my family were close friends. We grew up together. Her mother gave the paintings to my mother, I think. They’re very beautiful; they’re very ethereal.
It’s very hard to get rid of things that you love, but we were downsizing slightly, and more than anything, we had so much! It was blocking the energy of anything new coming into our lives. And it was a great opportunity to share the love we had given all of these things.
My stepfather was a press agent who had very high profile clients, like the United States of America; he represented countries. He had an incredible eye, so he had this phenomenal collection, including the swan cradle. It has a whole history of royalty. I put flowers in it — real, dried, silk; it was always a conversation piece.
And then the snake part of it—that was pretty extraordinary. The snake is a symbol of the kundalini, which is the spiritual energy in every person that lies dormant at the base of the spine, coiled up. I’ve always been involved with spiritual life and spiritual practices—I’ve been to India, I teach meditation—and so to have that on this European antique was particularly amazing to me.”
Art Nouveau Wooden Accent Chair
Contemporary Power Loomed Area Rug After Joan Miró
Andantini Leather Duffle Bag
Mayan Carved Jasper and Sterling Silver Pendant Brooch
Framed Marc Chagall Postcards
Le Prince Jardinier Single Hand Grass Shears
"LA Law" Diary Prop
Wedgwood Dinner Plates
Italian Pansy Plates
Marc Chagall Lithograph "Invitation for Fables of Fontaine"
Set of Antique Silver Corn Holders
French Louis XV Style Chaise Lounge
Pair of Regency Style Upholstered Dining Room Chairs
Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Repoussé Locket
Signed Eve Tartar Mixed Media Art Piece "Crossings # 9"
Vintage Schiaparelli Aurora Borealis Collar Necklace
Antique French Provincial Swan Carved Cradle
Framed Tibetan Style Buddhist Painting
Men's Polo Leather Jacket
Beaded Evening Bags
Handwoven Kerman-Style Area Rug
Pair of Antique Louis XV Style Cane Back Side Chairs
Vintage Hindu Brass Head of Gauri Sculpture
Framed Primitive Needlepoint of Birds in a Field
Egyptian Style Bowl
Garnet Velvet Upholstered Ottoman
Pair of Signed Mordi Gassner Lithographs
Hand Carved Stone Figure
Vintage Giltwood Wall Clock
Samuel Mirsky Framed Watercolor
Antique Goldwork Tunic
Vintage Petite Italian Rococo Style Polycrhomed Side Chair
Collection of Vintage LP's
Carved Balinese Wood Totem
Vintage Hand Painted Tole Folding Screen
Jaeger Le Coultre "Atmos" Mantel Clock
Victorian Citrine Mourning Brooch
E. Vitali Framed Watercolor
Pair of Sienna Pink Marble Obelisks
Pair of Limoges Oyster Plates
Rococo Revival Victorian Settee with Ralph Lauren Upholstery
Antique Neoclassical Style Cut Glass Pedestal Candy Dish
Hand Wrought Cocktail Shaker
Vintage Mink Coat by Somper
LA LAW and More Director Chair Seatbacks
Green and Gilt Painted Bass Clef Tole Lamp
Vintage Botanical Print "Cinera cum flore" After Basilius Besler
Retro 1951 Sterling Silver writing Pen
Chippendale-Style Mahogany Upholstered Arm Chair
Vintage Green Bubble Patterned Glassware
Antique Bronze Buddha Head Statue
Set of Vietri Solimene Plates
Vintage Silver Plated Clam Shell Serving Tray
Group of "LA Law" Scripts
Pair of Vitruvian "Blowing A Kiss" Votive Holders
Women's Fleurette Cashmere Coat
Print of an Original Photograph of Frank Sinatra
Set of Antique Horace Woodward & Co Ltd. Place Card Holders
Group of Dinner Plates
Revised Drafts from "LA Law"
Gold Tone Lobster Brooch with Rhinestones
NBC Commemorative Glass Ball
Vintage Brass Trojan Horse with Rider Sculpture
Saul Steinberg "The New Yorker" Poster
Bone Carved Statue
Southeast Asian Buddhist Carved Stone Figurine
Kathy Jean Artist's Proof "Between the Wars"
Carved African Mask
Vintage Ronson Lighter
Your parents were collectors, and you and your husband are collectors; how do you make these artifacts feel like your own?
There’s this amazing Italian settee in the collection that I re-covered. It was very formal upholstery— satin. And I re-covered it with Ralph Lauren fabric. It’s a chocolate-y cotton that almost looks like corduroy that tones down the formality of it. I wanted everything to be accessible. I didn’t want it to be like a museum where you can’t touch anything, where you aren’t comfortable. It’s like with the swan cradle: you can imagine it in any palace, but you can also have it in your home!
You have plates from the storied Hollywood restaurant Ivy by the Shore—how did you end up with those?
I taught acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute, years ago. I was an actress and a protégé of Lee’s. Through his wife I met Lyn, who owns Ivy by the Shore with her husband. We went there a lot, and she had this amazing gift store. Everything comes from Europe; it’s really beautiful. These dishes, I just fell in love with them. I appreciate all these things as works of art—even down to the ceramic plates that I eat from.
How did you get into meditation?
In 1967 the Beatles and Donovan went to India to study with Maharishi, and they learned transcendental meditation. I was very into the Beatles. I was an actress and had just moved out to California for the second time. In one day, three different people told me that Maharishi was coming to town and giving a talk at a place called the Wilshire Ebell Theater. I began to study meditation and right away, I began to teach it. I had grown up Jewish, but not spiritual, and right away I knew that this was not only right for me—it was just right.
What do you look for in Buddhas or spiritual sculptures?
With Buddhas, it’s the expression on their faces that gives them value—if the expression is sublime and peaceful, if you are able to perceive an inner state of light coming from this statue, then the statue has a great deal of value. All these statues calm you, they have power. They are alive with a certain energy. To own one of those pieces is not just to own a piece of art: it is to own something that touches you, and has value by opening your heart to the beauty of your self, your life and the people around you.