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Leonard Cohen’s love letters to Marianne Ihlen auctioned for almost $1.3 million

A collection of Leonard Cohen’s letters to Marianne Ihlen were sold at a Christie’s auction for $876,000 ($1,274,580 AUD).

The majority of corresponding letters, provided by Ihlen’s family, spanned almost 20 years, from 1960-1979.

A collection of 50 love letters from Leonard Cohen and lover Marianne Ihlen have been sold for nearly $1.3 million at a recent auction.

This insightful collection included 50 letters which were all individually sold. Their auction prices went far beyond the pre-sale estimates, a single letter from December 1960 was anticipated to go for $7,000 ($10,185 AUD) and instead reached $56,250 ($81,843.75 AUD). Another letter from 1964, with Cohen’s words, “I am famous but empty”, sold for $35,000 ($50,925 AUD). Within the 50 notes, many are sent from all over the world, from the Chelsea hotel, Cuba and Hydra.

Ilhen and Cohen’s romance began in Greece during 1960 and soon began to live together on the island, Hydra. She was the inspiration for many of his songs including; Bird on a Wire, So Long Marianne and Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye. Their relationship came to a close as Cohen’s music career began though she remained a muse within many of his lyrics. Even after their parting, there are still many exchanges talking of their ‘enduring love’. The pair died in 2016 within months of each other.

Christie’s described the correspondence as fascinating glimpses of the young poet’s yearnings and artistic struggle’s… They contain numerous lines and passages that sound like early drafts of songs, with each one giving new context, new understanding, to his oeuvre.”

A documentary on their romance, Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love, directed by Nick Broomfield will be released next month at the Sundance Film Festival.

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June 15, 2019