Did you dream of owning a little piece of Joan Rivers after the posthumous Christie’s auction last year, but couldn’t quite fathom paying several thousand dollars for a silver dog bowl? Maybe you’ve been stalking a brooch advertised as having once been hers on a resale site lately, but can’t quite bring yourself to pull the trigger, because honestly, how hard is it to take any piece of random costume jewelry and say it belonged to Joan Rivers? Could Joan herself even say for sure?
Well, now another opportunity to claim a piece of Jewish history for your own has arisen, and we at Tablet would be remiss if we didn’t alert you to it: Joan Rivers’s Seder plate is going up for sale. According to The New York Times, it has been acquired by Jonathan Greenstein, the operator of the premier (and self-proclaimed only) auction house in the United States dealing exclusively with the appraisal and sale of antique Judaica. The item will go on the block April 24, six days after the end of Passover this year, but who’s counting? The bone China plate itself is blue and white Spode, very nice and unchipped, and dating back to the 1980s—but you may have to kasher it yourself, depending on how stringent your standards are.
And what can you expect to pay for such an artifact to grace your own Seder table of 2018? Greenstein notes that normally, a Seder plate of this age and manufacturer would run you about a hundred bucks—or free if you happen to be visiting your mother who muses to you that “maybe you’d like to have some people over for Passover this year, or next year, or some year,” and she’s looking to make some room in the basement anyway, so why don’t you take it? Given this particular piece’s provenance and the stories it could tell if it miraculously came to life one day, Greenstein said, “This one is worth about $5,000 because it belonged to her.” And this is the guy who sold Sammy Davis Jr.’s menorah, so he should know.
My point is: Hang on to your tax refund this year if you’re lucky enough to get one. And if you do, sometime next year, you could be carefully spooning out your grated horseradish in exactly the same place Joan Rivers’s housekeeper used to do it. Otherwise, if you’re looking to celebrate iconic Jewish womanhood at your next Seder, you can just pop down to the grocery store and pick up an orange. I’m not sure what it means exactly, but it seems to mean something to my mother.