Abell Auction Co. is proud to present the estate of Larry Flynt (1942–2021)
Thursday, February 9th, 2023
Abell Auction Co. is proud to present the estate of Larry Flynt (1942–2021), the iconic public figure who helmed the HUSTLER empire and worked tirelessly to expand the parameters of free speech in America. Featuring a collection of American slag glass lamps, art deco lighting, Empire furniture, appointments, and much more.
The objects of art in this sale were personally collected by Flynt, who was an aficionado of antiques and at one point owned an antique and collectibles store on Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles. The treasures on offer here adorned the legendary headquarters of Larry Flynt Publications, known as the Flynt Building, at the intersection of La Cienega Blvd. and Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills. Flynt acquired the ten-story modernist building in the mid-1990s and decorated his palatial offices with thousands of artworks, ranging from classically inspired paintings and Tiffany- and Handel-style lamps to marble and bronze statues. Items in this estate adorned the Flynt Building penthouse, furnished with more than 100 sitting areas, each with its own paintings, lamps, flowers, ornamental vases and gilded and carved furniture. These myriad objects of art reflect Flynt’s one-of-a-kind personality and luxurious lifestyle.
From a young age, Flynt was a keen provocateur with an eye for business. Born in 1942, he grew up in poverty in Kentucky and Indiana and dropped out of school at an early age. After stints in the armed forces and at a General Motors plant, he opened the first HUSTLER Club, in Dayton, Ohio, in the late 1960s. Flynt followed its success with a string of clubs across the state and in 1972 created a simple black-and-white newsletter to promote them. This newsletter evolved into HUSTLER Magazine, Flynt’s flagship adult publication, which became famous for its explicit photos, irreverent cartoons and political exposés. Nothing was off limits for HUSTLER.
Over the course of his lifetime, Flynt was involved in a great number of legal battles and became a champion of the First Amendment. In the most important of these actions, he took Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell all the way to the Supreme Court. The televangelist Jerry Falwell had sued for libel and emotional distress over a Campari ad parody published in HUSTLER depicting Falwell’s “first time.” In 1988 the Supreme Court Justices ruled unanimously in Flynt’s favor. First Amendment advocates cheered the decision as an expansion of the parameters and protections of free speech to solidly include parody and satire. As Flynt often said, “Free speech is not for the idea you love but for the idea you hate most.”
Flynt steadily built his publishing company into a business empire that now includes 60 retail stores, casinos, gentlemen’s clubs and the most adult broadcasting channels in the world. Remarkably, he did so from the confines of a wheelchair, the result of a 1978 assassination attempt over an interracial layout in HUSTLER Magazine. His eventful life and constant battle for free speech became the subject of Milos Forman’s 1996 Golden Globe-winning movie The People vs. Larry Flynt, starring Woody Harrelson.
Without a doubt, Flynt’s estate sale offers a unique opportunity to own not only beautiful treasures, but an important piece of American history.