Unknown Ernest Hemingway trove hints at love affair with socialite, auction set for June

Ernest Hemingway’s 1959 trip to Pamplona, Spain, evidently produced more than an essay for Life Magazine. A trove of never-before-seen memorabilia from Hemingway’s nine-month trip, heading to auction in June, hints at an affair with U.S.-born socialite Beatrice Diaz Davis.

The trove includes more than 100 items including autographs, letters, swords, photographs, Matador items, collections, paintings, rugs, furniture and more collected by socialite Beatrice Diaz Davis, whom Hemingway met during the trip. Life Magazine hired Hemingway to return to Pamplona to write an article titled “The Dangerous Summer,” a two-part essay profiling two of the most famous Matadors of the day, Luis Miguel Dominguin and Antonio Ordonez, who fought bulls “mano a mano.” 

Accompanied by his fourth wife, Mary, who was not fond of the bullfighting circuit, Hemingway stayed at “La Consula,” an estate owned by his friend Nathan “Bill” Davis. It was there Hemingway met Beatrice, Davis’s ex wife. “Bea,” as she was known, was a socialite, born in the United States to immigrant Columbian parents. She soon caught Hemingway’s fancy and is allegedly became his “consort and friend” on many of his trips following the bulls that summer.  Bea saved nearly every item from the pair’s travels.

Bea was photographed with Hemingway as well as various Matadors of the day. She even received as a gift a bull’s tail from the famous horseback-riding bullfighter Hermanos Peralta, which is also included in the sale.

Hemingway died in Cuba in 1961. Bea remarried and moved back to the states where she passed away in 2006, leaving the trove of previously unknown memorabilia to her daughter.

Terry’s Auction of Maryville, Tenn., will sell the entire collection June 4, 2011 at its gallery and online via Proxibid.com. General manager Cissy Allen said Terry’s Auction is known more for its weekly antiques and collectibles auction than celebrity memorabilia.

“We’ve never had anything like this,” Cissy told Antique Trader. “If it wasn’t for [the consignor] liking us so well, we wouldn’t have it. She trusts us to do the research and take care of her. She plainly said her mother and Hemingway were boyfriend/girlfriend. She was his mistress.”

The trove includes swords, autographs and several personal photographs of Bea and Hemingway collected during the visit. The sale also offers Spanish antiquities, such as a 12th century shape note illuminated parchments, carved Saints, Mayan artifacts, rare rugs, furniture, books, tickets, costumes, art, and other items from Madrid and Pamplona.

For more information on the Ernest Hemingway collection of Beatrice Diaz Davis Marshall, visit Terry’s Auction or call 865-681-7228 or 973-4577 or 216-7672.

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