Thursday, 27 December 2007


A letter written by the Queen Mother more than 80 years ago expressing concern over the high cost of fashion while looking for a new wardrobe to wear to Australia will be auctioned.

In the letter - dated September 27, 1926, and contained in the archive of court dressmakers Mme Handley Seymour - Queen Elizabeth, then the Duchess or York, asks the firm to examine her next bill before sending it as she thought some items in the previous one were "rather too expensive".

"I think it would be a good thing if you would do this as my clothes have cost a terrible lot lately," the letter says, according The Daily Telegraph.

"And I shall have to get some for Australia.
"Naturally I want to get them from you and it would be most helpful if you could see that they are not too dear."

The auctioneers expect the letter to fetch between £150 and £250 when it goes on sale on January 30 at Hampton and Littlewood Auctions in Exeter. However, I estimate that it will go a fair bit higher.

Auction house director Rachel Littlewood said the letter revealed the Queen Mother's concern about the cost of her clothes in her role as a key member of the Royal family.

"Despite the family's wealth, it seems she did not want to be over extravagant in those hard days, when the population was struggling after the Great War," she told the newspaper.

Among other items in the sale is a diamond-set bar brooch and a card inscribed "Madame Handley Seymour, with memories of many lovely dresses during the last 20 years - including my wedding dress and Coronation dress - from Elizabeth R."

Saturday, 22 December 2007

$20m auction deal won on rock, paper, scissors game.

Britain's New Scientist magazine has announced
the strategy most likely to win a game of rock, paper,
scissors -- throw scissors first. The magazine said
research shows that rock is considered the post popular
choice in the game, so an opponent is likely to start
with paper, assuming that rock will be the first move
thrown, The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.

The publication offered alternate strategies for if the game
continues past the first round. "You could try the double
bluff, where you tell your opponent what you are going to
throw -- then do it," New Scientist said. "No one believes
you'll do it, so they won't play the throw that beats the
throw you are playing."

The Telegraph said the scissors-first approach helped auction house Christie's defeat rival house Sotheby's for a $20 million deal in 2005.

Representatives of Christie's, on the advice of an 11-year-
old girl, threw scissors against the Sotheby's team, which
threw paper. The two houses were instructed to face one
another in the game by a Japanese art collector who could
not decide which auction service to use.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

House party raises €200,000 for charity

House party raises €200,000 for charity

A charity auction in a private home featuring a painting by Bono and a sculpture by an American artist has raised over €200,000 for Amnesty and third world charity, Goal. The organisers exceeded their target by €100,000.
The auction took place in the Dublin, Killiney home of Olivia Gaynor and businessman Brian Long. The two works of art were the main items for auction but a range of other items also raised considerable money.

VIP tickets for next year's Monaco Grand Prix, a trip for two to the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados and a stay at a luxury villa were amongst the other items auctioned.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Hirst doodle makes £18,000.

I guess it should be no surprise that the most expensive living artist has very valuable doodles.

This was proven recently when Damien Hirst did a little ink sketch on a linen napkin from The Ivy restaurant.

It's a depiction of his diamond-encrusted skull, plus a couple of steaming coffee cups in the eye sockets and, of course, the all-important Hirst signature.

He donated the sketch to MacMillan Cancer Relief's "coffee art" auction, where it sold to a private collector for £18,000.

Town sold on eBay

You really can get everything on eBay, even your own “Unpopulated 1 House Texas Town."

Albert is not the first town to get sold on eBay, but it's the latest. Just north of San Antonio, Texas, it consists of 13 acres that houses a tavern, a dance hall, a tractor shed, a 3 bedroom house, and a couple peach and pecan orchards. There's no post office and no permanent residents, but it sold for $3.8 million dollars to a bidder from Italy -- which was well over the reserve price which was set at only $2.5 million.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Lafayette’s medal fetches over $5m at auction

A gold and enamel medal that once belonged to the American Revolutionary hero the Marquis de Lafayette was bought at Sotheby's auction on Tuesday for $5.26 million by France's Fondation de Chambrun.

Sold by Lafayette's descendants, the medal was given to the Frenchman in 1824 by relatives of America's first president George Washington, when Lafayette was 67 years old.

"We are thrilled with the results. This is the highest price ever paid for a medal," said David Redden, Sotheby's vice-president.

The one-inch (2.5 centimeters) diameter medal shows an eagle encircled by a laurel wreath will be exhibited at France's chateau de la Grange, of Gilbert du Motier, the current marquis de La Fayette.

The medal was awarded Lafayette a quarter-century after the death in 1799 of Washington, who as a general led US troops to victory in their battle for independence against Britain.

Own a bit of the Savoy Hotel.

In preparation for one of the largest hotel restorations in the history of London, The Savoy, will hold a unique auction that will allow members of the public the opportunity to purchase items from its past.

The auction will be overseen by Bonhams and includes a list of over 3000 lots including lighting, mirrors, silver and artwork.

A donation from the proceeds of the auction will go to benefit Farms for City Children (FFCC).

A £100 million restoration program will begin at the hotel today, and the auction will take place from 18th-20th December 2007

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Imperial Knockers auctioned.

A pair of knockers of Yuanmingyuan, an imperial summer resort sacked and destroyed in 1860 by British and French forces, were auctioned on Sunday despite the opposition of experts.

The knockers made in silver were knocked down by Beijing Rongbao Auction Ltd. at the price of 1.9 million yuan (256,441 U.S. dollars)

Experts said the knockers were rare since they were made for the royal family in the 1700s in the design of a taotei, a mythical ferocious animal, which was popular in the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100 BC-771 BC).

An expert from the Yuanmingyuan Society said the society objected the auction of Yuanmingyuan antiques that had been taken away to foreign countries, believing it would hinder efforts to bring the antiques back to the imperial garden.

Zong Tianliang, spokesman of the administration office of Yuanmingyuan, said that "the knockers were of historic value and it is good for them to return to where they were, instead of putting them under the hammer."

However, the company said the auction was approved by authorities and they had not received official objections from the administration office of Yuanmingyuan.

Located in northwest Beijing, construction on Yuanmingyuan began in 1709 and was finished in 1744. It was burned down by British and French troops in 1860. It was sacked and burned down again, after a partial restoration, in 1900 when the Eight-Power Allied Forces - - troops sent by Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Tsarist Russia, Japan, Italy and Austria -- occupied Beijing.

$54,000 Bottle of The 1926 Macallan Becomes Most Expensive Bottle of Scotch Ever Sold.

$54,000 Bottle of The 1926 Macallan Becomes Most Expensive Bottle of Scotch Ever Sold

Christie’s recently conducted the first auction of spirits to be held in New York since Prohibition. A large crowd gathered in the Christie’s saleroom at Rockefeller Center to watch this historic moment in auction history, and the total for the 100-lot selection of fine and rare whiskies, cognac, armagnac, calvados and Chartreuse fetched an excellent $304,800.

The top single-bottle lot of the day was a 1926 Macallan, which sold for an outstanding $54,000 and became the most expensive bottle of scotch ever sold by Christie’s anywhere in the world. Bottled in 1986 after spending a remarkable sixty years in wood barrel, the bottle was expected to fetch between $20,000 to $30,000.

It was bought by a New York private collector.

Elsewhere in the sale, a bottle of straight rye whiskey made from George Washington’s recipe for the first time in 200 years at the George Washington Distillery at Historic Mount Vernon in 2003 fetched $6,000.

Daguerreotype of John Brown makes $97,750 at auction

A rare daguerreotype of abolitionist John Brown was bought Friday by an unidentified bidder for $97,750, at an auction in Cincinnati on Friday.

It had been estimated at $60,000 to $80,000.

Experts say probably no more than a half dozen original daguerreotypes exist of the man best known for his 1859 raid on a federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Va.

A daguerreotype is an early form of photography popular in the 1840s and 1850s in which an image is formed on a chemically treated metal plate. The method was named for Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre, the French painter who developed the process.

The photo auctioned Friday was in Brown's family for five generations.

Brown was born in 1800 in Connecticut and was a free-state activist in Kansas before the October 1859 raid that he hoped would inspire an anti-slavery rebellion.
He was wounded while being captured, and was tried and hanged by the state of Virginia for treason two months later.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Napoleon Manuscript Page Makes $35,400

A single manuscript page from a love story written by Napoleon Bonaparte sold at auction in France on Sunday for $35,400, an auction house said.

The item up for sale was the first page of the final draft of Napoleon's 1795 short novel "Clisson and Eugenie," said the Osenat auction house, based in Fontainebleau outside Paris.

The novel, never published in Napoleon's lifetime, was loosely based on the author's brief romance with Desiree Clary, the sister of his brother's wife.

Scholars only realized the page's significance recently. It was long believed to be a page from a text Napoleon wrote about a historical figure named Clissot until Peter Hicks, a historian at the Fondation Napoleon, realized it was the beginning of his novel.

"Clisson and Eugenie," only 22 pages in its original handwritten form, was written when Napoleon was a 26-year-old general.

Desiree Clary was descended from the O’Cleary family of County Limerick. Cleary’s Stores, the huge department store in Dublin is from the same family. Desiree later married Marshal Barnadotte. They became King and Queen of Sweden and established the present royal line.

Friday, 7 December 2007


Last Sunday I conducted the annual auction at the Christmas Without Cruelty Fayre in Kensington Town Hall.

Here are a few of the results:

Arsenal pennant signed by the 1st team……. £100
Tony Benn’s pipe……..£140
Signed Simon Cowell photo……£32
Cricket bat signed by the Surrey Cricket team………. £65
Signed t-shirt by Melanie C…………. £35
Kate Winslet’s camisole………£40
Two necklaces from Joanna Lumley……£70
Graham Norton’s cufflinks………..£67
Diary signed by Annie Lennox……..£32
Pr of tickets to a Premiership Aston Villa home game……£42.
Pair of knickers donated and signed by Chrissie Hynde………£25

Truffle makes £161,000 at auction.

One of the biggest truffles found in half a century -- a 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) specimen unearthed in Italy late last month -- has sold for $330,000 at an auction held simultaneously in Macau, London and Florence.

The giant fungus was presented on a silver platter by an Italian chef flanked by Chinese models to the flash of cameras ahead of the auction at Macau's Grand Lisboa Hotel.

The winning bid on Saturday night came from Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho, bidding by phone via his partner Angela Leong, who was on stage with the auctioneer.

The South China Morning Post said Ho beat British artist Damien Hirst and Sheik Mansoor Bin Zayed al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi for the prized fungus.

Proceeds from the auction were donated to charities including the Caritas in China, Consortium for Street Children in the UK, and the Telethon in Italy.

The giant truffle, and one of about the same size sold to a Hong Kong bidder last year, were the largest found since a 2.5 kg truffle was found in 1954 and presented to former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Mozart music sheet for auction.

ONE of only two surviving manuscript leaves from one of Mozart's greatest compositions has been found in a private collection.

It is the cadenza for the first movement of the Sinfonia Concertante in E flat for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, K364, the 1779 masterpiece that catapulted him into the ranks of the world's greatest musicians.

It is the most important single leaf in the composer's hand to have appeared on the market for decades.

Although a single sheet, it comes from Mozart's greatest work for the violin and what is widely regarded as the greatest work by anyone for the viola.

It is due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London on Tuesday and is likely to beat the auctioneer's pound £100,000 estimate.

The reverse of the sheet will particularly interest scholars as it bears the playing parts for two horns, again in Mozart's hand, for two unidentified pieces.

Simon Maguire, senior specialist in Sotheby's music department, said: "The Sinfonia Concertante is not only one of Mozart's greatest works, it is also the key work that saw the young composer attain the level of musical accomplishment that has defined his reputation ever since."

The Sinfonia Concertante was composed when Mozart was 23 years old.

All that survives of the original score are the two leaves containing the two cadenzas and it is one of these that has now emerged.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Sex for Charity auction

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A Chilean prostitute has auctioned 27 hours of sex to raise money for the country's largest charity during an annual fund-raising campaign.

Maria Carolina became an overnight celebrity in the conservative Roman Catholic country, making news headlines and appearing on talk shows since she made her unusual donation to the televised charity event, which runs for 27 hours starting on Friday evening.

"I've already auctioned off the 27 hours of love," Maria Carolina told Reuters on Wednesday, saying she had raised about $4,000. "One of my clients already paid. It seemed like a good deed to him."

Adult prostitution is legal in Chile. Chile's two-day Teleton fundraiser is endorsed by television stars and aims to raise funds for poor, disabled children.

Maria Carolina, who advertises her services on the Internet, defended her money-raising scheme.

"There are people who are going to be donating money that's a lot more questionable than mine," she said. "The only thing I did was publicize it."

Rare book 'bears image of hanged priest's face'

A 17th century book believed to be bound in the skin of a priest executed for treason appears to bear a "spooky" image of his face on the cover, according to the auctioneers who are selling the book.

The account of the death of Gunpowder Plot conspirator Father Henry Garnet is described by experts as "rare and macabre".

Sid Wilkinson, from Wilkinson's Auctioneers in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, who will be selling the book on Sunday, said he could see the Jesuit priest's face peering out from the cover.

The book, A True And Perfect Relation Of The Whole Proceedings Against The Late Most Barbarous Traitors, Garnet A Jesuit And His Confederates (London: Robert Barker, 1606) is an 'official' account of the trial and execution of Father Henry Garnet, hanged for treason after the Gunpowder Plot (he claimed to have known of the plot but that he did nothing to support it).

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Charity auction on Sunday

Christmas Without Cruelty Fayre.

This is a very enjoyable event. Ideal for picking up Christmas presents. Only £1 to get in. Loads of events for the kids.

London GP will have a stall. We are in the Lower Foyer. Drop in and have a chat.

Animal Aid Press release:

Animal Aid's Christmas Without Cruelty Fair: Kensington Town Hall, London, Sunday 2 December
Come along and join in all the fun of the Fair. There's a full programme of events and activities, including a short message of support from our patron Tony Benn, who will be at the Fair from 11am. See the website for full details.

Celebrity Auction

The lively Noel Lynch will be wielding his gavel for the celebrity live auction this year, and kicking off the proceedings at 2.30pm in the downstairs foyer. Items up for auction include Tony Benn's pipe, an Arsenal pennant signed by the 1st team, a signed Melanie C T-shirt and photo, a camisole from Kate Winslet and a photo and werewolf action figure from Doctor Who, both signed by David Tennant.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Pancho Villa guns sold at auction

Three guns linked to Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa sold recently at auction for a combined $28,400, far less than predicted by organizers of the sale at the Fredericksburg Events Center

The high bid on a 1875 Remington pistol engraved with Villa's given name was $18,000, while a rifle Villa reportedly fought with before dropping it in the Rio Grande went for $7,000, and a pistol owned by Villa's bodyguard was sold for $3,400.

Friday, 23 November 2007

$40,000 paid for Butterfly Naming Rights

A butterfly species discovered in a Florida museum has a new name after an anonymous bidder paid $40,800 for naming rights in order to honor a woman who died in 1972.

The butterfly's common name will be the Minerva owl butterfly. It's being named after the late Margery Minerva Blythe Kitzmiller of Malvern, Ohio.

While the bidder's name was not disclosed, the payment was made on behalf of Kitzmiller's grandchildren.

The butterfly's scientific name will be Opsiphanes blythekitzmillerae.

University of Florida researchers George Austin and Andrew Warren discovered the new species while looking through a butterfly collection at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville earlier this year. They found it was misidentified as an example of another species.

The 4-inch butterfly is brown, white and black and lives in Sonora, a Mexican state bordering Arizona. Proceeds from the auction will go toward further research of Mexican butterflies.

Beverly Sensbach, director of development for the museum, said Kitzmiller's grandchildren wanted to honor her through the name of a beautiful butterfly because she was "an extremely creative person who wrote poetry, played piano and sang."

The rights were sold via an online auction. Warren had said before the auction closed that the researchers were hoping to raise at least $50,000, which would fund two years of work in Mexico.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Painting found in trash sells for $1,049,000

A painting found in a pile of trash on a New York street sold at Sotheby's auction house late Tuesday for a million dollars, nearly 20 years after it was stolen from a warehouse in Texas.

"Tres personajes" ("Three People"), a 1970 work by Rufino Tamayo, one of Mexico's best known artists, was bagged for 1.049,000 dollars by a north American buyer who fought off a telephone bidder, the auction house said.

It had been saved from the garbage by Elizabeth Gibson, who spotted the work while out walking one morning in 2003. She found the, measuring 98 by 130 centimeters (38 by 50 inches), in perfect condition.

"It was a Saturday morning. I went out for a coffee at 7:00 am. I saw it on the sidewalk among black plastic garbage bags," she told AFP ahead of the sale.

"I passed my way and had my coffee, but a voice inside kept telling me to go back and take the painting. So I stopped reading my book and I went back and took the painting, which had a very bad frame but was in perfect condition."

The work, with bold strokes of red, purple and yellow, was bought for 55,000 dollars in 1977 by a Texas man for his wife's birthday. The couple put it in storage while they moved house and noticed the painting was missing in 1987 when picking up their belongings at the warehouse.

Where the painting went for the next 16 years remains a mystery, but for several months after discovering it, Gibson kept it on the wall in her apartment.

Tipped off by a friend that the painting could be valuable, Gibson started investigating only to find on the Internet that the work had been featured on US television show "The Antiques Roadshow" in a segment on missing paintings.

Gibson approached Sotheby's, which helped return the painting to its original owner, who remains unidentified.

Federal FBI detectives are still investigating the case.

The painting carried a pre-sale estimate of 750,000 to one million dollars. Gibson has already received a 15,000-dollar reward for helping secure its return and was to receive an undisclosed sum from the sale.

Marysol Nieves of Sotheby's Latin American art department said the piece was a classic example of all the important elements of the artist's work.

Pele shirt sold at auction

A yellow Brazil football shirt worn by Pele during the 1970 World Cup final has been sold for £66,500 at Christie's London auction yesterday.

The shirt was the most expensive sale in an auction of memorabilia belonging to former England captain Bobby Moore and Brazil's Mario Zagallo.

Zagallo was part of the first Brazilian team to win the World Cup in 1958 and was again in the side when they retained the trophy four years later.

He built up a collection of some 1,500 shirts which he exchanged with fellow players during his career.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

1920s biscuits for auction

Bonhams auctions are to auction a box of biscuit’s from the 1920s. The box is in the shape of a toy car with the original contents intact. This is quite rare and is exciting toy enthusiasts around the world.

Estimate $4-6,000, although it wouldn’t surprise me if it made much more.

Unfortunately the biscuits are past their sell-by date and have turned a slight purple.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Eiffel Tower Stairs Sold at Auction

The 14ft. section of staircase was sold for $219,390 – Ten times the asking price.

It was purchased by Erik Kurvers to promote his team Eiffel Towers, a member of the Union of European Basketball Leagues based in Den Bosch, Netherlands.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Eiffel Tower staircase for auction.

A rare chance to own part of France's best-loved monument comes up today, when a piece of the original staircase of the Eiffel Tower will be put under auction.

The 20-step spiral section was part of the flight leading from the second to the third levels of the tower. It was scaled by Gustav Eiffel himself at the inauguration in 1889, when the lift was not yet in service.

One of 24 sections of the staircase removed in 1983 during renovation work, it has been in private hands ever since.

The sale at the Drouot auction house on Monday afternoon is expected to make up to €30 000. Buyers are warned that the ironwork is 4,5m high and weighs 700kg

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Risking the Lot - Subprime Stupidity and Art Auction Arrogance

Interesting post from an Australian art market analyst and blogger:

Risking the Lot - Subprime Stupidity and Art Auction Arrogance

The US subprime housing crisis is one of those things that makes you wonder what the people involved were thinking. The lenders had to have known the risks involved in lending money to people to buy a house who couldn’t get finance through the more main stream, traditional lenders yet these lenders let these people borrow money anyway driven by what could only be described as blatant greed. Lending money to people who have the highest probability of not being able to pay the money back is risky enough but when you add the possibility of property values dropping below the value of the mortgages which would result in the lender not being able to recoup the money that they lent, the risk goes through the roof.

It would seem that the art auction houses are taking the same risks as the mortgage lenders by giving minimum price guarantees to their clients which means that they are gambling on their ability to achieve the sale prices they have promised their vendors. As an indicator of how much risk some of the art auction houses are taking, Sotheby’s have given minimum price guarantees for a massive 78% of the value of one of their contemporary art auctions to be held in March which equates to approximately US$200 million.

Regardless of whether or not the artworks reach the minimum guaranteed price that the auction houses have given, the auction houses have to pay the vendor the promised amount of money. The reason that the auction houses give guarantees is to entice the sellers with the most valuable artworks to sell through their auction house. By having the most valuable artworks to sell, auction houses get more publicity, more bidders and potentially greater profits but by giving minimum price guarantees they are also risking their reputation and business. Just like the subprime mortgage lenders it would seem that greed is motivating the art auction houses and just like the subprime mortgage lenders the auction houses are creating a time bomb which could explode at any time.

Not only are the auction houses risking their own businesses but they are also creating false expectations of the art market and presenting a manipulated view of the art market by promising minimum sale prices just to secure the sale of particular artworks which may not reflect the true market value of the artwork. If there were to be a situation where the auction houses were not able to sell the artworks for the prices that they had guaranteed the sellers then there would not only be significant repercussions for the auction house but it would also be likely to cause a general panic in the art market which would effect many people. As far as I am concerned the auction houses are taking far too many risks and not considering the consequences for themselves and others but greed can unfortunately cause people to make significant errors of judgment.

Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

FDR clock expected to make $1m

A Pierre Cartier clock that belonged to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is scheduled to go up for auction on December 4th at Sotheby's in Manhattan.

Cartier gave the onyx clock with several different time zones (specific to key Allied forces locations in World War II) to the President back in 1943. Letters between Cartier and President Roosevelt regarding the gift are not part of the sale but can be viewed in the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York.

The clock comes with a red leather presentation box inscribed with "F.D.R" and is expected to sell for as much as $1 million dollars.

Monday, 29 October 2007

WE57 HAM license plate fetches record price

Fans of east London club West Ham set a new record price of £57,000 for a football-related vehicle license plate as they outbid each other for plate number WE57 HAM

The price dwarfed the previous record of £36,000 set in 2004 for plate number AR53 NAL (Arsenal). The winner bid anonymously over the Internet.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

'Che' Guevara articles sell for $100,000

A lock of dark brown hair, fingerprints and other artifacts from the capture and execution of Ernesto "Che" Guevara will soon be the property of a Houston-area bookstore owner.

. Items were sold by a man hired by the CIA to capture Che. Left: A 1958 photograph shows Che in Cuba. Other items sold included fingerprints and photographs of Che dead and alive.

Bill Butler of Rosenberg, Texas, bid $100,000 Thursday night to claim the items at a Dallas auction.

Held by Heritage Auction Galleries, the event drew television cameras and extra security but only Mr. Butler's bid, the seller's minimum price.

The items, including a map, letter and photographs of Che dead and alive, belonged to Miami resident Gustavo Villoldo, hired by the CIA to capture the guerrilla leader as he tried to foment rebellion in Bolivia.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Diamond Shirt To Be Sold In Dubai

The $1.4 million diamond-studded top which was shown on the runway during Milan Fashion Week last February will go on the auction block in Dubai in December. The top was created with the late fashion designer Gianfranco Ferré and Diamond Company and DTC sightholder Dalumi.

The top has more than 900 diamonds stitched along a sheer black vest. The over 300 carats of diamonds are of G color and VS or higher clarity and are set in white gold studs. One dedicated employee hand stitched each diamond on the shirt.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Picasso's Communist Party Membership Card for auction

It is not every day that 100 unknown Picassos go on sale. Just off the Champs Elysées in Paris today, there will be an auction of drawings, doodles and scribbles.

There are florid notes, scratched in Pablo Picasso's handwriting on scraps of paper with hurried messages like "I'm in the restaurant" – with an estimated price of €1,500 (£1,045).

There are five, signed copies of Picasso's Communist Party membership card from the mid 1960s – with estimated auction prices of €500. I predict that these will make MUCH more!

There are also previously unseen sketches and cut-outs by the Spanish artist, some beautifully child-like, others in his familiar Cubist style. All were collected over a period of 33 years by a relatively unknown but very important woman in Picasso's life. The woman, Inès Sassier, was never Picasso's lover or mistress or wife. She was, variously, for more than three decades, his friend, adviser, house-keeper, cook, nanny, model and confidante.

The collection has been put up for sale today at Artcurial, in the Rond Point des Champs Elysées,

The 150 drawings, photographs, mementoes, and a handful of signed lithographs, are expected to fetch up to €444,000 and possibly far more.

Mme Sassier kept many items that others might have thrown away. The auction includes elaborate notes bearing messages like "Je serais ici à 7 heures" (I'll be back at 7). There is also an envelope addressed to Inès at the Rue des Grands Augustin in 1957 containing Picasso's signature.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

EBay Typo Costs Man $500,000

Shopping on eBay is supposed to be about finding bargains, and this summer a guy from Oklahoma ended up finding quite the deal.

He was the winning bidder of a bottle of Allsopp's Arctic Ale in which the seller made a typo in his auction and spelled it "Allsops."

The auction ended with very little interest and only 2 bids for the bottle that was obviously worth so much more than the winning bid of $304.

And to make the mistake even more painful, that winning bidder turned around and listed the bottle again on eBay, but this time with the name spelled correctly, and got a whopping 157 bidders and a sale price of $503,300.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Orson Wells’ Citizen Kane Oscar for auction.

It won only one Oscar, but Orson Welles' 1941 film "Citizen Kane" is widely considered his best movie. Now the Academy Award Welles received for his masterwork can be bought for a cool million -- or maybe more.

Sotheby's said it will auction off the statuette Welles won for screenwriting with Herman Mankiewicz on December 11. They estimate it could fetch between $800,000 and $1.2 million.

The movie, about a power-hungry newspaper baron with political aspirations, is one of the most critically acclaimed films of all time, which enhances the statuette's value, said Leila Dunbar, senior vice president at Sotheby's.

"The movie had a star-studded cast. Welles was fearless in the filmmaking and he had complete autonomy, all of which helped him create a landmark movie," Dunbar said.
The Oscar has almost as tangled a past as the film's protagonist, Charles Foster Kane. The award was believed to have been lost until it surfaced at another Sotheby's auction in 1994 after being held in secrecy by a Los Angeles cinematographer who once worked with Welles and received it from him as payment.

Welles' youngest daughter, Beatrice, sued Sotheby's and the cinematographer and eventually claimed the Oscar. When she tried to sell it, the academy sued her as part of its longstanding goal of keeping Oscars off commercial markets.

Since 1950, the academy has required Oscar-winners to give it the first right of refusal to buy back an Oscar for $1. Because this particular Oscar had been given before 1950, among other reasons, Welles was able to prevail in court.

In 2003, Welles sold the Oscar to the Dax Foundation, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit group that supports various educational, health and other causes. Dax is auctioning the Oscar.

Dunbar said Welles' Oscar is hard to value because so few from classic or iconic movies come on the market.

In 1999, the best picture Oscar for "Gone With the Wind" sold for more than $1.5 million and Vivien Leigh's best actress statuette for the same movie fetched more than $550,000.

Hitler's Globe Up for Sale

Days after the end of World War II, an American soldier entering the wreckage of Adolf Hitler's mountain stronghold found that fierce Allied bombing had left the "Eagle's Nest" in ruins.

Hitler was dead, and other soldiers had already looted the inside of his private residence, even stripping the leather from furniture. Nearly everything of value was gone — except for the Fuhrer's globe.

"Literally, the place is all bombed out and here this globe is sitting there on the desk," said John Barsamian, now 91.

Now Barsamian is putting the artifact up for auction, along with all the military paperwork that allowed him to bring it back to the United States, including a certificate that reads "1 Global Map, German, Hitler's Eagle Nest."

Barsamian found the globe in May 1945 in the Berghof, Hitler's home in the Bavarian Alps town of Berchtesgaden. He boxed it up with a few other keepsakes, including a pistol and a dagger, and shipped them home.

After beating cancer and burying his wife, Viola, in 2004, Barsamian is finally ready to part with the globe. He's selling it now, while he's still alive, so he can personally tell the story behind it and share his experience in the war, says his son, Barry.

The globe to expected to attract bids from $15,000 to $20,000 when it is auctioned Nov. 13 in San Francisco.

Other items up for auction include rare documents signed by Hitler, and a box of cigars that belonged to Hermann Goering

The auction will take place at the Greg Martin auction house in San Francisco, November 13th, 2007.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

AUCTION to-morrow

South Eastern Auctions of East Peckham,Kent have their auction tomorrow.

It’s my favourite auction to conduct.

This month there are over 800 lots starting with a post hole digger and ending with a Victorian travelling trunk.

In between there will be a vast array including:

Motor Cycles.
Vintage fishing gear.
Stamp collections.
Two Roman Coins.
Masonic items.
Collection of Pendelpin pottery.
A Bernard Leech pot and other ceramics.
Musical Instruments.
Georgian and later furniture.
Paintings, Watercolours and engravings.
Large number of jewellery lots.
J. Hoover signed Christmas card.
Fossils etc. etc.

The full catalogue can be downloaded from:

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Straw bale auction rooms nearing completion

As an auctioneer and a Green Party activist, I am delighted to post this report from Green Building Magazine.

Straw bale auction rooms nearing completion.

The main structure of the largest straw bale building in the UK is nearing completion near Stansted airport. Pioneers of straw bale building in the UK, amazonails of Todmorden, West Yorkshire, are now completing the straw bale walls of the 1,100 sq m (11,800 sq ft) auction room and offices.

The design, with straw bales infilling a timber frame, is an advance on conventional timber-frame buildings and is quicker to build. Workers from amazonails will have spent three weeks camping at the site building the straw bale walls when the main structure is completed this coming weekend, the cedar shingle roof being supported above the building on timber uprights while the walls were filled in.

The construction process has also been used for training future straw bale constructors, this following an amazonails tradition in which people wanting to build their own straw bale home learn while they build, under instruction from experts from amazonails.

The building will provide new auction rooms and offices for Sworders Fine Art and Antique Auctioneers, of Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex. The building as a whole was designed by Robert Ward-Booth FRICS, a partner in G E Sworder & Sons. It incorporates solar heating, a bio-fuel boiler and water is harvested from the roof.

Barbara Jones, Executive Director of amazonails says: “This building demonstrates the amazing potential of straw bale buildings. They not only offer the possibility of exciting, eco-friendly homes; working commercial buildings can also benefit from the advantages of this kind of building while helping to lessen the consequences of climate change. The thermal efficiency of straw bale walls means that long term running costs can be much lower than other types of building and the dependence on fossil fuels can be reduced”.

This new commercial building should help dispel many myths about building with straw when done correctly. There are no problems with obtaining planning permission; such buildings are at least as fire safe as conventional buildings; and they will endure as long as any well-maintained building using bricks and mortar.

Furthermore, the heat insulation properties of straw bale walls are twice as good as the best alternative materials on the market.
The building is due to be structurally complete in October and it will be fitted out and occupied in the first quarter of next year.

Marie Antoinette’s pearls for auction.

A set of pearls once belonging to Marie Antoinette and taken to Britain by a friend for safekeeping will go on sale in December, and are expected to fetch up to $800,000.

Now part of a diamond, ruby and pearl necklace, France's last queen gave a bag of pearls and diamonds to Lady Sutherland, the British ambassador's wife, before she fled revolutionary France in 1792, a year before Marie Antoinette's death.

"Lady Sutherland was wife of the ambassador and friends with the queen, and they had children of the same age," said Raymond Sancroft-Baker, senior director of Christie's jewelry in London.
"When you are in a dire situation, there are not many people you can trust and the key was to give the jewels to someone with diplomatic immunity," he told Reuters.

According to Christie's, Sutherland arranged for clothes and linen to be sent to the queen while she was in prison.
"This was reportedly the last gesture of kindness shown to the doomed queen," the auctioneer said in a statement.

Marie Antoinette was executed by guillotine in October 1793.

The diamonds were made into a necklace, while the pearls were mounted later for the occasion of the marriage of Sutherland's grandson in 1849.

The pearls, have never been offered at auction before and remained in the same family for over 200 years.

The necklace will go under the hammer at the Magnificent Jewellery sale in London on December 12, and is expected to make between £350,000 and £400,000 pounds ($700-800,000).

Magna Carta Is Coming Up For Auction

It is the document that laid the foundation for fundamental principles of English law and it is coming up for auction.

NO, it is not Gordon Brown selling off the family treasures. The country is not that broke – yet:-)

Sotheby’s have announced plans to auction it in New York in mid-December, estimates that the document will sell for $20 million to $30 million.

It is the only copy in the United States and the only copy in private hands. Sotheby’s says the 16 others are owned by the British or Australian governments or by ecclesiastical or educational institutions in England.

Until recently, this copy was on display in the National Archives in Washington, steps from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But it was only on loan from a foundation controlled by the Texas billionaire Ross Perot, who bought it in 1984 for $1.5 million.

The Perot Magna Carta dates to 1297 and was endorsed by King Edward I. The National Archives said that of the 17 original versions that still exist, 4 are from the reign of John; 8 are from Henry III; and 5 are from Edward I.

Some jurists consider the Perot Magna Carta to be the most important one because it was the one that was entered into the statute books in England.

Mr. Perot, the onetime independent candidate for president of the United States, bought it from relatives of James Thomas Brudenell, the Earl of Cardigan, who led the charge of the Light Brigade in 1854, during the Crimean War. The copy was said to have been in the family’s possession since sometime in the Middle Ages.

But later generations were apparently unaware of its importance.
By the time Mr. Perot bought the copy, it had been on the market for four years, and at least one deal had fallen through before Mr. Perot came along. At the time, Mr. Perot said he was “amazed” that it had been for sale.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Flag from 'Easy Rider' makes $89,625 in auction

The American flag taken from the back of the jacket Peter Fonda wore in the film "Easy Rider" has sold for $89,625 at an auction of the actor's memorabilia from the iconic 1969 movie.

The Rolex watch that Fonda wore in the film was also part of the auction over the weekend at Dallas' Heritage Galleries. The prototype watch sold for $33,460.

Rare blue diamond smashes auction record, sells for nearly $8M

A 6.04-carat blue diamond has sold at Sotheby's in Hong Kong for $7.98 million, the highest price ever paid for a rare gemstone at auction, according to Reuters.

"The bidding was fast and furious and you know it's not as if one could go out and buy another one," Quek Chin Yeow, head of Jewellery Asia at Sotheby's, tells BBC News. "It's as rare as getting a Renoir or a wonderful Rothko. When you look at the stone, it sings. The cutting is wonderful."

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

How Top Watchmakers Intervene in Auctions

GENEVA -- In the rarefied world of watch collecting, where Wall Street investment bankers and Asian millionaires buy and sell at auctions, a timepiece can command a higher price than a luxury car.

At an April event here, a 1950s Omega platinum watch sold for $351,000, a price that conferred a new peak of prestige on a brand known for mass-produced timepieces.

Watch magazines and retailers hailed the sale, at an auction in the lush Mandarin Oriental Hotel on the River Rhone. Omega trumpeted it, announcing that a "Swiss bidder" had offered "the highest price ever paid for an Omega watch at auction."

What Omega did not say: The buyer was Omega itself.

See the full story in The Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Toilet seat from Concorde makes £1,800 at auction

A toilet seat from a Concorde has sold at auction for £1,800.

The luxury loo fitting was one of hundreds of items from the defunct supersonic jet to go under the hammer in France. See our posting of July 29th.

A machometer that registered the moment the plane broke the sound barrier fetched £17,000, far above the 2,000 pounds auction estimate.

Concorde made its maiden voyage in 1969, but was retired in 2003 amid ballooning costs and sagging ticket sales after a crash in 2000 that killed 113 people.

The plane's landing gear weighting just over a tonne was also sold for £17,000

The auction in Toulouse, France, home to plane maker Airbus and its predecessor company behind the Concorde, has been organised by a group of former engineers and executives.

More than 300 collectors and bargain hunters bid for 835 items - also including cabin seats, trays, cutlery and even a captain's headset - at the three-day sale, which ended on Monday.

French auctioneer Marc Labarbe conducted the auction in Toulouse, southern France.
Cockpit gauges, including air speed indicators and horizontal situation indicators and a cabin oven were also on offer.

"The pieces aren't just mechanical parts, they also have an aesthetic dimension - all while bearing one of the best trademarks: Concord." Said the auctioneer. But one item not on sale was the jet's trademark needle nose cone. Three of them were auctioned in London and Paris in 2003 and 2004 - the first of which went for more than a half-million dollars.

The latest auction was criticised by ecologists for selling Concorde parts that claimed were still radioactive, including cabin smoke detectors which they said contained Americium 241.

Airbus sold all the parts on sale to the non-profit Aerotheque association in 2003. The proceeds will go toward a planned airplane museum and park in Toulouse.

The plane, operated by Air France and British Airways, was once the ultimate symbol of jet-set glamour, whisking celebrities and high-powered executives across the Atlantic. With a cruising speed of 1,350 miles per hour, westbound travellers on board got to New York more than 90 minutes before they left Europe.


Eleven folders of old papers rescued from his parents’ closet sat in Thomas Willcox’s sport utility vehicle for months before he realized that some were signed by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The three letters written by Lee during the Civil War sold at auction for $61,000.

That was far off the record $630,000 that a Lee item sold for in 2002.

The letters were among more than 400 documents that Willcox put up for auction after a protracted fight with the state, which claimed ownership of the documents that had been in Willcox’s family for years.

The collection details life in South Carolina from 1861 to 1863. Many of the letters are correspondence between generals and the Confederate government and Govs. Francis Wilkinson Pickens and Milledge Luke Bonham.

The letters were supposed to be auctioned in 2004. But South Carolina sued, claiming that they were written as part of official state business and were government property. A federal judge ruled last year that Willcox owned the collection, which was in his family for generations before he found them in his parents’ home after they died.

The legal spat led Willcox to file for bankruptcy.


A 157-year-old whisky was sold for more than £29,000 on Friday, setting what is thought to be a world record auction price for a bottle of Scotch.

The Bowmore single malt, which was bottled in 1850, was sold at McTear's auctioneers in Glasgow for £29,400 to an anonymous telephone bidder, beating the distillery itself.

It is the oldest known bottle of Bowmore in existence.

Bowmore's brand director Glen Moore said they had planned to bring the bottle back to the distillery to take pride of place in its new visitor centre on the island of Islay, off Scotland's west coast.

Twin brothers William and James Mutter operated the distillery from the 1850s until the early 1890s when Bowmore Distillery Company Limited was formed.
The bottle was presented to William Mutter in 1851 at the time of him giving up his share of the distillery and has remained in the family for generations.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Tokyo Fish Auction.

Interesting description of the Tokyo Fish auction in this blog:

Titanic key makes £90,000 in auction

A tiny key that might have helped prevent the Belfast-built Titanic sinking has fetched £90,000 at auction.

The key, with the tag "Crows Nest Telephone Titanic" opened the binoculars store, but was not on the ship when it sailed from Southampton. It was in the pocket of an officer transferred off the vessel days before its maiden voyage. He forgot to hand it to his replacement as he left. As a result lookouts had to rely on the naked eye.

Second officer David Blair held the key during the short journey from Belfast, where Titanic was built, to the south coast.

One of the lookouts on the Titanic told an inquiry into the sinking that with the binoculars the Titanic might have been able to dodge the iceberg. On the difference the binoculars might have made, lookout Fred Fleet said: "Well, enough to get out of the way."

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

'Easy Rider' items up for auction

Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas will auction some of Peter Fonda’s memorabilia from the ‘Easy Rider’ film on October 6th.

Among the items up for grabs are:

• The American flag taken from the back of the jacket Mr. Fonda wore throughout the film, with an estimated value of $50,000.

• A Department of Defence pin that adorned the jacket, valued at $15,000.

• Mr. Fonda's gold record for the film's soundtrack album, valued at $2,000.

• His personal collection of six movie posters, including those for Easy Rider and Ulee's Gold, Mr. Fonda's most honoured performance, with an estimated value of $500.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

The Parrot And The Auctioneer

To celebrate my 100th blog entry, I thought that I would include a joke. There really is not enough laughter in the world.

One day a man went to an auction. While there, he bid on a parrot. He really wanted this bird, so he got caught up in the bidding. He kept on bidding, but kept getting outbid, so he bid higher and higher and higher.

Finally, after he bid way more than he intended, he won the bid - the parrot was his at last!

As he was paying for the parrot, he said to the Auctioneer, "I sure hope this parrot can talk. I would hate to have paid this much for it, only to find out that he can't talk!"

"Don't worry." said the Auctioneer, "He can talk. Who do you think kept bidding against you?"

Auction at Green Party Conference.

The Green Party Annual Conference takes place from to-morrow Sept. 13th until Sunday next at The Cornerstone building of Liverpool Hope University, at Haigh Street, Liverpool L3 8QB.

I am conducting a fundraising auction for our GLA election campaign.
The event takes place on Friday evening at 8pm.
Here are a few of the items for sale:

1) Have your housekeeping done by Darren Johnson, London Assembly Member.

2) Tea for three and a tour of the House of Lords plus seats for a debate. Donated by Lord Beaumont.

3) Tony Benn's pipe - autographed by him.

4) An original ballot paper from the first free elections in South Africa, 1994, features Nelson Mandela etc.

5) Self portrait sketch and autograph by David Baddiel.

6) A genuine ROMAN COIN of the Emperor Constantius 11 (337-361 a.d.)

I am now accepting bids on the above. Please ring me on 07961 44 1722 or reply to this e-mail up to Wednesday night.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Maria Callas Memorabilia for Auction.

A collection of Maria Callas memorabilia from her husband's estate, including letters, photographs and musical scores, will be auctioned later this year.

The collection includes 63 love letters from Callas to industrialist Giovanni Battista Meneghini, who was married to the soprano during her rise to operatic fame, Sotheby's Milan said Monday.
Meneghini married Callas in 1949. She left him for Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis a decade later.

Letters from friends including Leonard Bernstein and Franco Zeffirelli; 300 musical scores, many including handwritten notes by Callas; concert gowns; and photos of Callas onstage and in the company of dignitaries such as President Kennedy will also be sold.

The auction will be held Dec. 12. The collection will be on public display in Milan on Dec. 7, Dec. 10 and Dec. 11, the auction house said.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Synagogue seats for auction

Two lifetime front-row seats to services at a Miami Beach synagogue are being auctioned off on eBay with bids starting at $1.8 million.

The winning family’s name will be engraved on Seats 1 and 2 of Row 1, Section DD, at Temple Emanu-El, The Associated Press reported. The winner also will receive free parking, two custom-made tallitot and yarmulkes, as well a tax write-off. The seats can be passed down to family members.

"It's a gift that goes from one generation to another," said Rabbi Kliel Rose, who came up with the concept with the help of two congregants who work in advertising and marketing.

The auction ends today, three days before the High Holy Days, but as of Saturday evening no one had bid.

Temple Emanu-El, a 1,400-seat Conservative congregation, was founded in the 1940s on South Beach.

Thursday, 6 September 2007



The West Ham United and Sporting Collection of Memorabilia accumulated by a retired senior West Ham United Official over a twenty year employment period with the Upton Park Club is to come up for auction on

Sunday 9th September at

South Eastern Auctions Ltd, 104 Branbridges Road, East Peckham, Tonbridge, Kent, TN12 5HH.

The collection includes a rare signed and dedicated monochrome picture of BOBBY MOORE HOLDING THE 1966 WORLD CUP ON THE WEMBLEY PITCH together with the official 28th June 1993 Westminster Abbey "service of thanksgiving for the life of Bobby Moore", a rare signed champagne bottle autographed and dedicated by completely teetotal Trevor Booking, a miniature bottle of whiskey signed by the West Ham football team, a 1980 West Ham v Arsenal official F A Cup Final program, West Ham United presentation crystal goblets, bound match programs, black and white pictures of West Ham Football teams from the 1890's to the 1940's, signed autographs of George Best, Denis Law, Gordon Banks, Ron Harris, Emlyn Hughes, Henry Cooper, official 1966 World Cup stamps, 1980 silk West Ham v Arsenal Cup Final pennant etc.

Viewing is on Saturday 8th September 10.00am - 5.00pm. Auction takes place Sunday 9th September at 11.00am with viewing from 9.00am.

See the full catalogue at

I will be doing the auction, so I hope to meet some of my readers there.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

New Super Villain – The Auctioneer.

Action Comics has introduced a new villain to the DC Universe–The Auctioneer.

This is an alien that steals stuff, like Churches, National Monuments, and Superheroes. He then sells them to the highest bidder. He makes his first appearance in no. 842. In Action Comics 843, you find out that he also sells the TV rights to his battle with Superman.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Lock of Che Guevara's Hair for auction

A former CIA operative and Cuban exile plans to auction what he says is a lock of Che Guevara's hair, snipped before the Argentinean revolutionary and friend of Fidel Castro was buried in 1967.

Gustavo Villoldo, 71, was involved in Guevara's capture in the jungles of Bolivia. He plans to auction the hair and other items kept in a scrapbook since the joint CIA-Bolivian army mission 40 years ago.

The scrapbook also holds a map used to track down Guevara in Bolivia, photos of Guevara's body, intercepted messages between Guevara and his rebels and a set of Guevara's fingerprints taken before his burial.

“It's hard to predict how much the collection will net at auction because there is nothing comparable on the market” said Tom Slater, of Heritage Auctions of Dallas, where the items will be sold on Oct. 25/26.

I’m told that weight for weight, celebrity hair is the world’s costliest commodity.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Attempt to stop auction of Oscars.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is suing the heirs of late Hollywood legends Mary Pickford and Charles "Buddy" Rogers over alleged plans to sell the late couple's Oscar statuettes.

Pickford won an Oscar for best actress for her role in the 1929 film "Coquette" and was awarded an Oscar for lifetime achievement in 1976. Rogers, who married Pickford in 1937, was honoured by the academy in 1986 with his own statuette as recipient of a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

The Academy claims that they have the right of refusal to buy these Oscars. They have filed a complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The academy has the right of first refusal to buy the three Oscars, according to a complaint filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.. It is seeking an order to buy the Oscars back from the heirs for $10 each.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Social Networking patent for auction

Ocean Tomo Auctions will offer the “Jaipuria Patent” for sale, U.S. Patent 7,047,202 which was filed back in 2001 and is considered one of the most important patents related to social networking. It will be offered as Lot 54 at the Ocean Tomo Fall 2007 Live IP Auction on October 25th at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.

The patent claims priority to an earlier Indian patent and describes many of the fundamental workings of social networks, including creating an online social network including individual users and groups, accessing and using social network via the Internet or wireless devices, and advanced user privacy features.
In other words, this patent describes much of how all social networks are created, and thus gives the owner a significant advantage over the competition.

If the hype surrounding this one is true, MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook and others may all be using processes covered by it.

For more information on the Jaipuria Patent or to register to bid at the Ocean Tomo Fall 2007 Live IP Auction, you can visit or

Friday, 31 August 2007

Titanic key for auction

A tiny key which could have saved the Titanic will go for auction in Devises, Wiltshire, on September 22. It has been described as "one of the most important artefacts from the ship to have come to light".

The key to the ship's crow's nest binocular store survived the 1912 sinking of the vessel which killed 1,522 people because it was not on board.

Instead, it was with David Blair, the Titanic’s original second officer who was transferred off the ship shortly before she set sail on her fateful maiden voyage.

Blair realised too late that he had the key and kept it as a memento.

One of the ship's lookouts, Fred Fleet, said binoculars would have allowed the crew to spot the iceberg which sunk the ship and given them time to "get out of the way" despite it being dark.

The key and a postcard Blair wrote to his sister shortly before the Titanic set sail are expected to fetch £70,000.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

$8,000 for Walrus Penis at auction

A 4.5 foot fossilized walrus penis sold this week at the I.M. Chait auctionrooms in Beverly Hills.

The 12,000 year old penis is thought to be the largest specimen ever to come on the market.

It was purchased by the museum chain ‘Ripley’s believe It of Not’

A spokesman commented:
” When it comes to fossils, size matters"

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Bidder scoops a Hirst painting for £200 at anonymous auction

From to-day’s Independent.
When a buyer from the back of a crowded auction room put a bid in for lot 15, no one matched his modest offer of £200 for a painting filled with concentric circles.
The bidders, which included some of Ireland's foremost art dealers and media personalities, were at an anonymous auction at which a Damien Hirst painting was being sold alongside 41 others, but no one knew which one until after it was bought.
So the gasps of astonishment from the audience were understandable when lot 15 was revealed to an original work by Hirst, Britain's most bankable artist, which was created to feature in his famous "spin" series.
Some of the paintings which bidders had wrongly guessed to be a Hirst had sold for up to £5,000. Among them was a sculpture entitled Two Rats in a Drainpipe, made by three A-Level students from Hammersmith, west London.
The artist had donated the work, also titled Spin, to the auction at Flatlake Arts and Literary Festival, at Hilton Park, in County Monaghan. The festival organiser, Kevin Allen, who is a film director and brother of actor Keith, said the atmosphere was "electric".
"I had devised the idea and I had framed Damien's work myself on an oblong mount to put people off the scent. The works of art, which were anonymous and numbered, were brought out for a three-minute quick view, like a horse is at a ring.
"Five of Ireland's most prominent art dealers were standing at the front. When the bidding started, it was the best theatre I had ever seen," he said.
The work was bought by the film producer Allan Maloney, who already owns two Hirst Spin paintings, according to Allen, and so recognised the work straight away. But many were confused by other works in the auction that had been done deliberately in Hirst's style.
"Some kids who had donated works did spot paintings which Damien is known for and some did other spin paintings," Allen said.
Mr Maloney agreed to have his bargain-buy auctioned again. It was bought for £95,000 by Kevin Spillane, an Irish gallery owner.
Allen said Hirst had donated the painting in hope that it would go to a worthwhile owner. "He said if I give you this thing, I don't want it to be sold frivolously. I want someone to buy it because they like the painting," he added.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Diana dress fails to sell in Internet auction.

A pale-blue dress worn by Princess Diana to the 1987 Cannes Film Festival failed to attract bids in an Internet auction for charity last week.

The silk chiffon evening gown was among 79 dresses that Diana auctioned off for charity at Christie's in New York in June 1997, two months before she died in a car crash in Paris.

The dress, a strapless bodice made of draped and tucked silk designed by Catherine Walker, is one of four of Diana's dresses owned by the WE television network and was put up for grabs on eBay.

However the gown, which was also worn by Diana to the 1989 London opening of "Miss Saigon", did not attract any bids after opening offers were invited at $125,000.

The WE TV network bought the dress in the 1997 auction for around $71,000. . Though the gown was later appraised and valued at $275,000, experts have recently questioned its true worth.

"If we were to put the dresses up for auction, our auction estimate would be 20,000 to 40,000 dollars for each of the dresses," said a representative from Christie's auction house.

"The estimates are lower, in many cases, than the prices realized in 1997 because the original prices the dresses were bought at were very high."

Monday, 27 August 2007

Robbie Burns hip flasks makes 10 times estimate.

An 18th Century hip flask which once belonged to Robert Burns has sold for about 10-times its estimated price at Bonham’s auction in Edinburgh.

It had been forecast to fetch between £600 and £800 but instead it fell under the hammer for £7,200.

The flask is believed to have been left by Burns at Hunthill House, near Jedburgh, in the Borders in the 1770s.

Bonhams said the price “surprised everyone”.

Well, I’m not sure which planet Bonhams live on, but it was no surprise to me. The £600/£800 estimate was ludicrous. See posting of 16/8/7 where I predicted that it would make much more.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Giant Penis for auction

Up for auction next week at a Beverly Hills gallery is a rare piece of pornographic prehistory - a 12,000-year-old walrus penis.

The fossilized phallus, discovered in frozen Siberia tundra, is 4½ feet long, making it "the largest known mammal penis fossil," according to the I.M. Chait Gallery.


Two excessively rare examples of the notorious ‘Pink Triangle’ which the Nazis forced gay men to wear during World War Two, go under the hammer later this month.

‘They are the ultimate symbols of Nazis homophobic paranoia, with men who had been denounced as homosexuals before WWII having to wear these degrading symbols on their outer clothing at all times,’ commented Richard Westwood-Brookes, Historical Documents Expert for auctioneers Mullock’s who will sell the triangles at their next sale at Ludlow, Shropshire on August 23rd.

‘When the holocaust began, homosexuals were treated with the same venom as the Jews – herded into the concentration camps where the Pink Triangle was attached to their concentration camp uniform.

‘While the total number of homosexuals treated in this way remains unknown, an educated estimate has been made of between 50,000 - 63,000 between 1933 and 1944. On liberation in 1945, the wearers of the Pink Triangles, unlike the Jews, were simply re-imprisoned by the newly created Federal Republic. Homosexuality was still a criminal offence in that country and had been since the introduction under Kaiser Wilhelm II of the notorious Paragraph 175 – which was not finally repealed until 1994.

‘The Pink Triangle today is regarded in the Gay community as the symbol of Gay Pride , second only to the Rainbow Flag. It also emerges in popular culture with the gay areas of Newcastle on Tyne and Edinburgh being known today as the ‘Pink Triangles’ on account of their shape. Ironically the symbol has also been used in an episode of The Simpsons during the depiction of a Gay Pride parade.

‘The Pink Triangle from the holocaust remains one of the rarest of all symbols of the Nazis’ evil oppression, and as such should be preserved for all time as a reminder of the depths to which man’s inhumanity can stoop.

‘We will be selling two versions, the first being a straightforward triangle of khaki fabric which has been died pink and probably dating from before the war and ordered to be attached to civilian clothing.

‘The second is in the form of an arm band and clearly was worn in the concentration camps because it bears the prisoner’s number.’

The triangles are estimated at between £500 and £600 each.

Further information from Richard Westwood-Brookes on 01568 770803.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Auction: Nov. 6th 1660.

The Dairy of Samuel Pepys:

Tuesday 6 November 1660

In the morning with Sir W. Batten and Pen by water to Westminster, where at my Lord’s I met with Mr. Creed. With him to see my Lord’s picture (now almost done), and thence to Westminster Hall, where we found the Parliament met to-day, and thence meeting with Mr. Chetwind, I took them to the Sun, and did give them a barrel of oysters, and had good discourse; among other things Mr. Chetwind told me how he did fear that this late business of the Duke of York’s would prove fatal to my Lord Chancellor. From thence Mr. Creed and I to Wilkinson’s, and dined together, and in great haste thence to our office, where we met all, for the sale of two ships by an inch of candle (the first time that ever I saw any of this kind), where I observed how they do invite one another, and at last how they all do cry, and we have much to do to tell who did cry last. The ships were the Indian, sold for 1,300l., and the Half-moon, sold for 830l.. Home, and fell a-reading of the tryalls of the late men that were hanged for the King’s death, and found good satisfaction in reading thereof. At night to bed, and my wife and I did fall out about the dog’s being put down into the cellar, which I had a mind to have done because of his fouling the house, and I would have my will, and so we went to bed and lay all night in a quarrel. This night I was troubled all night with a dream that my wife was dead, which made me that I slept ill all night.

He also visited an auction on September 3rd, 1662. I will post the details on another occasion.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

United States to auction off uranium

The US department of Energy is planning to auction 200 tons of uranium hexafluoride, a type of processed yellowcake in the coming week.

Experts are surprised that they would rather have the cash than the product given the supply shortages and the ever-growing demand.

A price of $100 per lb is expected.


A bottle of champagne thought to have been taken from Hitler's wine cellar was sold at auction yesterday. See also our posting of August 8th.

The bottle of 1937 Moet et Chandon was bought by an anonymous Swedish bidder for £1,688 at Charterhouse auctioneers in Sherbourne.

It is believed to have been in Hitler's personal stock and ‘acquired’ by a British soldier from Hitler’s bunker. Hitler himself was a teetotaller.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Robert Burns hip flask for auction.

An 18th century hip flask which once belonged to Robert Burns is to go up for auction in Edinburgh.

The flask was recently bought from the Rutherford family when they sold Hunthill House, near Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders.
Burns spent time touring the area in the 1770s and during his visit, he often stayed in the house.

Bonhams expect the flask to make between £600 and £800 at their annual Scottish sale later this month.
I predict that it will make quite a bit more!

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Energizer bunny for auction at Christies.

Christie’s November 15th sale in Los Angeles:
The most valuable listed lot is one of the two original Energizer bunnies.

The rabbits were used to advertise batteries on television and have become one of the most potent advertising symbols of the 20th century.

The rabbit is expected to fetch up to $60,000.

Monday, 13 August 2007

American icon? Oil smudge makes $1,525 on Ebay.

An American family just sold the stain on the floor of their garage for more than $1500. This may or may not be a sign from God.
According to the The Associated Press, the stain looks like Jesus Christ. To many, it looks like a stain.

After noticing some driveway sealant on the floor of their home garage, the Forest, Virginia family snapped a photo and chucked it onto the world's most popular auction site. A week later, another Virginia resident paid $1,525.69 for the sealant smudge - and the hunk of concrete beneath it.

The seller thinks it's a smudge, not a miracle. "There are some people who need this kind of thing to sort of start them on their faith journey. I don't," said the practicing Lutheran. "That's why I don't mind parting with it."

Sunday, 12 August 2007

And now for something different…

Millions of people use Ebay, the world’s largest on-line auction. Anyone who misspells the destination and ends up with Ebare would need to be of the broadminded disposition. Ebare is apparently the leading adult on-line auction. If you venture in there, it’s best not to do it before or after your dinner:-)

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Spock's ears for auction

Star Trek fans across the globe will be able to bid to buy the original mould of Vulcan ears, as used by Spock in the TV series from the 1960s.

Christie's auction house in Los Angeles is selling four pairs of rubber ears and the original mould in a sale of Hollywood memorabilia on 15 November.

The ears are expected to fetch up to $2,000 (£1,400) for two pairs but the mould is listed at up to $20,000 (£14,000)

The most valuable Star Trek lot is a plaster life mask of William Shatner as Captain Kirk. The mask, described as "Captain Kirk, frozen in time, and exactly in his prime" in the auction catalogue, is listed at an estimated sale price of $6,000 (£4,000).

Friday, 10 August 2007

World’s oldest surviving Rolls Royce for auction.

Bids expected in excess of £1-million!
Bonhams has announced the sale on 3 December 2007 of the world’s oldest known surviving Rolls Royce, built in 1904 - the year Rolls Royce was founded.

Rolls-Royce Car no. 20154, a diminutive 10hp two seater, is a true motoring icon. Bidding in excess of £1-million is expected when it goes under the hammer at Bonhams’ annual Olympia Motoring Sale in London.

Stewart Skilbeck, Bonhams’ Motoring Specialist says: “This is the first time this car has ever been offered on the open market since 1904 and we expect strong interest from major collectors worldwide.”

Car no. 20154 was first exhibited at The Paris Salon in the late autumn of 1904. Rolls-Royce records confirm delivery from the Manchester Works in November that year. The car was displayed at the Olympia Show in London in February 1905. The car is the only Rolls Royce qualifying on the basis of its pre-1905 date eligible to take part in the prestigious London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Hitler's champagne up for auction

A bottle of champagne believed to have been taken from Hitler's wine cellar by an allied soldier is being auctioned.

The prized bottle of 1937 Moet and Chandon goes under the hammer at Charterhouse auctioneers in Sherborne, Dorset on 17 August. But the auctioneers say champagne does not age well and the tipple is unlikely to be drinkable.

A soldier as a thank you gift for some legal work gave the bottle to solicitor Nigel Wilson 15 years ago.

It is expected to fetch hundreds of pounds.

Charterhouse valuer, Chris Copson said, they believed the bottle was retrieved by a soldier it from the ruins of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin after the Nazis were defeated in May 1945.

East Peckham Auction.

I conducted my favourite auction on Sunday.

South Eastern Auctions are only in existence for less than a year, but it is coming on in leaps and bounds. It is a friendly and well run event with a huge variety of lots. This time there were 930 lots which I completed without a break.

In no particular order here is a random selection of the results:

Set brand new golf clubs £8. Masonic wristwatch £25. Swiss pocket watch £360. Heavy gold pendant & chain £180. Diamond ring £25. Talking wristwatch £22. Chanel sunglasses £100. Harrods teddy bear £10. Stromatolite fossil £12. ‘History of Kent County Cricket’ £50. Joseph Vautin violin £500. Baritone Horn £25. Mandola mandolin £110. Viola £45. Alto Sax £45. Old gramophone £20. Victorian pine corner cabinet £18. Kurdish runner £35. Georgian Pembroke table £60. Japanese hardwood stage cabinet £370. French walnut salon jardinière £400. Pair Victorian brass candlesticks £5. Four Ostrich eggs £18.

Next auction is on Sunday September 9th. starting at 11am.
You can see their website at

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Ukraine to auction off it’s only submarine.

Further to yesterday's news about Finland selling off their army tanks, I now hear that Ukraine’s Defence Ministry has confirmed plans to sell its only submarine.

In my home I have a poster that says: "It will be a great day when the schools have all the money they need, and the army have to have a jumble sale to buy a new fighter"

The Zaporizhya, which Ukraine inherited after the break-up of the Soviet Union, is one of several Ukrainian warships that analysts and the ministry say are not worth maintaining.

Completed in 1970, the Zaporizhya hasn’t been seaworthy since it was transferred to independent Ukraine in the 90s.

The u-boat will be repaired and thus be ready for sale by the end of this year.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Finland to auction off tanks

Finland’s military is to dispense with a large stockpile of obsolete weapons, vehicles, including armour, and equipment at auction.
The decision means civilians will for the first time have an opportunity to buy decommissioned Finnish Defence Forces tanks.

The auction list includes unarmoured vehicles, weapons, explosives, communications equipment and logistics kit as well as a number of armoured vehicles bought from Germany in the 1990s and several Comet tanks.

All the weapons in the armoured vehicles will be deactivated.

Thursday, 2 August 2007


An Armani suit worn on tour by George Michael is to be auctioned on eBay to raise money for charity.

The profits from the silver outfit, which he has worn on his 25 Live European Tour, will be donated to the Terrence Higgins Trust.

Bidding will continue until August 12th

Million dollar coin for auction

The world’s largest coin – the Canadian $1,000,000 piece – is being offered by Teletrade, the on-line auction company. It weighs in at 220 pounds of pure gold! While it has a face value of C$1m, its bullion value is much higher.

Canada plans to mint at least four more coins in the series, which shows maple leaves on one side and Queen Elizabeth II, on the other.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Final bids

On Thursday last, Concord,NH auctioneer, Richard Withington conducted his 2,458 and final auction. With only a few weeks to live, the 89 year old auctioned off the contents of his own home.

Sporting an eye patch and cane displaying the wit and good humour that have made him legendary in the antique world Withington sold 100 items.

Highest price was a rare wooden nightstand from his bedroom which made $32,000.

"I love these things, and I don't want to sell them," Withington said as he walked through his Hillsboro home this week. "But if I'm going to die in a few weeks, I won't miss them."

The self-made millionaire, who is renowned for his charity and his success, is suffering from brain cancer. Withington said doctors give him just weeks to live, although he claims they said the same thing in January - before he survived radiation treatment and 30 days in intensive care.

Withington's career began at age 12, when he started buying and selling antiques, helping an auctioneer for $2 a day He attributes his success to three things: "I'm honest, I never get mad and I know what the hell I'm doing."

In his prime, Withington could run an auction for 12 hours without a break.He has never stopped auctioneering.

On Thursday, he proved that even terminal illness couldn’t stop him from joking, reminiscing and exhorting buyers to bid higher. "As long as I can stand up, talk and have a mind, I'll keep doing it," he said.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Investment tip: buy straw.

Reports from agricultural auctions indicate that demand for straw is outstripping supply. With the likelihood of a poor harvest because of recent wet weather, the prices are likely to zoom.
You read it here first:-)

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

*Gut twisting engine auctioned at Bonhams.

Bonhams Angling Sale, last Saturday, July 21, at Henley-on-Thames contained a GUT TWISTING ENGINE. It was made for the Great Exhibition of 1851 and made over $5,000.

Sounds horrible, like something out of a torture chamber, but it was actually a silver plated brass tool used to turn horsehair into fishing line.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Dutch Museum auctions surplus art on EBay.

Part of the Dutch national art collection featuring some 1,000 paintings, statues, and other art objects has gone on sale through Internet auction site eBay.

The Institute Collection Netherlands (ICN) which manages part of the Netherland's national art treasures have listed the goods for auction.

Five museums are also taking part in the initiative which has sparked outrage among some of the artists whose work is up for sale.

Between now and October 1,000 works of art, at the rate of 50 a week, will by auctioned on eBay. Details on the works for sale can be found on the Dutch eBay site

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Green minister buys mayor’s car on EBay

From: The Irish Independent

ACTING Green leader Trevor Sargent has put the party's preaching into practice.

He took possession yesterday of his new ministerial eco-car - a Toyota Prius formerly used by former Galway Mayor Niall O Brolchain - at Government Buildings.

Mr Sargent secured the car in an eBay auction set up for charity and handed a cheque worth €7,000 to Cllr O Brolchain, which will go towards 15 Galway charities.

The amount represents the difference between the retail price of €30,000 and the €23,000 cost price at which the car was sold by a Galway garage.

The garage had originally leased the car for O Brolchain's year in office as Lord Mayor. Mr Sargent, who is Minister of State for Food and Horticulture, will use the car for official functions.

"I am glad that the sale of this car is minimising the impact of CO2 emissions on the environment," he said.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

*FAME ACADEMY mansion goes for a £32m song.

London’s second biggest house sold this week for a whopping £32,000,000.

The mansion, once the venue for the BBC1 talent show – The Fame Academy, has 25 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms.

The Grade 11 listed Witanhurst mansion is located in Highgate. Knight Frank were the auctioneers.

The biggest house in London is unlikely to ever come on the market – it’s Buckingham Palace!

*World Livestock Auction Champions

You can hear all the American champions from 1963 to 2006 on the link below -

What surprised me is that while the auctioneers were chanting at a rapid rate, their sales rate was generally less than two per minute. You should hear the tobacco auctioneers – they can do 6 per minute!

Of course, a lot depends on the set-up in the auctionrooms and the customers. Specialist auctions are usually faster than general auctions as the clients will already know their limits.

I have done as high as eight per minute, but at the South East Auction, I prefer to do a steady rate of two per minute for the six hours. In that particular auction, any faster would be too fast for the bidders.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

*Room with a view.

Lighthouse for sale.

The famous Belle Tout lighthouse, situated on top of Beachy Head, is on the market for £850,000.

Estate agents are Strutt and Parker.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

*Pink Panther car for auction

A car made famous by the cartoon series The Pink Panther is going under hammer by Coys Auctioneers in their auction at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire on Saturday next.

The sleek pink car appeared in the titles and credits of the television series featuring the legendary pink cat and Inspector Clouseau.

Estimate is £75,000 to £90,000 but will probably make more.

For more details, see:

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

*Fools and Horses: Auction Scene.

To many fans of ‘Only Fools and Horses’, the final auction house scene was the best ever. Here it is again on You Tube:

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

* Rare Lincoln photo for auction

A previously unknown pre-Civil War ambrotype that is believed to picture Abraham Lincoln, his wife Mary Todd Lincoln and her sister Elizabeth Todd Edwards will be up for auction at Nest Egg Auction Gallery on July 28. It would be the only known photograph taken of Lincoln and his wife together.

Experts say the image shows Lincoln standing and wearing a broad-brimmed stovepipe hat. Mary Todd and her sister are positioned in front. Facial-recognition experts have used a variety of forensic techniques and computerized analysis to verify the identity of the people in the picture.

The most striking similarity to Abraham Lincoln in this ambrotype photograph is the left hand shown draped down. It is a known fact that Abraham Lincoln suffered from Marfans Syndrome. A close examination of this hand indicates that it is of a person suffering from this ailment.

A special page on the Nest Egg Auctions Web site allows users to view known photos of President Lincoln and his wife superimposed over the ambrotype image, showing the resemblance.

Following closely on the heels of daguerreotypes and pre-dating tintypes, the ambrotype process involved creating a negative image on a sheet of glass. The glass was sandwiched into a wood or metal case against a black background that resulted in the image appearing to be a positive when viewed from the front. The process was in widespread use from the early 1850s to the early 1860s.
Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd in 1842.

The auctioneers state that they will not consider bids under $100,000.

*Get out of Jail?

A jail in Anamosa, Iowa has had to change some of its locks after keys to the maximum-security prison were apparently sold on eBay.

The keys belonged to a locksmith who retired from Anamosa State Penitentiary in 1974. He died two years later and when his wife died last year, an auctioneer was hired to sell off the estate, which included the keys.

Someone bought the keys and put them on eBay.

Monday, 9 July 2007


For really black humour have a look at the following short video on You Tube:

Called ‘Everything is for sale. It's just a matter of price’ it shows firefighters auctioning off the only available landing net to people trapped in a burning building.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

*Oldest Car in the World for Auction

The oldest running vehicle in the world, a steam powered car built in France, will be auctioned on August 19th at Pebble Beach, California.
The car runs on coal, wood, and bits of paper. It takes about a half-hour to work up enough steam to drive. Top speed is around 38 miles per hour. It was built in France in 1884, 12 years before Henry Ford manufactured his first car.

The four-wheeled De Dion-Bouton et Trepardoux, nicknamed "La Marquise," was originally built for the French Count De Dion. The car has had only two other owners since.

In an 1887 demonstration drive, the car covered a 19-mile course at an average speed of 26 miles per hour. The following year, it won the world's first car race.

Gooding & Company are handling the sale and the estimate is $1.5m to $2M. I suspect that it will make much more.

Friday, 6 July 2007

*Bronte letter sold at auction

A letter written by Charlotte Bronte bitching about the critics of her second novel, 'Shirley' in 1849, has been sold at Christie's for £21,600.

Ann Dinsdale, the Bronte Parsonage Museum librarian at Haworth, said: "Charlotte wrote the letter shortly after she had lost her brother and sister and she was feeling vulnerable and wanted support and encouragement."

*Custer’s battle flag sells at auction

The personal battle flag of General George Custer was sold recently by Heritage Auctions of Dallas.

Hand-sewn by his wife, the flag flew over Custer’s troops as Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. He carried it through all his later military actions, but left it at home on the day of Little Big Horn.

The winning bid nearly reached $900,000.

*Charlie Chaplin’s Camera for auction.

Movie buffs: If you've got about 200 grand burning a hole in your pocket, head over to Christies on July 25th for your shot to own a piece of cinema history. On that day, Christies will be auctioning off Charlie Chaplin's own camera.

The Bell and Howell 2709 model originally sold for $2,000. This was, in 1918, a state-of-the-art hand-cranked 35mm camera. Chaplin bought the camera shortly after founding Chaplin Studios with his brother. The studio owned three others, but this is the one personally bought by the famous film maker and star.

There is very good chance this camera was used on classics like 'The Kid' (1921), 'The Gold Rush' (1924), 'City Lights' (1931), and the masterpiece 'Modern Times' (1936).

The auction includes the camera, a variety of lenses, a side-mounted view finder, wooden legs, a pan-and-tilt head, and 4 "Mickey Mouse Ear" style film magazines.

*Syd's love poem sold at auction

A love poem and sketch drawn by a young Syd Barrett, dedicated to his girlfriend at the time (1965), sold recently for £4,600.

Auctioned at the Cambridge-based Cheffins Salerooms in their Fine Art Auction, the piece was the subject of some very heavy bidding before the hammer finally fell...

The poem included a rare sketch by Barrett, showing his initials RKB in the corner, and depicting his girlfriend (Viv Brans) dancing at a gig by one of David Gilmour's pre-Pink Floyd bands, Jokers Wild.

Viv said: "This poem was written for me by Syd Barrett in 1965. I was his girlfriend at this time (my nickname was Twig) and this lovely little poem describes how he felt about me with perfect observations about behaviour, clothes and colours... "The drawing on the left of the poem shows me dancing and waving my arms in the air... the band playing in the background is ‘Jokers Wild’. This is the band that Dave Gilmour was playing at that time... at the bottom left of the drawing are Syd’s initials RKB."

Despite an estimate of £1,000-2,000, the poem finally sold for £4,600 to a private collector.

Now a 61-year-old grandmother, Viv said: "Now he's gone, I can let it go because it's just sitting around doing nothing. I've still got the words and sentiments." She said it was a "lovely little poem" that contained "perfect observations" of her behaviour and clothes.

*Napoleon love letter fetches £276,000.

A love letter from Napoleon to Josephine, made £276,000 at Christie’s auction this week.

The early love letter was written after a heated argument.
"I send you three kisses - one on your heart, one on your mouth and one on your eyes," Napoleon wrote.

The letter had been valued at £50,000, but unsurprisingly, ended up fetching five times the pre-sale estimate.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

*Cave home makes £100,000 at auction

The cave home that I reported on earlier this week made £100,000 – four times the auctioneer estimate. I had predicted that that it would go far in excess of the estimate. A £25,000 estimate was ridicules.

Rock Cottage in Wolverley, which is hewn out of a sandstone cliff and has three adjoining caves, five acres of mixed woodland and associated garden land.

The auctioneers were surprised with the ‘unbelievable interest’. I’m not sure why, something like this will always generate a lot of excitement. There were over 50 requests for viewing and one person came from Spain for yesterday’s auction. In the end, it was bought by a neighbour because she wanted it "to stay exactly how it is"

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

*Paris Hilton dog food can is making $300 at auction.

Celebrity mania gone mad! Someone has bid $300 for an empty can of Paris Hilton’s dog food. A used make-up container is making $240 and some used tissues and Q-tips are making $65.

Why can’t I get nutters like that at my auctions? However, I have sold Britt Ekland’s chamber pot, Tony Benn’s pipe, a can of frog spawn and Miss England’s bikini at various charity auctions.

If you want to see the rest of the Paris Hilton sale, go to:

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

*South Eastern Auctions.

Conducted my favourite auction on Sunday at South Eastern Auctions in East Peckham. It was a good, well attended auction with 767 lots.

Here is a random sample of the results: Masonic Watch £40. Prince of Wales Medallion £12. Tonsil Guillotine £12. Seed Distributor £50. Bikers Racing Suite £215. Water Scooter £45. Solitaire Diamond Ring £25. There were quite a few engagement rings in the auction but no wedding rings. Odd that! Kids Roll Top Desk £35 – a great bargain. Half set of brand new Golf Clubs in bag £8. Sold about a dozen of those. One set of bagpipes went for £22 but another set made £230, while a violin made £45 and an accordion made £15. That reminded me that Oscar Wilde’s definition of a gentleman was “someone who can play the accordion – but doesn’t”

It was around this time in the auction that I noticed a wife commandeering the bidding paddle and sitting on it to stop her husband bidding. As always, the auction proceeded and a brisk and good humoured pace.

You can see the SEAL website at
Next auction is August 5th.

*Brontë home fails at auction

The four-bedroom birthplace home of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë in Thornton, Yorkshire went up for auction (see 22/6 report below) but failed to sell. Bidding stopped well short of the £200,000 reserve for the stone-built terrace house in the Yorkshire village of Thornton.

A jinx is believed to have settled over 72 Market Street, which has seen successive failures as a butcher's shop, tourist centre and restaurant.

After the auction, a private offer for £178,000 was accepted.

*Cave residence for auction

Ever wanted to live in a cave? Well, now is your chance. Halls Estate Agents of Kidderminster will tomorrow auction Rock Cottage, which is hewn out of a sandstone cliff near Wolverley, Worcestershire. It was last occupied in the late 1940s.

The cottage has no electricity or water supply but boasts a front door, windows and fireplaces, as well as a pantry, sitting room and a bedroom., but it comes complete with three adjoining caves and also nearly five acres of mixed woodland and garden land.

The guide price of £25,000 sounds like a bargain. I predict that it will double that estimate.

*Diana Dress for auction.

The Sotheby July 10th sale, in association with Kerry Taylor Auctions, has an evening gown worn by Princess Diana. The outfit, a fuchsia pink swathed chiffon sari-style evening gown was worn by the Princess on her official visit to Thailand in 1988.

Estimate £25,000 to £35,000.

The costume was designed by Catherine Walker, founder of the Chelsea Design Company, London, which made most of the princess's evening dresses.

Friday, 29 June 2007

*Auction on Sunday.

I will be conducting the auction at South East Auctions on Sunday. SEAL is my favourite auction. Huge diversity of stuff, nice people, nice customers, loads of bargains, almost everything being sold.

It generally takes about six hours – non-stop.

This month has the usual wide range of goods – Clearance from a sports shop, garden machinery, bikers racing suit, tools, water scooter. Loads of jewellery, silver, porcelain, stamps, coins, model trains, antique and modern furniture, musical instruments, bagpipes, accordion, violin, telescopes and dozens of oils, watercolours, prints and collectors items.

You can download the catalogue at

Thursday, 28 June 2007

*Harry Potter makes $18,000.

A first edition of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" went for $18,000 in Bonham’s auction on Tuesday. The price was a little disappointing. Bonham’s estimate was $10,000 to $20,000, but some considered that estimate to be on the conservative side.

Having said that, it is still an amazing price for a book of such recent vintage. However, there were only about 800 copies produced and many went to school libraries and resultant mutilation.

The final edition of the Potter series comes out on July 21st.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


Message from the Mayor of Galway:

This is an extremely good car. It will also be delivered by the mayoral chauffeur.
All monies above cost will go to charity.
It is probably the most eco-friendly car in the world.
Best Regards,
Niall O Brolchain
Outgoing Mayor of Galway City
Phone 091-596680 Email

Here is the Ebay listing:

This auction is for the Galway Mayoral Car 2006/2007. Having reached the end of his highly successful term as Mayor of Galway City , Cllr Niall O'Brolchain of the Green Party is auctioning his car for charity .....All proceeds will be divided between the 15 Galway charities chosen by The Mayor for The Mayoral Ball 2007. The Mayor's 'Green' car became famous throughout his mayoralty and its auction has been highly publicised both locally and nationally.
Tom Hogan Motors are kindly donating the car at cost .It has been used for one year for attending functions only and was driven by professional drivers throughout.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

*Spitting Image Auction: Thatcher beats Brown.

A Spitting Image puppet of Margaret Thatcher made £5,040 at the recent Bonhams auction of Film and Rock Memorabilia. Gordon Brown only made £4,800.

It had been expected that Brown’s imminent elevation to PM would boost the price beyond Thatcher.

Both results were well above the pre-auction estimates.

The Thatcher puppet was purchased by The Imperial War Museum while the Chancellor was flogged off to a private buyer.

A 1978 Superman suit worn by Christopher Reeve went for £8,400.

*Hammer falls on Yahoo auctions.

On Thursday next, June 28th, Yahoo! will be closing its auction service in the UK & Ireland. Until then, all current auctions will continue to run until their natural close.

They recommend that in the future, their customers try out ‘the great service offered by eBay’, their preferred online auction service.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

*Francis Bacon cast-offs for auction.

Ron Thomas is indeed a farsighted man. During the 18 years he worked as a porter for Marlborough Galleries, he often had to deliver and collect pictures from the painter Francis Bacon. The artist occasionally got him to do odd jobs around the house. They struck up an enduring friendship and Bacon gave him torn canvasses to keep or dispose.

Mr. Thomas had the foresight to keep them all. Now in bad health, he is disposing of his collection at Ewbank Auctioneers in Surrey.

The estimate for the collection is £43,000 but I think that’s very likely to be exceeded.

At Sotheby's Contemporary Art Sale on Thursday a 1978 self-portrait by Francis Bacon sold for £21.5m, nearly double the higher estimate.

*Wilkes Booth manuscript makes $312,000 at auction.

John Wilkes Booth’s manuscript draft of his Secession Crisis speech on the break of the Union and threat of Civil War, made $312,000 in Christie’s, New York recent auction of Books & Manuscripts.
The total sale realised $3,560,220

Among other rarities sold was a first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, which went for $40,000.

Friday, 22 June 2007

*Monet, money.

A Monet Painting bought in 1990 for $3,400,000 made $35,500,000 in Christies Monday night auction. A nice little earner!

Waterloo Bridge, temps couvert, painted in 1904, was bought by an American collector for almost three times the estimate.

*Bronte Birthplace for auction.

It has been described as“the Bethlehem of the Brontës” and it will be auctioned to the highest bidder on Monday next, June 25th.

The Bronte Birthplace at 72 -74 Market St in the village of Thornton, near Bradford in West Yorkshire was the birthplace of Emily, Charlotte, Anne and Branwell Bronte and was the family home for five years.

The acuctioneers are Eddisons and the sale will take place at Leeds United's Elland Road football stadium.

Being sold off a guide price of £200,000, the Grade II listed building, part of which has been used as a butcher's and a restaurant in the years since the Bronte's residency, features four bedrooms, three staircases and a split level dining room with front sitting room, the room in which the Brontes were born.

Most recently owned by novelist, Barbara Whitehead, who restored many of the homes original features and made it available for public viewing, the property is being sold due to her forthcoming retirement.