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 Bront√ęs” 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.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

*Supersonic Auction

Many auctions are described a fabulous, giant, massive etc. However a truly supersonic auction takes place in France from September 28th-Oct 1st. You can now you can own a piece of Concord!

The embodiment of the supersonic era will be sold off piece by piece at the Halle aux Grains in Toulouse.

You can download a catalogue from

The website is in French and English and absentee bidding is accepted.

Estimated prices seem reasonable.

For a good investment I fancied:
Smoke Detector: 100-200 euros.
Dinner plates & cutlery service: 200-300 euros.
Cabin seat: 200-300 euros
and a telephone at the same estimate.

Others might want to be a bit more adventurous and go for a whole engine:-)

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

*A new way to sell houses?

A friend sent me details of a personal ad that appeared in Craiglist (San Francisco)

It was from a lady realtor. To put it mildly, she got ‘hot and bothered’ when making a sale and wanted buyers who would get involved with her.

I know that auctioneering dates back a long way (500BC at least) but this is the first time I have heard of a connection with the ‘world’s oldest profession’

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

*Marilyn Munroe Umbrella for Irish Museum.

One of the star attractions at the recent Julien's Summer Auction in the Beverly Hilton Hotel was an umbrella used by Marilyn Munroe in the famous 1949 photo shoot by Andre de Dienes. It sold for $42,000.

The victorious bidder was William Doyle, who plans to display it at the Museum of Style Icons in County Kildare.

*Elvis Presley’s prescription pill bottle makes $2,640 at auction.

Several Presley items sold at the annual Julien's Summer Auction in the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Auctioneer Darren Julien commented: "We'd planned to sell the bottle with the pills, but the Los Angeles Police Department told us it would be a federal crime to do it, so sad to say we had to remove the pills."
Other Presley items sold included his gold-plated gun which made $28,800 and a mike once used by him which went for $15,000.

Monday, 18 June 2007

*Niche auctions

Most auctioneers have specialities, but the most unusual niche auctions must surely be those conducted by David Norton of Michigan.
They conduct auctions of haunted house installations. In their latest auction was:

“The Crypt”
800 sq. ft. detailed Haunted House complete with Facade, Wall Panels,Skeleton Panels, Scenic Lights, Electric Harness, Sound System, Camo Net Animations, Strobes, Fogger, Miscellaneous items. This is a modular unit that can be set-up anywhere. Can be taken down in just hours and will fit in a 24’ box truck! Unit will be set-up and in full operation for auction. Buyer will be given one week for removal.Take down, delivery, and/or storage of unit is available.

Read an interview with David here:

Thursday, 14 June 2007

*Aladdin's cave of stolen treasures.

On June 1st I wrote that I doubted the tales of crooked millionaire collectors. Well now it seems that I may have been wrong and that one hoard was in a mansion in Mill Hill, only a few miles away from where I live.

A treasure trove of stolen art and antiques, was discovered in the £2m mansion belonging to the London crime boss Terry Adams, in 2003.

When detectives arrested the north London godfather they found what they later described as an Aladdin's cave of treasures gracing his home. Most of the property was found to have been stolen from country houses, art galleries and museums over the last 10-15 years.

Working with the Art Loss Register and officers from the arts and antiques squad at Scotland Yard, detectives managed to trace the owners of £274,000 worth of the stolen art and antiques art.

The Art Loss Register, holds details of 170,000 items of stolen art and antiques on its database.

The Adams brothers ran the most feared crime group in North London.

Adams was ordered last month to pay £4.7m for legal costs over four years.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

*Australian PM up for auction.

Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd have agreed to be listed on eBay in the name of charity, with bids starting at $2,999.

One winning bidder and a friend will join Mr Howard at the PM's XI cricket match at Manuka Oval in November, as well as a reception for both cricket teams at his Canberra residence the night before.

The highest bidder for Mr Rudd, meanwhile, will be invited to bring six friends to dinner with the Labor leader and another "surprise'' frontbencher in Parliament House.

The auction is being run in conjunction with the annual Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery Midwinter Ball, held in Canberra on June 20.

The lions' share of money raised from the auction and the ball, which is expected to top $150,000, will be given to the Burns Foundation Australia.

*Angelina Jolie Jewellery for auction.

The necklace and earrings are a vintage-style suite of rose cut diamonds set in 22K gold.

The pieces will be auctioned by and all proceeds will go to UNHCR programs in Chad for refugees from the Darfur region.

Jolie has served as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The auction starts on June 19th and runs through to July 2nd.

*Diana Car makes $12,000 At Auction

A car once used to chauffeur Princess Diana around raised just a little more than $12,000 recently at auction.

The Jaguar Sovereign, a 1992 model in Westminster blue sold at Manchester's Simon Charles Auctioneers.

The vehicle - made to order for Buckingham Palace - sold for a modest $12,065, well under the price expected by the auctioneers.

The Jaguar was part of the royal fleet for three years, and Diana was even photographed arriving at an engagement in the luxury car.

Monday, 11 June 2007

*Feast and auction.

I conducted the third annual auction at The Brockwell Park Feast yesterday. It was great fun and everyone was in good humour after a three course outdoor dinner.

The lots were quite varied with several ‘dinners for two’, pot of honey produced on the site, apple tree, tour of City Hall etc.
You can see photos, including one of me, on the Friends Of Brockwell Park site:

*Napoleon’s golden sword makes over $6.4 Million at auction.

One of the most desirable of all Napoleon collectables came up for auction yesterday.
The gold encrusted sword was used by the emperor while riding into battle.

French auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat sold it at auction on Sunday in Fontainebleau.

The buyer is unknown but the auctioneer stated that the sword would remain in Napoleon’s family.

*Your own island in the sun.

This one is Leaf Cay in the Bahamas and it is being auctioned on June 28 . It is a fully developed Queen's Grant island that has public power supplied by the Bahamas Electricity Corporation and fresh water through four underground cisterns as well as two wells and a desalinization system. The island has its own aircraft strip and 19 buildings including a main residence, guest quarters, office, generator building and various storage buildings. There is also a boat dock and a tiki hut.

The auction is being conducted by Fisher Auction Co.Inc. Their Vice President told me today that the the minimum
bid has been set at $12,000,000US but they are encouraging all bids.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

*Irish Art Collection discovered in storage in North Carolina.

The collection includes paintings by Jack B Yeats, Gerard Dillon and Louis le Brocquy. It was the property of a native of Dundalk who emigrated in the 1970’s. Most were painted in the 40’s and 50’s.

The paintings will be offered through sealed bids in Dublin and Belfast next week.

With reserve prices up to £225,000 (331,560 euro) for one of the Yeats paintings, the exhibition, titled Coming Home, will go on display at Dublin's Shelbourne Hotel tomorrow. The following day viewing takes place at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. Sealed bids will only be opened once the second day finishes.


I will be conducting the auction. It is a lovely event, with a relaxed outdoor organic feast in a nice park. Please come along.

1.30pm Sunday 10th June 2007
An open air 3 course lunch and auction in front of Brockwell Hall to raise money for events in the Park.

* Slow Food with Local People. Spend a few hours eating outside in
Brockwell Park with old and new friends.
* Just about all the Feast food is grown organically in Brockwell Park or local allotments.
* Selection of home made fresh ginger and lemonade, farmhouse
apple juices, ciders and perry or BYO.
* Food, poetry, auction of goods and promises, kids activities
* Tickets for the 3 course meal priced according to income.

Up to £5k p.a = £6. 12k p.a. = £8. £12k - £25k p.a. = £14.
£25k p.a. and up = £20 plus donation.
'Brockwell Park MAC', c/o Feast, 73 Brailsford Road, SW2 2TB.

* Kids under 10 free. 10 - 18 half parents price.

Friday, 8 June 2007

*Rare Sherlock Holmes manuscript for auction.

A handwritten copy of one Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s final Sherlock Holmes stories, The Adventures of Three Gables is expected to make £250,000 at a Sotheby’s New York auction.

Edinburgh University, where Sir Arthur studied medicine, is expected to be among those bidding for the rare manuscript.

Marsha Malinowski of auctioneers Sotheby's said: "Conan Doyle had extraordinarily clear and beautiful writing.

"He was the sort of writer who would not put pen to paper until he had thought out clearly what he wanted to write.

"So, although there are more than 100 amendments, they are usually minor changes such as clarification or emphasis."

This copy of Three Gables, bound in vellum, was once owned by the Marquis of Donegal and has been in private collection since the 1970s.

Sotheby’s have estimated it will fetch $350,000 to $500,000 when it goes under the hammer on 21 June.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

*eBay moves into Radio Ad Auctions.

eBay has now started auctioning unsold advertising airtime. In partnership eBay Bid4Spots, it has over 2,300 radio stations across the U.S.

They work as a reverse auction: customers announce how much they are prepared to pay of the spots and radio stations with unsold airtime can bid for their business.

Auctions on a website called eBay Media Marketplace.

*House auctions getting more popular.

Last year there were nearly 27,000 lots sold at 1,300 auctions in the UK, compared to 24,000 in 2005. Sales in 2006 were £6.1bn, well up on the £4.9bn in 2005.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

*Rare Alcoholics Anonymous document for auction.

Sotheby's Fine Books and Manuscripts sale on June 21 in Manhattan, contains a working draft manuscript of the original Alcoholics Anonymous document, which is expected to sell for up to $1.2 million.

Also in the sale is a rare 1611 King James ‘He’ bible. This is one of 50 copies of the valuable “He” edition, called this because of a typographical error that appears in verse five of chapter three of the Book of Ruth where "He" is used instead of "She". It is expected to fetch $50,000-$70,000, although some copies of this version have gone for as much as $400,000.

Also in the sale are letters from Abraham Lincoln, a first edition of James Joyce's Ulysses, and an autographed manuscript by Albert Einstein.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

*Chitty Chitty car makes £255,000 at auction.

There were several cars actually made for the 1968 film. This one sold at the Kruse Auction Park in Indiana.

The film was based on a book by Ian Fleming, who wrote it while recovering from a heart attack.

There are two stories as to the origin of the name ‘Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang’ The usual explanation is that it had to do with the sound of the car. However, Fleming later revealed a second meaning from the time when he was in the army. Where he was based, soldiers need a chit, or chitty, signed by an officer, before they could visit the local brothel, so when someone got one they would shout out ‘chitty, chitty, bang bang’

Fleming also has a connection with the world of Art. His mother was Augustus John’s mistress.


Uranium prices jumped $5 per lb. at auction during the week, rising to $138lb. Prices in the June 12th auction are expected to increase even more. In January the price was $74, so we have had an 86% price increase in five months! Some experts estimate that it will break the $200 barrier in the near future.

One commentator remarked that it was ‘sweaty palm time’ for procurement officers who have the job of securing supplies to keep their plants running.

All of this just goes to show a huge hole in the argument for nuclear power – the supplies are just not there!

Saturday, 2 June 2007

*Hirst skull makes headline news.

The Damien Hirst diamond skull made headline news today.
The Independent devoted their complete front page to the story and both The Financial Times and The Daily Telegraph featured it on their front pages.

You read about it here first!

Last night’s newsnight featured an interesting interview with the artist. He has now around one hundred people working for him in his ‘art factory’. As he said ‘An architect does not build his own houses’

He revealed that the diamonds on the skull are all perfect, one-third carat, and ethically sourced. Apparently, it caused a bit of a shortage in the diamond trade in 2006, as there were not that many diamonds available.

Friday, 1 June 2007

*Stolen Fine Art: Organized Crime's New Commodity?

Some experts claim that art theft has turned into a global business behind only drugs and the arms trade.

Another theory is that stolen art is functioning as a commodity – traded for guns and drugs. This theory would claim that almost all art theft is perpetrated by organised crime groups.

Personally, I think most of this is in the region of fantasyland.

While organised crime may be behind some robberies, the truth is probably much more mundane. The recent robbery of the Henry Moore sculpture is suspected by many to be the work of another organised group – Irish gypsies, who probably melted it down.

I know of a case, some years ago, where two very expensive paintings were stolen from a mansion. The papers were full of stories of international art thieves and eccentric millionaire collectors and so on. The truth was much more down to earth. The burglar was a semi-literate bloke from Finchley who had no idea of the value until he saw the news reports. Then he had no idea how to sell them:-)
The paintings were recovered as a result of a comedy of errors when the police raided a go-between who had been trying to arrange a sale. The police raid was about another matter entirely, which was actually a misunderstanding.

Anyway, they all landed up in court and got light sentences.

A far cry from organised international art crime!

*$100 Million Skull

Damien Hirst has put a diamond-encrusted skull on exhibition at The White Cube Gallery for $100,000,000. If sold, this will be the most expensive piece of sculpture ever sold. Far higher that anything sold in auction.

The skull is life sized, made in platinum and studded with 8,601 diamonds weighing 1,106 carats. It is believed that it cost the artist $20m dollars to make. An $8 million diamond decorates the crown.

The title of the piece is ‘For the Love of God’ and will be on view in the Hoxton Gallery from June 3rd.

Other works by the artist are include in the exhibition with an estimated value of over £200 million.

Damien Hirst has amassed a fortune estimated at £130M. According to the Sunday Times Rich List he is the UK‘s biggest earner of any artist, living or dead!


I will be conducting the above auction on Sunday next.

It is a great auction with huge diversity. There are 800 lots ranging from lawnmowers to antiques including the clearance of a sports shop. Among the items are golf clubs, antique furniture, a small dinosaur egg, and a coin of Pontius Pilot etc.

The auctionrooms are at 104 Branbridge Road, East Peckham, Kent TN12 5HH

You can view the catalogue here:

I love conducting this sale. The auctionrooms are well run and very honest.

*$500,000 sold in Jackson auction.

Yesterday was the first day of the two sale of Jackson family memorabilia at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.The sale was caused by unpaid storage bills.

The owner of the storage company is quoted as being satisfied with the result.
Among the items sold was Michael Jackson’s black military-style coat , which sold went for $24,000 and his MTV music award for song We Are The World which went for $16,000.

However, there were some great bargains to be had: A platinum record for Jackson’s hit song Billie-Jean went for $100 and a copy of the contract for Jackson's purchase of his Californian ranch Neverland in 1987 went for $100.

I wish I had been there, I could have got more than that in our charity shop – The Green Room or in any auction that I conducted.