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.