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.