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.