Monday, 30 June 2008

Terry Pratchett auctions manuscript for Alzheimer's charity.

$2.1m is top auction bid for dinner with Warren Buffett

A Chinese fund manager has paid $2.1m at an annual charity auction for a meal with financier Warren Buffett.

Zhao Danyang, who runs a Hong Kong fund called Pureheart China Growth, emerged victorious from a frenzy of last-minute bidding on eBay. He earns the right to bring up to seven friends for a meal with Buffett at an upmarket New York steakhouse, Smith & Wollensky.

When Buffett began his annual practice of auctioning a lunch eight years ago, the meal went for $25,000. Last year, the price reached $650,100.

The proceeds will go to the Glide Foundation, an organisation which helps the homeless and needy in San Francisco. It is a huge boost for the charity's $12m annual budget and staff shouted in celebration when the outcome became clear.

Buffett has pledged most of his $49bn fortune to the Gates Foundation, which tackles diseases in developing countries.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

The wedding auctioneer

Amusing short clip of an auctioneer conducting a wedding ceremony:

Pawned Renoir sells at auction

A Renoir pastel by Renoir sold for 190,000 euros at an auction on Thursday by France’s oldest pawnshop.

Dated around 1881, "Young Girl Seated in a Garden," a 24 by 19 inch drawing, was acquired by an anonymous telephone bidder.

A household institution, the Paris Credit Municipal was set up in 1777 to offer the poor an alternative to the punitive interest rates of usurers.

Run on a not-for-profit basis in partnership with the city, it accepts everything from artwork to jewels or wine as collateral for short-term loans, for as little as 30 euros.

Ninety-three percent of all borrowers repay their loans in full and reclaim their possessions, the broker says. The remaining seven percent are sold to pay off the debt.

Most pieces such as the Renoir come from French aristocrats, according to Credit Municipal spokesman Vincent Vogt.

Located in the heart of the historic Marais district, the Credit Municipal acquired its nickname -- "Ma Tante" or "Auntie" -- when a son of the 19th-century monarch Louis Philippe pawned his watch and chain to cover a gambling debt, telling his mother he left it "chez ma tante."

Saturday, 28 June 2008


A 23-year-old hairdresser from Virginia, Kelly Gray, set up an eBay auction, last week, for the bridesmaid spot in her wedding.

She hoped to pay for some of the $7,000 wedding costs. Her expectations were more than exceeded when the winning bid came to $5,700.

But more good news was on the way. The winning bid was from the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group who also offered to pay for all the booze and upped their offer to $10,000.

They intend to launch an online contest or get a celebrity to appear as the bridesmaid.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Entire city to be auctioned.

Higgenbotham Auctioneers International announced today that their firm would sell at auction White's City, New Mexico. The entire municipality as well as its surrounding acreage will be offered on July 14th at 11am. The city, which was founded in the early 1920's by Charlie L. White, is a national icon and has been managed by the White family since its beginnings in the roaring 20's.

Situated at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, White's City thrives on the parks national draw of daily visitors and boasts many amenities, which cater to the constant flow of vehicular traffic and tourist. The city has two operating motels with 105 rooms, RV park with 46 spaces with water and electricity, 25 campsites, U.S. Post Office, grocery store, two restaurants, gift shops, gas station, museum, opera house, ice cream parlor and all the desert beauty of the Guadalupe Mountains.

Included in the auction are all the assets of the city, which include its water rights for 460 acre-feet of daily potable water usage. As the only source of potable water for nearly 20 miles, this asset is truly significant as it is the life's blood of the community.

Also to be sold at auction will be the 30,000 items that are currently housed in the city's Million Dollar Museum.

A short list features firearms, antiques, collectibles, countless items of a by gone era, carriages, geological and archaeological fossils, dollhouses, clocks, china, glass, furniture, precious stones, southwestern antiquities and so forth. These items will be offered individually and the auction will be held after the close of the real estate sale and will span three days, July 14th through 16th.

For more information on the White's City Auction please contact Laura Whitt at Higgenbotham Auctioneers (800) 257-4161 or visit our website at

Friday, 20 June 2008

Early phone book makes $170,000

An 1878 New Haven telephone book that was one of the first directories in the USA has been sold for $170,500 at Christie's in New York.

Auctioneers had expected the phone book to fetch between $30,000 and $40,000, but the price skyrocketed in a battle among six collectors.

The dingy white New Haven directory is no thicker than a junk mail flyer and lists 400 merchants, lawyers, doctors and others who subscribed to the phone service in 1878.

Christie's auctioneer Tom Lecky says the bidding war came after new details about the book emerged. He says additional research showed that an earlier Chicago directory is a reproduction and an earlier San Francisco book is less comprehensive than New Haven's.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

19th Century phone book for auction.

One of the first telephone books in the United States, published in Connecticut in 1878, is expected to fetch between $30,000 and $40,000 at an auction today.

New Haven's early phone book, published by the Connecticut District Telephone Co., is the earliest to come on the auction market, said Tom Lecky, head of books and manuscripts at Christie's, the New York auction house that is selling the small piece of history.

It was no thicker than a junk mail flyer, but it offered more than telephone numbers. It advised callers to speak slowly and distinctly, greet the person on the other line with "Hulloa!" and end the conversation with "That is All."

The early directory, printed on a sheet of cardboard, listed 50 subscribers.

Skyjacker cash sold at auction

Buyers at a Dallas auction on Friday paid a total of $37,433 for 15 tattered $20 bills taken by notorious skyjacker D.B. Cooper in 1971.

The bills went for as much as three times as much as expected, Heritage Auction Galleries said in a news release.

Two of the bills that bear the clearly visible handwritten initials of investigators who handled the money after it was discovered in 1980 went for $6,572 each. A buyer paid $358 for a remnant of a note that consisted of a small portion of the printed San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank seal in the design.

Cooper hijacked a jetliner in the U.S. Northwest, was given $200,000 in $20 bills, and then parachuted somewhere between Reno, Nev., and Seattle. He was never apprehended.

Brian Ingram of Mena, Ark., was 8-years-old in 1980 when he found the money in the sand along the banks of the Columbia River near Vancouver, Wash.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Princess Diana's notes to butler for auction

Deeply personal letters written by Diana, Princess of Wales to one of the Royal Family's most trusted servants will feature in an auction of his possessions expected to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds.

In one of the most heartfelt letters - written just seven days after the birth of her first son, Prince William - she thanks William Tallon, commonly known as 'Backstairs Billy', for all his "lovely presents" and describes her emotions over the first flush of parenthood.

"We are not sure at the moment what has hit us, except a very strong pair of lungs!," the Princess writes. "Both parents are making little sense, we just seem to spend most of our time gazing at this tiny person!"

The letter is one of eight between the Princess and Mr Tallon which form part of a collection of 694 items expected to fetch more than £200,000 when sold off by auctioneers Reeman Dansie of Colchester, Essex, next month.

William Tallon worked in the Royal household from 1951 to 2002, including 25 years as Steward and Page of the Backstairs.

He never sought to profit from his 51 years' service to the family and took his secrets to the grave. However, it was one of the conditions of his will that the items would be sold after his death and the money passed to the beneficiaries of his estate. He died last November at the age of 72.

Of her first pregnancy Diana wrote: "It goes without saying how delighted we are at the prospect of the PoW [Princess of Wales] expanding in more ways than one! It should make Ascot week exciting."

Auctioneer James Grinter said the letters themselves should fetch between £500 and £1,500.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Pamela Anderson’s car for auction to help PETA

Pamela Anderson is selling her prized Dodge Viper and donating the proceeds to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The 40-year-old actress recently held a private estate sale to benefit the animal organization, and she's planning to personally oversee the sale of her 2000 Viper, which she customized herself with white racing stripes. The car plays a prominent role in Anderson's forthcoming E! series, "Pam: Girl on the Loose,"

The car will be among the offerings at Julien's Auctions' Summer Entertainment Sale of Hollywood memorabilia,to be held June 21 and 22 at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

Friday, 13 June 2008

100 Chanel bags for auction. is holding an online auction featuring a curated collection of more than 100 vintage Chanel bags in pristine condition. The collection is an assortment of one-of-a kind and classic Chanel bags.

The online auction event open to the public beginning June 19 and running through June 30 at

Wednesday, 11 June 2008


Hitchcock’s driver’s license is coming up for sale at Julien's Auctions' Summer Entertainment Sale of Hollywood memorabilia, to be held June 21 and 22 at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

Other items available include personal snapshots of Marilyn Monroe and Sammy Davis Jr. and an original "Ben Hur" script signed by Charlton Heston.

The sale will be broadcast live on Auction Network.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Famous Porsche coming up for auction.

The Porsche made famous by Steve McQueen in the 70s is going up on the auction block this August.

The 1970 Porsche 908/2 was raced several times by McQueen, including once when he was driving with a duct-taped cast on a broken foot and once when there were cameras attached to the vehicle to collect movie footage. The car has a 3.0 litre 350hp engine and is expected to sell for between $1.5 - $2 million at the auction in Carmel Valley, CA by Bonhams & Butterfields.

Saturday, 7 June 2008


Just a reminder to folks out there that I am freelance auctioneer and always interested in work.

I have conducted over 2,000 auctions in almost every category under the sun. While I have mostly specialised in antiques and collectables, I have done property, land lettings, hay and produce, saddles and tack, cars and even gold auctions. I once conducted an auction literally from the back of a truck! Goods advertised had been delayed in traffic and there was no time to unload, so I just sold from the tailboard as the items were being unpacked. Another time the lights failed in the middle of a night auction. As luck would have it there was a box of torches in the auction, so while the auction owner was looking for an electrician, I carried on the auction with a torch in one hand and the gavel in the other. On yet another occasion, the whole staff forgot to turn up, so I conducted the auction, did the clerking, acted as porter and did the accounts. It was a small auction of around 150 lots, but was still tricky having to hold up the goods, do the selling and writing the buyer number and hammer price.

I have also conducted hundreds of charity auctions. I love doing these as you don’t need to do the same speed as at a commercial auction so there is more time to enjoy yourself and drag out the money in a good atmosphere. The biggest one that I ever conducted was in a colossal marquee in Wandsworth Park. There were probably over 1,000 people present with a door price of £100 each. It was so big that we could not see to the back of the marquee, so we had staff with light sabres strategically stationed. Comedian Ben Elton was my warm-up act. He complimented me after the sale on my selling and speaking ability. From a motormouth like him, it was quite a compliment. The first item sold was £15,000. It was a trip to Hawaii and island hopping for 14 days. The second lot was a day on a coastguard cutter chasing smugglers. That made £800.

Hitler ballot paper for auction

A ballot paper from the 1933 election that brought Adolf Hitler to power is to be auctioned by Mullock's Auctioneers.

The paper, to be sold on June 25 at an auction of historical documents at Ludlow Racecourse, bears the name of Hitler with those of Rudolf Hess and Hermann Goering.

On the matter of ballot papers, The Green Room (a charity shop that I manage) has a couple of original, unused ballot papers of the first free elections in South Africa in 1994.

These are very colourful and each party has a photo of its leader, including Nelson Mandela.

Price £10 each. These are highly decorative and a piece of history. All profits go to environmental causes.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Titanic life-jacket for auction.

Christie’s plans to put it on the auction block in New York City on June 25.

Christie’s sold another Titanic life-jacket last year in London for $119,000. This is the first to be sold at auction in the United States and one of only six believed to have survived to this day.

The vendor, Mr. MacQuarrie never met his maternal grandfather, John James Dunbar, who traveled to Halifax to help with the cleanup after the sinking of the Titanic. But through family lore, he knows Mr. Dunbar brought the life-jacket back to Cape Breton after finding it on a beach while working with crews recovering debris and bodies from the April 14, 1912, disaster that cost at least 1,496 passengers their lives. It has been in his family’s possession for 96 years.

Mr. MacQuarrie was turned down flat by several Ontario auctioneers, until he contacted Christie’s and sent photos of the life-jacket.

The Titanic life-jacket that sold for $119,000 last year might have fetched such a high price because it belonged to Lady Duff Gordon’s secretary. And also the story about the Gordons was that he had been accused of paying off the officers and crew members in the lifeboat to row away from the Titanic before the boat was completely filled. He was later cleared of that during the inquiries.

Christie’s estimates the life-jacket will fetch $60,000 to $80,000.

Mother offers baby son for auction on EBay.

A number of people called authorities across Germany after seeing the offer on eBay that read: "Baby -- collection only. Offer my nearly new baby for sale because it cries too much. Male, 70 cm long."

The listing was online for approximately two hours before it was removed.

The woman told the German newspaper The Bild that the whole thing was a joke.

She said, "It was only a joke. I just wanted to see if someone would make an offer. They’ve taken my son to hospital and I’ve got to take psychiatric tests next week."

The auction received no bids at the starting price of 1 euro.

Sunday, 1 June 2008


A device used on stage circa 1920 by Harry Houdini to cut a girl into eight pieces is coming up for sale at Bonhams in Los Angeles on June 16 (lot 3173W).

Estimate is only $4,000, but expect it to make more.