A document calling in a debt, and signed by the French playwright Molière, is to be sold by auctioneers Bonhams & Butterfields on October 15.
Born in 1622, Jean Baptiste Poquelin de Molière is considered the godfather of French theater. His signatures are exceptionally rare – no other examples are known to have been sold in auction since 1895 – and this is believed to be the last in private hands.
The document bearing his signature and dating from 1667 authorizes a certain Claude Le Long to collect a debt that had been owed to the playwright since 1665. Molière had lent the money to a gentleman named François de La Court.
The one-page document was previously sold at auction in Paris in 1860, and purchased by a collector named Dubrunfaut for 950 francs – at the time the second highest price ever paid for a signature in France- befitting Molière’s status as France’s answer to Shakespeare.
This document, signed by Molière in his precise handwriting, is being sold together with two other documents signed by members of his family, and is expected to fetch between $40,000-60,000.
The illustrated auction catalog will be online for review and purchase in the weeks preceding the sale at www.bonhams.com/