Saturday, 19 December 2009

Dickens toothpick fetches $9,000 in New York auction

An ivory and gold toothpick once owned by Charles Dickens has sold at auction in New York City for $9,150 (£5,625).

The item is engraved with the author's initials. It was sold by heirs to the Barnes and Noble family.

The pre-sale estimate was $3,000 to $5,000. The auctioneer, Bonhams, said the buyer did not want to be named.

An authentication letter from Dickens's sister-in-law says the author of Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol used the toothpick up to his death in 1870.

The author, also known by the pen-name of Boz, created some of the most memorable fictional characters of all time.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Stephen Fry's Kingdom props for auction

From bundles of fake £50 notes to the sign which once hung above The Startled Duck pub, costumes, props and memorabilia seen in the hit Sunday night TV drama Kingdom are set to go under the hammer at a Norfolk auction room later this month.

Two auctions at Watton Sale Rooms will see hundreds of lots from the axed ITV show sold to the highest bidder.

Despite rumours earlier this year that a fourth series was in the offing, the show, which was filmed in Norfolk, was cancelled in October and now production company Parallel films is selling off a warehouse full of Kingdom goodies.

In the first sale, which will take place next Tuesday, furniture, outside props and set décor will go under the hammer and then a week later, on December 22, costumes, signs and other memorabilia will be auctioned off.

Auctioneer Stephen Roberts said: “There are thousands of items.

“There is furniture, signs, including road signs for Market Shipborough, Fakenheath and the A147, and no end of stuff that is in boxes including the boxed up possessions of each character.”

In one of the desks staff at the saleroom found a framed photo of Celia Imrie, who played Gloria, and the boy who played her son.

“When you look at the amount of things it makes you realise the attention to detail that went into making the series,” added Mr Roberts.

The memorabilia will be auctioned off along with other items which have come into the sale rooms and though many of the Kingdom pieces only have value as bits of furniture others, such as The Startled Duck sign, could fetch considerably more if serious collectors enter the bidding.

Mr Roberts continued: “It is impossible to say what things will go for.

“It is like everything else that comes up at auction - it is worth what somebody is prepared to pay for it.

“If we have some people who are fans then things will make money.”

Star items in the auction are expected to include Peter Kingdom's desk, the Startled Duck sign and the wooden duck which sat on the pub bar.

There could also be stiff competition for some of the Market Shipborough road signs.

During its three season run Kingdom regularly attracted upwards of five million viewers who were eager to catch up with the latest mysteries and exploits of the Norfolk solicitor and his eccentric family, strange clients and hapless colleagues.

The show has also been screened in America, Australia and in several other European countries.

As well as Stephen Fry, who played Peter Kingdom, the show also starred Celia Imrie as Gloria Millington, Tony Slattery as Sidney Snell and Karl Davies as Lyle Anderson.

For Norfolk champion Mr Fry, who has a home near Swaffham, starring in Kingdom was a dream job.

He was the one who broke the news of the show's cancellation on his Twitter micro-blog back in October.

At the time he said: “Our masters at ITV have decided there shan't be a fourth series of the television drama Kingdom.

“I am sorry because it was such a pleasure making them in my beloved Norfolk.

“The cast of local people who cheerfully subjected themselves to the indignities of a background artist's day will all be missed and their memories cherished.”

ITV later confirmed the move. In a statement it said: “Kingdom has performed well for us over the last three years but we will not be developing any further episodes.

“As has always been the case we are constantly looking at ways to refresh the mix of drama on ITV1 to ensure that we get the balance right between both old and new titles.”

The first auction takes place on December 15 at Watton Sale Rooms, off Norwich Road, and begins at 10am. The second will take place on December 22. Items will be available for view the day before. For more information call 01953 885676.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Tony Benn's tea cosy sells at auction.

The Animal Aid auction on Sunday was great. here are some of the results.

1. Giant Montezuma dark chocolate tree donated by Veganstore £20

2. Signed book, “Barcelona Plates”, written by Alexei Sayle plus a signed photo £14

3. Signed photo of Russell Brand £10

4. Voucher for a high quality, ethically produced portrait of your pets and family. Donated by Sarah Moynihan £40

5. Signed photo of X Factor presenter, Dermot O’Leary £8

6. Photo of Arsenal FC first team plus a signed pennant and certificate of authentication £105

7. Signed photo of David Tennant as Dr Who £30

8. Signed Kylie Minogue CD, “Boombox” plus certificate of authentication £40

9. Voucher donated by Redwoods Foods. £35

10. Tony Benn’s very own teacosy! £47

11. Voucher for a pair of shoes donated by Vegetarian Shoes. £65

12. Signed photo’s of Adam Croasdell and Marc Elliott as Dr Jenkins and Syed Masood from EastEnders £15

13. Shirt worn by actress Helen Worth, who plays Gail Platt in Coronation Street. She wore this shirt in a scene in Corrie. Includes certificate of authentication £10

14. Signed photo of Manic Street Preachers plus rare signed EP, “God Save The Manics”. The mother of bass player Nicky, donated this item to Animal Aid. £75

15. Signed photo of Steven Gerrard who plays for Liverpool FC and the England National Team £25

16. Fake leather dog coat from Pete Townshend. The coat was owned by Pete and was made for him by a fan. £55

17. Signed photo of Rebecca Addlington - 2008 Olympic gold medallist. She is the first British swimmer to win a gold medal in 100 years. £5

18. Signed photo of Joanna Lumley as Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous £38

19. Laser signed photo of the cast of Coronation Street £97

20. Case of vegan wine donated by Vinceremos £85

21. £50 voucher donated by Ethical Wares £35

22. Vintage Animal Aid campaign T-shirt signed by A.T. £12

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Raphael drawing sells for £29.2M in London auction


LONDON — Auctioneer Christie's says a drawing by Raphael has sold for about 29.2 million pounds ($47.5 million).

Christie's says the Italian virtuoso's work has won one of the highest prices ever paid for an Old Master at auction.

A portrait by Dutch master Rembrandt also fetched a high price, selling for 20 million pounds ($32.7 million).

The auctioneer said the works were sold Tuesday as part of its Old Masters and 19th century art sale in London.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Auction at Christmas without Cruelty Fayre

CHRISTMAS WITHOUT CRUELTY FAYRE takes place this coming Sunday Nov. 6th.10am-5pm.

Venue, Kensington Town Hall, just yards away from High Street Kensington Tube.

As usual, I will be running the Green Party/Green Room stall. I will also be conducting the Auction at 2.30pm.

Our stall is downstairs outside the creche.

Hope to meet loads of you there. If you haven't been there before, it really is a wonderful event.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

*£8 for empty plastic bag at auction

The auction on Saturday was a great success.

Adams & Smith Auctioneers (alias artists Hollington & Kyprianou)put on a very professional production. About 50 people attended. I was introduced after a rousing rendition of all six verses of The Internationale.

Among the prices realised:

Packet of anadins......£5.50.

A used golf ball.......£40. This allowed me a rant about the iniquities of Donald Trump's vandalism in Scotland and 'Scottish Clearances'

Bottle of water........£4. The greatest con of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Empty plastic bag......£8. Allowed me to give a quick briefing on these environmental terrors and mention my GLA paper 'Plastic not Fantastic'

Banking counter pen and holder......£48. Made the point that while people were expected to trust the banks, the banks didn't even trust their customers with a plastic pen!!

Several hundred pounds was raised to help send protestors to Copenhagen.

The whole event was filmed and will be available in the near future.

See more at

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Auction this Saturday.

On this coming Saturday, I will be conducting my unusual auction - ever. I am being transported to the year 2034 to auction off some post-capitalist artifacts.

See the details here:

Welcome to Adams & Smith, auctioneers of late-Capitalist era artefacts.

The year is 2034.

The era of free market capitalism and neo liberalism is well and truly over, and a new world order has taken its place.

In its wisdom, the Federal Council of Autonomous Zones has issued a directive abolishing all cash transactions. To celebrate, Adams & Smith proudly offer 13 lots of genuine, once ubiquitous late capitalist artefacts taken from the Hollington & Kyprianou estate.

Each lot reveals a curious aspect of that bygone age, shedding light on the odd and dangerously contradictory practices of the time. With provenance certified by Tamasin Cave of SpinWatch, each lot unearths the unsavoury history connecting government, big business and the lobbying industry.

With this last ever auction, Adams & Smith are pleased to offer you a final opportunity to bring the trappings of late-Capitalism back into your life.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Galileo's fingers found in jar bought at auction.

(CNN) -- Two fingers cut from the hand of Italian astronomer Galileo nearly 300 years ago have been rediscovered more than a century after they were last seen, an Italian museum director said Monday.

They were purchased recently at an auction by a person who brought them to the Museum of the History of Science in Florence, suspecting what they were, museum director Paolo Galluzzi said.

Three fingers were cut from Galileo's hand in March 1737 when his body was moved from a temporary monument to its final resting place in Florence, Italy. The last tooth remaining in his lower jaw was also taken, Galluzzi said.

Two of the fingers and the tooth ended up in a sealed glass jar that disappeared sometime after 1905.

There had been "no trace" of them for more than 100 years until the person who bought them in the auction came to the museum recently.

"I was very curious," the Galluzzi said.

"There is a description from 1905 by the last person to have seen these objects. It provides us with a very detailed description of the container and the contents inside," Galluzzi explained.

The jar "matches in every minute detail" the description, Galluzzi said.
But by the time the urn went on sale, the label saying what was inside had been lost, so the sellers and the auctioneer did not realize its significance.

"Everybody knew there were fingers and a tooth, but the people preparing the auction didn't know it was Galileo," Galluzzi said.

The owner who bought the fingers wants to remain anonymous, Galluzzi said, so the museum is not giving more details about who sold them or when.

The museum plans to display the fingers and tooth in March 2010, after it re-opens following a renovation, Galluzzi said.

The museum has had the third Galileo finger since 1927, so the digits will be reunited for the first time in centuries, he added.

He said it was little surprise that the 18th century followers of Galileo would have mimicked the practice of those who persecuted him.

It is not yet clear whether enough organic material remains in the newly discovered fingers for DNA testing, Galluzzi said, but if there is, it could shed light on the blindness that afflicted Galileo late in his life and his final illness.

Galileo Galilei invented the telescope -- among many other achievements -- which enabled him to discover that the planet Jupiter has moons. He became the foremost advocate of Copernican astronomy, which denied that the earth was the fixed centre of the universe. He died in 1642.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Painting by Queen Victoria sells in ‘Royal Car Boot’ auction

It is an unpredictable business, selling off the family silver. When the family possessions of the late Duke of Kent were auctioned in London yesterday, there were two things of which one could be fairly certain: that there would be a huge interest in the sale and much speculation about why the Duke’s heirs — who include Prince Michael of Kent — needed to mount what has been described as the Royal Family’s car boot sale.

What might not have been predicted is that an egg cup would be sold for £14,000, while a Coronation chair would fail to sell at all. Even a back-scratcher went for £4,000 and a set of tea towels from Sandringham fetched £2,000, helping the collection of 336 lots to reach a total of £2.1 million.

The red silk-covered chair chair, made for the Duke of Kent to use at the Coronation of his brother, George VI, in 1937, was meant to be one of the star items. It was one of the few lots put on display at the Christie’s sale and had been given an estimate of £15,000 to £20,000.

When bidding struggled to reach £9,500, failing to reach its reserve, Ted Clive, the auctioneer, was obliged to withdraw it from the sale. “I was surprised,” he said afterwards. “But stranger things have happened. It is an important object, but an important historical object. It is clearly an exhibition object — it is not something that could be used. On the day, there was not a potential buyer for an exhibition object.”

He had better luck with the egg cup, but then it was no ordinary egg cup. Billed as a Russian grey Kalgan jasper egg cup with rhodonite egg, it was stamped with the Russian imperial coat of arms, and sold for about ten times its estimate of £1,000 to $1,500.

The auction was not the first time that the late Duke’s property has gone under the hammer. After he died in a plane crash in 1942, Princess Marina, his widow, was dropped from the Civil List. Most of her husband’s money was left in trust for his children, Prince Michael, the Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra. The three-day sale of his possessions in 1947 raised £92,300. Princess Marina died in 1968.
The family says that many of the lots had been in storage and they decided that it was time for a clear-out. The auction does come at an opportune time: Prince and Princess Michael, who are not working members of the Royal Family, will from next year have to pay £120,000 annual rent for their home at Kensington Palace — previously the rent has been paid by the Queen. In 2006 the couple sold their home at Nether Lypiatt in Gloucestershire for £5.75 million.

The auction included silverware, furniture, tapestries and other works of art. It is a fine art judging how much people will pay at auction, particularly a royal one. Christie’s followed its traditional practice of publishing highly conservative estimates for most lots. A picnic set that belonged to George V, put down at £500-£700, went to an internet bidder from the Netherlands for £11,875. A pair of mahogany George III hall benches estimated at £30,000-£50,000 went for £187,250.

Precious cast-offs

The lots sold included:
Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna’s dressing table service: £6,000
An album of photographs by the Grand Duchess: £8,125
King George II Coronation canopy bell: £13,750
Silver necklace with miniature photographs of Victoria, Albert and their nine children: £2,750
Portrait by Queen Victoria of her daughter Princess Louise, after Franz Xavier Winterhalter: £10,000
Cartier Art Deco gold-mounted clock: £76,850
Silver model of Bentley-Jackson Special “Mother Gun”, as driven by Prince Michael in 1992: £20,000
Gold and enamel necklace by Nardi of Venice, given to Princess Michael of Kent: £7,500
Silver and enamel notepad holder, given to Princess Mary, later Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood: £4,750

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

JFK’s last autograph sold at auction

London, November 16 (ANI): The last autograph signed by late US President John F Kennedy has been auctioned off for a whopping 39,000 dollars.

He had signed it next to the date, Nov 22, 1963 on the front page of a copy of the Dallas Morning News, on the day he was assassinated.

A woman in the crowd had requested for the autograph, just two hours before his death.

Now, Joe Maddalena, president and owner of Profiles in History in Calabassas, California has purchased the item.

He plans to “hold on to it for a while and put it on display with other JFK items at the appropriate times.”

“It’s chillingly historic because it documents the day, documents the location and it’s certainly one of the last signatures of John Kennedy,” the Telegraph quoted Doug Norwine, a director at Heritage Auctions, as saying. (ANI)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

When Auctioneers had bodyguards...

MEN with Uzi machine guns, blackmail from terrorists/criminals and empty auction rooms -- Irish auctioneers have faced them all down through the years. But how will they deal with the fall-out from the credit crunch?

With Finance Minister Brian Lenihan now finally admitting that the Government is facing its toughest economic test in 20 years, watch out for the repercussions.
Auctioneers are going to be up against it to clinch sales under the hammer in the weeks ahead. But don't despair -- the profession has a long track record of battling against the odds.

Our auctioneering professionals are unlikely to come up against anything worse than they have confronted before.

Auctioneering dates back to the earliest times. The Babylonians, for example, held marriage markets at which women were sold by auction.

Commenting on this in 1931, L V Bennett, president of the Irish Auctioneers' and Estate Agents' Association (fore-runner of the IAVI) observed wryly: "No information is given as to the disposal of the unattractive and, consequently, unsold lots, nor are we told if the auctioneer received his commission in kind".

By Roman times, the process of selling by auction had come to be recognised as the most convenient and equitable method of disposing of property in the best interests of buyer and seller.

During this period, the auctioneer was always a soldier who, as a signal of commencing the auction, stuck a spear in the ground -- hence the sale being described as "sub hasta" (under the spear).

As related in the book Under The Hammer: Property in Ireland, the history of the IAVI, auctioneering can indeed be a pretty hazardous business, even nowadays.
Repossessions or bank sales can be particularly tricky. A case in point was related by leading auctioneer Patrick Stephenson of James H North & Co, who described a gruelling experience when trying to sell a farm on the instructions of the High Court and on behalf of the Northern Bank.

The auction was preceded by a number of threatening phone calls to the auctioneer, who then applied to the court for an injunction to stop the owners "watching and besetting". He even received a mass card in the post. The auction was ultimately held with two detectives at the back of the room concealing Uzi machine guns beneath their coats. Happily, there were no actual fireworks.

Other auctioneers have had similar hair-raising experiences over the years (some involving threats from terrorists).

Auctions have always been a pretty hard-nosed business, however -- though much better regulated now than in days of yore.

Selling by an inch of a candle is mentioned by Samuel Pepys in his famous 1660 diary. During the bidding, a small piece of candle was burned and the last bidder before the candle went out was declared the buyer. In the mid-1920s, an auction held some 50 years earlier, during which the auctioneer remained silent is described in the IAA yearbook: "It is only right to mention he was not a Dublin auctioneer -- but, when anyone bid, he gave him a glass of brandy and the person who got the last glass of brandy was declared the purchaser of the lot offered for sale."
Now maybe that's the kind of spirited approach needed to perk up things in the auction rooms over the coming weeks ...
From the Irish Independent.

Friday, 13 November 2009

EBay for the rich: New auction site helps millionaires quietly offload pricey wares

In another sign the economy has plumbed new depths, the rich (who, need it be said, aren't like you and me) have a new, high-tech way to unload their lavish wares -- the Internet. U.S. millionaires down on their luck and looking to offload those heirloom family jewels, or that underutilized limousine, can now turn to an online auction site exclusively for the jet set called BillionaireXchange.

The company says it already has helped sell some $180 million in assets during a 10-month test phase, and has noticed an increase in the number of distressed transactions in the U.S., Reuters reported. "I would say that in the United States market, that's probably the majority of the types of the transactions that we're seeing right now," Quintin Thompson, co-founder and executive partner of BillionaireXchange, told the news agency.

Thompson said the recession has created a need for the rich to sell off luxury items in a discreet way to avoid shame and embarrassment. BillionaireXchange, which launched Monday, acts as a unique conduit to do just that. The company is looking to exploit the void between mass-market online auction sites, such as eBay (EBAY), and traditional luxury auction houses such as Sotheby's and Christie's, which generally focus on fine art and collectibles.

BillionaireXchange's online business model allows it to conduct sales and trades of nearly any type of high-end item, including businesses and foreclosed homes. The Miami-based company's business is aimed at an exclusive clientele, members with at least $2 million in verifiable net worth, Reuters said.

The site, the slogan for which is "Untouched by compromise," will charge sellers a 5% fee on sales, and would have raked in nearly $9 million in revenue if it had charged such a fee during the test phase, it said.

Among BillionaireXchange clients are professional athletes and A-list actors, Reuters said. The five-member firm claims more than 26,000 multimillionaires as well as "nearly a dozen" billionaires as its members.

Rare Jacobean manuscript sells for $84,000

Rare Jacobean manuscript sells for $84,000


A rare Jacobean manuscript found in an old trunk stored in a castle attic sold at auction today for £84,000.

The hitherto unknown play by Lord Herbert of Cherbury, a close friend of the poet John Donne, was discovered in a folder marked “Old Poems” at Powis Castle, in Welshpool, Wales.

It was uncovered when the owner of the castle, the Earl of Powis, Dr John George Herbert, showed a team of experts two trunks of manuscripts during a valuation.

David Park, head of Bonhams’ books, maps and manuscript department said the discovery offered an insight into Lord Herbert’s literary aspirations – setting it apart from the other letters and poems found in the trunks.

“They contained the usual mixture. There were typed letters from the estate’s archive and the like mixed in with 17th century property deeds, themselves not without interest,” he said.

“It turned out later that everything in the trunks had been meticulously listed, item by item. But with one exception. This was a folder, marked, ”Old Poems“. Some of these were just 17th century copies – others were clearly in the hand of Lord Powis’s forebear, Lord Herbert of Cherbury.”

He said Lord Herbert, the elder brother of the poet George Herbert, wrote poems in the same ’metaphysical’ style as his close family friend, John Donne.

Until now, Lord Cherbury has been best known for his works on philosophy and a lively autobiography published by Horace Walpole in the 18th century.

“This tells us a great deal about his military prowess and how attractive women found him, but next to nothing about his literary ambitions,” Mr Park said.

But he added: “In this folder, there it was, a play, and clearly the draft of a play.”

He said the manuscript was full of crossings out and contained one heading, ’The Amazon’.

According to the auctioneers, an Amazon masque – a type of dramatic performance - was due to be performed before James I and his court on New Year’s Day in 1618 but it was cancelled for unknown reasons.

The manuscript itself, which is written in a pre-bound booklet of foolscap size, is set out in a manner favoured by professional dramatists of the period.

It was sold to an agent acting on behalf of an unknown buyer.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Beer Bottle from Hindenburg Disaster for auction

A singed bottle of beer recovered from the ashes of the Hindenburg disaster is expected to fetch $4,000 to $8,000 at auction this weekend -- the highest price ever for a bottle of beer.

Though most of the 62-year-old suds remain in the bottle, auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said the contents of the Lowenbrau bottle, discovered by a New Jersey firefighter in 1937 at the site of the airship's historic disaster, are undrinkable.

"It is the most valuable bottle of beer ever sold," said Aldridge of the British auction house Henry Aldridge & Sons. "But you wouldn't like to drink it, let me put it that way. It would taste putrid."

The Hindenburg, an enormous passenger-carrying hydrogen-filled German airship, burst into flames in May 6, 1937, over Lakehurst, N.J., killing 38 people.

The bottle, along with a silver-plated pitcher also discovered by fire Chief Leroy Smith at the scene of the disaster and estimated to fetch $17,000 to $22,000, is part of an auction of Hindenburg memorabilia going under the hammer on Saturday.
Scorch marks on both the bottle and the pitcher bear silent witness to the historic inferno.

"About 20 percent of the beer evaporated from the bottle. Some of the label is still intact and you can make out 'Lowenbrau' and 'Munich.' The label is heavily browned," said Aldridge.

The heat from the fire caused the seams of the pitcher's handle to pop, Aldridge said. The pitcher bears the logo of the Deutsche Zeppelin Reedrei airline that operated the famous Hindenburg

Smith, then the 37-year-old fire chief in Matawan, N.J, recovered six bottles and the pitcher while cleaning up in the wake of the disaster. He buried them in a field when the area was sealed off and dug them up later. He distributed five of the bottles to the members of his squad and kept one and the pitcher for himself.

In 1977, the widow of one fireman gave his bottle back to Smith, who then donated it to the Lowenbrau brewery where it remains today. Smith's niece received the fireman's bottle and the pitcher in the 1960s.

Aldridge, whose firm is the largest auctioneer of relics from the Titanic, said people are endlessly fascinated by disaster.

"The Hindenburg was the most famous air disaster in history," Aldridge said. "It was the largest airship to have ever flown and continues to fascinate people."

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Lock of Elvis Presley's hair goes to auction on November 14th

A lock of Elvis Presley's hair will be on the auction block on November 14th.

The strand of hair from the King was saved for years by fan, Thomas B. Morgan Jr. He says he acquired it from Homer Gill Gilland, Mr. Presley's personal barber.

The auction house, Henry Aldridge & Son said the lock will be accompanied by letters, certification, and has a pre-auction estimate of £150 to £250.

Pound for pound, celebrity hair is now the most valuable commodity in the world. I have a bit of JFK hair for sale in The Green Room.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

$100 K for a single comic book

$100 K for a single comic book?

They may be called "comics", but the money they're generating at auction is no laughing matter.

They're halfway through a 2-day event at Ameristar Casino being conducted by Mound City Auctions, and auctioneer Rob Weiman, reports that on Sunday, they sold a copy of "X-Men #1" for $101,000.

A copy of "Avengers #1" sold for $62,000, and Weiman says the total haul from Session 1 topped $490,000.

On Monday, it's more of the same.

"Justice League of America #1 graded at 8.5 (on a scale of 10)...that one we've been hearing a lot of buzz about from the guys who've been here to buy them," Weiman says. "I would say that one might go for as much as $30,000."

But the big fish in Monday's lot is expected to be a copy of "Amazing Fantasy #15", coveted by collectors because it's the first appearance of Spider-Man.

Even though it's only rated 8 out of 10 in part because it has some "off-white pages", Weiman anticipates the final selling price to be between $50,000 and $80,000, if not higher.

What makes grown men (and the buyers are almost exclusively male) shell out five figures for a single comic that's only 22-pages long and they'll likely never read?

"They're modern-day mythology, is what they are," Weiman submits. "It's the same as any other valuable collectible. A lot of people use them as sort of a hedge fund, an investment so to speak."

"Just like you can take your money and put it into foreign currency, stocks, bonds, gold."

And are comic books "art", or just pop culture?

Weiman casts his vote for "art".

"It might not have seemed that way up until recently," Weiman admits. "But in a lot of cases, I would say that there is definitely artistic quality and artistic integrity in the world of comic books."

For more information about Session 2 of the comic book auction at Ameristar Casino, go to

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

17th Century Women's Lib play for auction

A rare Jacobean manuscript of a play about women's liberation, which was found in a trunk at a castle, is expected to fetch £90,000 at auction.

The unknown play by Lord Edward Herbert was found during a valuation by auctioneers Bonhams at Powis Castle in Welshpool, Powys.

It is believed the play was to have been performed before James I and his court in 1618, but it was cancelled.

The manuscript of the play, called The Amazon, includes crossings out.

It was discovered by auctioneer Felix Pryor during a valuation, and will be auctioned next month.

He said it was found in a folder marked Old Poems and buried in a trunk, along with other documents, that had been stored in an attic at the castle.

'The Amazon'

Bonhams said the play was about women's liberation, and "how well women would do without men" and "how useful divorce is".

Mr Pryor said: "There were typed letters from the estate's archive and the like mixed in with 17th Century property deeds, themselves not without interest.

"It turned out later that everything in the trunks had been meticulously listed, item by item. But with one exception. This was a folder, marked, 'Old Poems'.

"Some of these were just 17th Century copies - others were clearly in the hand of Lord Powis's forebear, Lord Herbert of Chirbury.

"And in this folder, there it was. A play. And clearly the draft of a play.

"It had lots of crossings out. It even had a heading: The Amazon."

Mr Pryor said he had researched the manuscript and found that there had been a play of that name due to be performed before James I on New Year's Day in 1618.

But for some reason it had been cancelled.

He added: "The manuscript itself, which is written in a sort of pre-bound booklet of foolscap size, is set out in the manner that one can identify as typical of professional dramatists of the period."

The manuscript will be auctioned on 10 November by Bonhams.

Powis Castle was built by Welsh princes and is now home to the Earl of Powis.

The castle has a renowned garden with Italianate terraces, and has one of the finest collections of paintings and furniture in Wales.

There is also a collection of treasures from India displayed in the Clive Museum.

Europe’s first road atlas from 17th century to be sold at auction

Europe’s first road atlas from 17th century to be sold at auction

LONDON - The first road atlas of its kind in western Europe, a 17th century book showing a highway network in England and Wales of just 73 roads, is to be sold at an auction for up to £9,000.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the route atlas, published in 1675, includes 100 double pages of black and white maps laid out in continuous strips depicting the major roads and crossroads across England and Wales.

The work, by John Ogilby - Britannia Volume the First, or an Illustration of the Kingdom of England and Dominion of Wales - also marks the first time in England that an atlas was prepared on a uniform scale, at one inch to a mile. he 17th century map-maker claimed 26,600 miles of road was surveyed in the course of preparing the national road atlas, the first of its kind in any country in western Europe.

“What’s unusual about this book is that it is complete,” said Charles Ashton, an auctioneer at Cheffins Fine Art in Cambridge, where the atlas is expected to fetch up to £9,000 at an auction on October 29.

“A lot were published but over time many have been taken apart for their break-up value - in other words, the money that can be made by selling pages separately to be framed. It is very unusual for a first edition to have survived all these years in one piece,” he said.

“This is one of the original printing batch from 1675 and there are probably about 100 out there across the world - mostly in university and library collections,” he added.

According to Ashton, “From the outside it looks like nothing - the plain board cover is quite beaten up and unornamented, not elaborate at all. Looking at it from the outside, you would never guess how special this book is, but once you open it its full glory is revealed.”

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Drink-drive chair up for auction

Police in the US state of Minnesota are planning to auction off a specially modified and motorised lounge chair whose owner crashed it while drunk.

Dennis LeRoy Anderson, 62, pleaded guilty last Monday to driving the La-Z-Boy while drunk in August last year.

The chair was impounded after he smashed into a parked car as he returned from a bar in Proctor.

The chair comes with a stereo, nitrous oxide booster, parachute and a "hell yeah it's fast" sticker.

Local police chief Walter Wobig told Agence France-Presse news agency the chair would be posted on eBay next week with no reserve price.

Minnesota police can auction off vehicles seized in drink-drive cases or keep them for official use.

The blue and black chair's other attractions include headlights and a steering wheel in the style of a drag-racer. It can reach up to 20mph (32km/h) with its lawnmower-powered engine.

Mr Anderson, who was not badly injured in the accident, was found to have three times the legal limit when arrested. He said he had drunk eight or nine beers.
Mr Anderson was sentenced to 180 days in jail, suspended pending two years of probation.

The Proctor Journal said the police department had received a number of calls and emails about the chair since the court case.

It quoted one interested party of "racers" as saying they lived outside Minnesota and the chair would "no longer be a menace to your town".

Saturday, 24 October 2009

World’s most expensive coin fetches $1.2 million at Barcelona auction

The most expensive coin in the world was recently auctioned by auctioneers Aureo & Calicó in Barcelona.

The coin, the only remaining 1609 centen coin is the biggest solid gold coin to be minted in Spain!

This rare coin generated a lot of interest among bidders and fetched a winning bid of 800,000 Euros ($1,202,566)! The lucky bidder, identified only as bidder no. 74, a dealer from central Europe, could not hide his surprise when no-one else raised his opening bid of 800,000 Euros for the coin minted in Segovia.

This rare coin was the most priceless piece in the “Knight of the Yndias" collection (which comprises 2,200 pieces of gold from Spain and her former colonies) that was on auction.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Trafalgar flag fetches $680k at auction

A BRITISH flag believed to be the only surviving Union Jack from the Battle of Trafalgar has sold for a staggering £384,000 ($680,368) at auction in London.
The standard, put up for sale by its Australian-based owner, was expected to fetch in the region of £15,000 ($26,576) at the auction, which coincides with Trafalgar Day, the anniversary of the battle 204 years ago.
Auctioneer Charles Miller of Charles Miller Ltd said he was delighted with the price the flag achieved.
"I am absolutely lost for words, but what a victory," he said. "This demonstrates that this is a unique and charismatic artefact linked to both Nelson's greatest triumph and the greatest naval battle of all time - the Battle of Trafalgar, which took place exactly 204 years today."
Mr Miller had described the flag, marked by shot and still bearing a faint scent of gunpowder, as extremely evocative.
"Any artefact from Trafalgar is significant, but the national emblem, battle-scarred to boot, is going to be in the next league," he said.
On October 21, 1805, 27 British ships under Admiral Lord Nelson's command squared up to 33 French and Spanish vessels west of Cape Trafalgar, on the southwest coast of Spain. Nelson's forces sank 22 enemy ships without losing one of his own.
The victory confirmed Britain's naval supremacy and ended Napoleon Bonaparte's hopes of invading the British isles.
The flag flew above HMS Spartiate in the sea battle. Its 540 crew had stitched it together from 31 panels. After the conflict, they presented it to their Lieutenant, James Clephan, in recognition of his bravery.
The flag was put up for sale by one of his descendants, who lives in Australia.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Magazine signed by John Lennon sells for $12,713

A 1966 magazine signed by John Lennon containing his remark that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus has sold for $12,713.

An surgeon at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Centre had the winning bid Thursday in a 17-day online auction run by RR Auction of Amherst, N.H.

Lennon signed "John C. Lennon" above his photo in the September 1966 "Datebook," even though his middle initial is W. for Winston.

In the magazine, Lennon said: "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now. I don't know which will go first — rock 'n' roll or Christianity."

His comment provoked much anti-Beatle sentiment in the United States, where some people burned their Beatle records.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Japanese PM’s 80s pop tune hot on net auction

A single released by Japan’s future prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, two decades ago has sparked a bidding war amongst fans at an auction site.

His pop ballad single, entitled “Take Heart - Fly, Dove of Peace,” was said to have fetched around 35,000 yen (230 pounds).

Teruaki Asanuma, the producer of the 1988 record, expressed his surprise when the bidding started at 1,000 yen.

“I never imagined that there would be a day when this tune would come into the spotlight,” The Telegraph quoted Asanuma as telling Japanese tabloid Kyodo News.

Dentist Asanuma also revealed that Hatoyama, who will be sworn in as prime minister on September 16, initially wanted to sing a traditional Japanese tune but he suggested a lighter pop style, in keeping with Hatoyama’s “urban flair”. (ANI)

Friday, 28 August 2009

Street bought for 1,000 euros in auction cock-up.

A Lebanese translator from Berlin now owns a street in the Brandenburg town of Havelsee for the low price of €1,000 after officials botched an auction.

The development has made residents of the street anxious because they don’t know what his plans are, daily Berliner Morgenpost reported on Wednesday.

Wassim Saab, who owns a translation business in Berlin’s Wilmersdorf district, discovered online that the town planned to auction off the street for the symbolic sum of €1 after the original developer went bankrupt.

“We didn’t anticipate a fellow bidder,” building authority head Christiane Neumeister told the paper about the auction two weeks ago. “There we made a mistake.”

Inside the auction hall were only Saab, Neumeister and the head of the nearby community of Beetzsee’s building authority – who was supposed to buy the 5,200-square-metre street for €1 and take control of the road.

But minutes later she watched helplessly as the street – including street lamps and water pipes – was awarded to Saab. According to the paper, she brought just the symbolic €1 to the auction and it did not occur to her to increase her bid, though Havelsee’s Mayor Günter Noack told the paper she was authorised to do so.

“I still need to think about whether I will sell the street or charge fees for the irrigation and drainage,” Saab told the paper, adding that he will not “unduly stress” the some 100 residents nearby.

The housing development street is in the Briest district of Havelsee and was built in the 1990s by investor Ulrich Pietrucha, who had long been offering it to the city for €1. A corresponding contract was already at the building authority, but no one had addressed it due to reported damage to the street and the €100 to €200 notary fee it would have required to process.

“But the women thought they were clever and thought they’d get the street for one euro,” investor Pietrucha said.

Their thrift could end up costing the town of Havelsee dearly. Residents could now sue for government liability of the new owner charges them extra fees.

Pietrucha told the paper the city must buy the street back from Saab – but experts estimate the true worth could be up to €500,000.
The Local (

Thursday, 27 August 2009

World's Largest Rubber Band Ball For Auction

From the Auction:

My name is Joel Waul creator of Megaton The World’s Largest Rubber Band Ball.

Megaton is 6ft 7′ high, 9,032 LBS, & 25ft Circumference.

The old record was 5ft 5′ high, 4,594 LBS, & 19ft Circumference.

I started it on April 10, 2004 after seeing Tony Evans drop his ball from a plane on Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

4 yrs 7 months later it’s the world’s largest. Verified by Guinness World Records on November 13, 2008.

Guinness World Records has it as #9 of the 10 best world records of 2008.

Megaton’s first 3,200 lbs are store bought rubber bands these rubber bands cost $3.49-$5.99 per lb.

The other 5,832 pound are made up of 40′- 45′ custom made rubber bands that can stretch around your car. Some of these custom bands cost up to $32 per lb.

Auction Link: Megaton Giant Rubber Band

Monday, 24 August 2009

Bonhams to auction of the largest known Tyrannosaurus rex specimens ever discovered.

LAS VEGAS, NV.- One of the largest known Tyrannosaurus rex specimens ever discovered will be offered by international auctioneers Bonhams & Butterfields on Saturday, October 3, 2009 during the company’s first Natural History auction to be held at The Venetian ® in Las Vegas. The auction will contain approximately 50 lots of fossils with the centerpiece of the sale focusing on the expertly mounted female T. rex, expected to bring millions of dollars. The rare 66-million year old Tyrannosaurus skeleton – dubbed “Samson” – is arguably one of the three most complete specimens to have been discovered. Native to North America, Tyrannosaurus rex is recognized as the ‘Tyrant Lizard King’ and is the most famous of the behemoths of the “Age of Dinosaurs.” This rare example from the Cretaceous period was excavated near Buffalo, South Dakota over 15 years ago.

Originally prepared by scientists and technicians at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, “Samson’s” skull is considered to be one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus skulls in existence. The entire specimen contains approximately 170 bones, more than 50% of the total bone count of an entire skeleton. In life, “Samson” was equal in weight to “Sue,” the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton which sold for $8.3-million in 1997.

Of further interest are pathologies (evidence of healed injury or disease) of the skull and portions of the skeleton that open a window into the life of this virtual beast. The skeleton is beautifully prepared and mounted utilizing the most modern methods, which allows for new discoveries and enhanced aesthetic qualities.

According to Peter Larson, Tyrannosaur Paleontologist: “Although research on this particular Tyrannosaurus is still incomplete, it is believed by experts to be one of four possible examples of a yet unnamed species of Tyrannosaurus. I look forward to seeing the entire assembled and fully prepared skeleton in Las Vegas.”

This animal was most likely a very skilled hunter with binocular color vision and an extremely sensitive sense of smell. In life, “Samson” measured approx 40-feet in length and could have looked into a second story window. Its massive skull and powerful serrated teeth could have bitten through the leg bone of any contemporary dinosaur. During the Cretaceous Period, Tyrannosaurs occupied a position at the apex of the food chain giving this creature lasting celebrity.

“Bonhams & Butterfields’ fall auction celebrates the art of natural wonders and the continued excitement associated with a possible new discovery,” said Thomas Lindgren, Co-Director of Natural History at Bonhams & Butterfields.

In addition to “Samson,” the October 3rd sale will also feature approximately 50 lots of high quality and distinctive dinosaur specimens and exceptional fossils. Other highlights will include a fully mounted, 28-foot-long “duckbilled” dinosaur skeleton and a 7-foot-long fossil shark from the Permian Period, which was discovered in Germany.

The illustrated catalogue will be available online for review at in the weeks preceding the auction. The specimen will be exhibited and sold in the space formerly occupied by The Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, designed by renowned architect Rem Koolhaas.

Public Auction: October 3, 2009, The Venetian, Las Vegas / Public Preview: September 18-October 3, 2009, The Venetian, Las Vegas

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Winston Churchill’s sofa sells for £7,500 at auction

A sofa that had once belonged to Britain’s war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill has fetched 7,500 pounds at auction, despite being valued at just 80 pounds.

Originally destined for a skip, the battered and ripped Chesterfield was saved when the brother of the late owner mentioned the connection.

The settee was found in the shed of a tumbledown Northamptonshire vicarage by auctioneers, after they had been asked to undertake a probate valuation when its owner died.

Jonathan Humbert, of JP Humbert Auctioneers, revealed that the sofa would have to be disposed of as it was no longer usable.

However, said the auctioneer, the plan was reconsidered after the owner’s brother remarked that it was a shame because it had once belonged to Churchill.

“We were going to throw it away but when the chap mentioned its Churchill link, we thought we’d run it for a bit of a laugh,” the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

“On the one hand it’s clapped out, but on the other hand it’s got this illustrious heritage. Who knows what famous rears sat on it,” he added.

According to the brother, the late-19th-century leather settee had graced Churchill’s private Whitehall office during his second premiership from 1951 to 1955, before he gave it to a friend from Northamptonshire.

It was the same friend that had passed it on to its last owner, who then stored it in his shed when it became too old to use.

Humbert said that he spelt out to interested buyers that there was no written proof of the sofa’s provenance, just a spoken record, but that did little to dent their interest.

“It shows the high regard with which Churchill is still held throughout the world.

And so much for the global credit crunch. Everything is worth what someone is prepared to pay for it,” he said. (ANI)

Dillinger pistol sold at U.S. auction for $95,600

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A small pistol belonging to 1930s gangster John Dillinger has been sold at auction to a private collector for $95,600 -- more than double the pre-sale estimate, the auction house said on Sunday.

The Remington .41 caliber Double Derringer was said to have been found hidden in one of Dillinger's socks when he was arrested in Tucson, Arizona in January 1934, said Dennis Lowe of Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas.

According to affidavits, the pistol was given by the then Tucson sheriff to a probation officer and kept in the family until selling it in 1959.

The owner, who wished to remain anonymous, sold it because he was in declining health, Lowe said. It had been expected to fetch about $35,000 - $45,000 at the auction on Saturday in Dallas. A private Los Angeles collector made the winning bid of $95,600.

Dillinger, one of the most infamous bank robbers in the United States in the early 1930s, was shot dead by FBI agents in Chicago in July 1934 at the age of 31.

His exploits have inspired at least five movies or TV films including the most recent release "Public Enemies" in which Dillinger is portrayed by actor Johnny Depp.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Steering wheel from Hughes' plane to be auctioned

On July 7, 1946, his clothes ablaze, Howard Hughes was pulled from the fiery wreckage of his experimental aircraft by a Marine sergeant. In gratitude, the eccentric billionaire gave his rescuer the steering wheel from the downed plane.
The aircraft control yoke, sheared off at the base, is one of eight items from the estate of Sgt. William L. Durkin going on the auction block. They will be sold as one lot at Swann Auction Galleries on Sept. 17 for an estimated $40,000 to $60,000.
The crash, in the backyard of a Beverly Hills mansion, was the centerpiece of Martin Scorsese's acclaimed 2004 film "The Aviator," which starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Hughes.

Hughes was burned on 78 percent of his body. Ever indebted to Durkin for saving his life, he also arranged a lifetime pass for the Marine to Hollywood's Players nightclub and sent a letter promising a "small check" of $200.

These are also part of the sale. Durkin's descendants have decided to sell the items because "They thought it was time for the material to move on and get out into the world," said Swann's Americana expert Rick Stattler.

Hughes died in 1976.

"My company, which feels duly grateful to you, is sending a small check," Hughes said in the letter addressed to Durkin and typed on Hughes Aircraft Company letterhead. "Another will follow each month until you return here for the discussion I have suggested"—a reference to possible work for Durkin in aviation or other enterprises in which Hughes was involved.

Stattler said the appeal of the auction was that the crash was a dramatic moment in history that involved not only a major accident over one of the wealthiest communities in California—in itself a major news story—but also "one of the country's most famous entrepreneurs."

He likened it to a plane crash today involving the likes of Donald Trump or Bill Gates.

Stattler said the aviator and film director "clutched (the yoke) as he skimmed along those houses, and then crashed in someone's backyard."

The sale's additional appeal is that it involves "the other key figure in the crash ... the Marine who saved Hughes' life," Stattler said.

He said the letter of thanks from Hughes is signed. However, Swann was still researching whether the signature is Hughes'.

"His signatures are very difficult to authenticate," he said. "Later in life, many of the signatures that appear from Hughes do not match with each other." He said Hughes sometimes had aides sign for him.

The letter's original mailing envelope is stamped Culver City, CA, Dec. 23, 1946.
Also included in the sale is Durkin's detailed account of the crash and rescue, which he typed up as an official statement to crash investigators.

"I heard a sound inside the cockpit like someone knocking or pounding ... At the same time I heard a scream of agony, and I knew a man was burning to death," Durkin wrote.

Hughes developed the prototype military reconnaissance plane for the U.S. Army Air Force. He was taking it on a test flight when it crashed and struck three homes.
Durkin, who was visiting friends near the site of the crash, pulled Hughes to safety shortly before the plane's fuel tank exploded.

When Durkin died in 2006, his daughter said her father never accepted any big payoff from Hughes because he felt he was only doing what was right.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Auction Offers the Moon--Or at Least NASA Gear That's Been There

Stargazers will have the opportunity to get their hands on photos, charts, models and other space race relics from NASA missions thanks to an auction to commemorate the Apollo 11 moon mission

From Scientific American

As the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing approaches (on July 20), artifacts spanning a range of NASA's manned space exploration program—from Mercury and Gemini to Apollo and beyond—are being made available to the public as expensive keepsakes. On July 16, Bonhams & Butterfields New York will auction off about 400 lots that include astronaut apparel and equipment, components taken from Apollo lunar and command modules, and photos and charts chronicling the space program's early days.

The items are expected to fetch anywhere from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the higher prices going to equipment that's actually been in space (even as far as the lunar surface). For example, Bonhams anticipates an attitude controller assembly from the Apollo 15 lunar lander Falcon, a joystick of sorts that used by the astronauts to maneuver the craft, could command as much as $300,000. A checklist worn by an Apollo 16 astronaut that was attached to the cuff of his spacesuit to help him remember the variety of assigned tasks while exploring the lunar surface could likewise sell for $300,000.

Many of the items have been autographed by the astronauts themselves and come from their personal collections.

Monday, 13 July 2009

At Swoopo, Shopping's Steep Spiral Into Addiction

Shopping site Swoopo combines the addictiveness of auctions and the chance element of lotteries to entertain its users -- and reap a profit pennies at a time.

By Mark Gimein, The Washington Post.

Imagine for a second that you've set out to come up with an online shopping site that would take advantage of everything we know about consumer behavior.

Your goal is to separate people from their money as efficiently as possible. What would you do? You'd probably try to draw buyers in with bargain prices. You'd pit them against one another in an auction. You'd ask them to make snap decisions without taking much time to figure out just how much money they're spending. On top of that, you'd ask for only very small amounts of money at any one time, letting payments of a few cents build to hundreds of dollars.

But relax. Someone's beaten you to it: the folks at It's an online auction site that fiendishly plays on every irrational impulse buyers have to draw them in to what might be the crack cocaine of online shopping sites.

I discovered Swoopo through an online ad plugging its latest deal, a fancy desktop computer at more than 90 percent off. If you are already saying to yourself that there is a catch, you are right. Swoopo, which bills itself as an "entertainment shopping" site, combines the addictiveness of auctions and the chance of lotteries into what may be the most devious way to separate folks from their money yet devised.

At first glance, -- which began in Germany as a phone and TV-based auction site called Telebid, migrated to the web as "Swoopo," and launched its U.S. site last year -- looks like an auction site patterned on eBay, with prices for most items starting at a penny and rising as members "bid" up the price. Like eBay, Swoopo has a full panoply of auction tools, such as comprehensive records of all completed auctions and an electronic bidding system ("Bid Butler") that will put in last-second bids to keep you in the auction. Unlike eBay, however, on Swoopo you pay 60 cents each time you make a bid.

Sixty cents? Sure doesn't sound like much when a $1,000-plus camera or computer is at stake. But consider the MacBook Pro that Swoopo sold recently for $35.86. Swoopo lists its suggested retail price at $1,799. But then look at what the bidding fee does. For each "bid," the price of the computer goes up by a penny, and Swoopo collects 60 cents. To get up to $35.86, it takes a stunning 3,585 bids -- and Swoopo gets its fee for each. That means that before selling this computer, Swoopo took in $2,151 in bidding fees. Yikes.

In essence, what your 60-cent bidding fee gets you at Swoopo is a ticket to a
lottery, with a chance to get a high-end item at a ridiculously low price. With each bid, the auction is extended for a few seconds to keep it going as long as someone in the world is willing to take just one more shot. This can go on for a very, very long time. The winner of the MacBook Pro auction bid more than 750 times, accumulating $469.80 in fees.

What makes Swoopo so fiendishly compelling is the tendency of people to think of the bids that they have already put in as a "sunk cost" -- money that they have already put toward buying the item. This is an illusion. The fact that you have already bid 200 times does not mean that your chance of winning on the 201st bid is any higher than it was at the very beginning. A new bidder can come in at any time and at the cost of a mere 60 cents jump into the auction in which you've already spent more than $100. The money you've put in has gotten you no closer to the goal than a losing raffle ticket.

Some of the ideas behind Swoopo have been explored in a theoretical way by game theorists. The reluctance of bidders to say goodbye to their "sunk cost" has been explored by economists such as Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky -- and has been found to draw bidders deeper into the game. Swoopo plays off those insights to efficiently get people to make bad choices. It's the evil stepchild of game theory and behavioral economics.

Another irrational impulse Swoopo plays off of is an urge to believe that there must be some strategy that beats the system. As Swoopo's own business development director, Chris Bauman, told one blogger: "Winning takes two things: money and patience. Every person has a strategy." Indeed, they undoubtedly do. The problem is that none of those strategies will actually work. Just remember that no matter how many times you bid, your chance of winning does not increase. And the bigger Swoopo gets, the worse it will be. The more people sign on to bid, the lower your chances become -- and the more Swoopo collects in bidding charges. The only winning strategy is not to play in the first place.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Auctioneering can be a tough business

Auctioneering can indeed be a tough business, see the story below of what happened to an Oregon auctioneer. I liked the bit "The auction continued with another man working as the auctioneer while the victim was taken to a hospital and deputies searched for the attacker" - true professionals, 'the show must go on!'

Auctioneer's Throat Slashed During Auction
Deputies Seeking Man In Woodburn Attack

WOODBURN, Ore. -- An auctioneer had his throat slashed at a Woodburn auction yard on Tuesday, sheriff's deputies said.

Witnesses said a man got into an argument with the auctioneer during an auction just before noon and cut his neck with a box cutter.

One witness, Pete Hoogenbasch, said the guy seemed to think the auctioneer, whose name is Chuck, was ignoring him, so suddenly he attacked Chuck.

"He flipped out over something real simple, nothing major. And then the guy came up and he was cussing at him like a trooper. Then Chuck made a crack about that and the guy came up on the cart and cut him," Hoogenbasch said.

Marion County sheriff's spokeswoman Lt. Sheila Lorance said the auctioneer was taken to a hospital but his condition is unknown at this time.

Several people started chasing him and yelling at others to catch him and that's when Michael Melbye stepped in.

"I tried to grab him over there because I thought he stole something," Melbye said.

He said he didn't see the attack but noticed the man frantically trying to get away. He said the guy tried to hitch a ride with a passing driver, but Melbye got a hold of him.

"He backed up and he says, 'Get away from me or I'm going to cut you.' And he opened up his box knife and I said, 'Man, that's not going to do you any good. What the heck, you know? Why you want to get in trouble over something you stole?' Well, I didn't know he cut Chuck," Melbye said.

The man who slashed the auctioneer's throat jumped over a fence on the north side of the auction yard and ran toward a nearby mobile home park, Lorance said.

The auction continued with another man working as the auctioneer while the victim was taken to a hospital and deputies searched for the attacker.

Deputies said they found and arrested Jeremiah D. Thomasson, 22, at about 3 p.m. on charges of first-degree assault, attempted murder and unlawful use of a weapon. They said they found Thomasson about a mile away in the mobile home park.

According to the auction yard's Web site, it auctions general merchandise, poultry, vehicles and nursery stock every Tuesday. The Woodburn Auction Yard is located on S Pacific Highway.

Auction regulars said they want the man who attacked Chuck to be punished for what he did.

"I know there's a lot of Chuck's friends out here who'd like to take him behind the barn and teach him lessons about how to treat people," Hoogenbasch said.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Nelson's hair makes £2,500 at auction.

A lock of Lord Horatio Nelson's hair has been auctioned for £2,500 in Lincolnshire.

The hair, which is encased in a brooch, is thought to have been cut from Lord Nelson's head after his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

It was sold to a private buyer at the auction held at Brown & Co in Brigg on Saturday.

The lock previously belonged to a woman from Worksop in Nottinghamshire whose family had links to the famous admiral.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Billionaire Buffett auctions off another lunch

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Last year's winning bid for lunch with legendary investor Warren Buffett topped $2.1 million, but given the economic turmoil, it's questionable this year's bidding will approach that level.

Yet Buffett has built a devoted following, as demonstrated by the crowd of 35,000 people at his recent Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting, and he offers only one lunch per year.

The online bidding begins at $25,000 Sunday in a charity auction that benefits the Glide Foundation, which provides social services to the poor and homeless in San Francisco. The bids will likely escalate significantly before the auction closes Friday evening at 10 p.m. EDT.

Glide's founder, Rev. Cecil Williams, said last year's big bid arrived just in time because demand for Glide's programs jumped roughly 20 percent in the past year with the recession. Glide relies on donations for most of its $17 million budget, so Williams is hoping for another big bid.

"We depend greatly on these people and their bidding," Williams said.
Buffett's late first wife, Susan, introduced the billionaire investor to Williams and the Glide Foundation. Buffett says he enjoys being able to help Glide with the lunch.

Buffett, who is Berkshire's chairman and chief executive, is primarily known for his investing success. Berkshire owns more than 60 subsidiaries including insurance, furniture, clothing, jewelry and candy companies, restaurants, natural gas and corporate jet firms and has major investments in such companies such as Coca-Cola Co. and Wells Fargo & Co.

But Buffett is also known for his philanthropy.
In 2006, he announced his long-term plan to give away the bulk of his roughly $36 billion fortune. Most of his shares of Berkshire stock will go to five charitable foundations, with the largest chunk going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The auction's winner and up to seven friends will lunch with Berkshire's chairman and chief executive. The owners of the Smith and Wollensky restaurant in New York contributed $10,000 to Glide and will again host the lunch.

Last year's winner, Zhao Danyang of the Hong Kong-based Pureheart China Growth Investment Fund, is scheduled to collect his prize by dining with Buffett on Wednesday.

"I am looking forward to enjoying lunch with Warren Buffett," Zhao said. "This is truly the chance of a lifetime."

Last year's winning bid on lunch with Buffett was the most expensive charity item eBay had ever sold.

Previously, the most expensive charity item ever sold on eBay was a letter from Democratic senators blasting conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh for using the phrase "phony soldiers" on his program. The letter signed by 41 senators sold for $2.1 million on eBay in October 2008.

The proceeds from Limbaugh's auction went to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, which provides scholarships to children of Marines or federal law enforcement personnel who were killed while serving their country. And he matched the bid.

Buffett has been auctioning off lunches online for seven years but began auctioning the lunches for Glide off-line in 2000.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Lack of posts.

Readers will note the lack of posts over the last few months. That was because, as Coordinator of the London Green Party, I was deeply involved in the Euro election campaign.

We were pleased with the result. We held our seat which had been under attack. It was also pleasing that the fascist BNP fell back, in London, by over 50,000 votes on last year's election.

Nationally, the Green Party vote was up by 44% beating Labour in the South East and South West regions. Our vote in Brighton and Norwich were particularly exciting as it is in those areas that we expect to make breakthroughs in the next General Election.

Now back to auctions......

'Peanuts' strip sells for $17K at auction

LOS ANGELES, June 15 (UPI) -- A 1983 Charles Schulz "Peanuts" comic strip has sold for $17,080 at an entertainment memorabilia auction in Los Angeles, Bonhams & Butterfields said.

The pen and ink illustration, which shows Sally asking Charlie Brown to help her with a report on Charles Dickens, was the top-selling lot at Sunday's auction, the memorabilia dealer said.

The comic strip had been expected to bring between $10,000 and 15,000.

The sale also featured rare photos of Marilyn Monroe, in addition to a contract she signed; the handbag Estelle Getty carried as her character Sophia on "The Golden Girls," as well as the Emmy and Golden Globe awards she won for the role; and costumes from the private collection of actress Debbie Reynolds. Original works from The Peter Golding Collection of Rock 'n' Roll Art were also sold at the auction.
"It was a fun summer sale that showed the strength and continuing interest in animation, Hollywood and music memorabilia. We saw strong participation from around the globe," Margaret Barrett, department head of entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams & Butterfields, said in a statement.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Elderly left at risk by NHS bidding wars to find cheapest care with reverse auctions

Top story in Community Care mag's online round-up of today's newspapers:

Elderly left at risk by NHS bidding wars to find cheapest care with reverse auctions

An online auction system developed for councils to buy cheap wheelie bins and stationery is being used to buy end-of-life and dementia care for vulnerable elderly people.

The NHS in London has held a series of 30 “reverse e-auctions”, where bids are driven down instead of up, for £195 million worth of contracts for palliative and dementia care for patients leaving hospital.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Torture devices from 16th century for auction


NEW YORK (AP) — For sale soon: a variety of torture devices from the 16th century, including shame masks to enforce silence, a 14-foot table-like rack to stretch the victim's body, and a tongue tearer to punish blasphemers and heretics. Even an executioner's sword.

New York's Guernsey's auction house plans to auction the privately owned collection, with proceeds to go to Amnesty International and other organizations committed to preventing torture in today's world, said Guernsey's president, Arlan Ettinger. "That is clearly the seller's intent," he said.

Ettinger described the items Wednesday as possibly the world's most extensive collection of historical torture devices — some 252 items — plus rare books, documents and other related artifacts.

He declined to identify the owner, beyond saying it is a family living in the northeastern U.S., within three hours of New York. No date has been set for the auction.

Of German origin and acquired in the late 19th century by England's earl of Shrewsbury, the torture collection has been in private American hands since last publicly shown in 1893 in New York and at the Chicago World's Fair. Its owner for many years after that was Arne Coward, a Norwegian-born survivor of the Holocaust. His descendants are the present owners, Ettinger said.

On Nov. 26, 1893, an article in The New York Times described what was then a 1,300-item collection, noting that "thousands of people have gazed upon these terrible relics of a semi-barbarous age," all of which "have been in actual use."

As if to underscore the relevance of the exhibit to modern times, Ettinger said, the lead story on the front page of Wednesday's New York Times was headlined: "Torture Memos: Inquiry Suggests No Prosecutions."

The 252 devices include iron masks, boots, thumbscrews, foot squeezers, ropes, leg irons, chains, rings, manacles and "witch-catchers."

Notably absent is what the Times in 1893 called the "justly-celebrated iron maiden," a coffin-like case with deadly spikes on the inside. Ettinger said the fate of the iron maiden and other items is unknown, but they may have been lost in a fire that destroyed many buildings at the end of the Chicago world's fair.

The diabolical devices are a unique, but not unlikely, offering by the Manhattan-based auctioneer, noted for its sales of the offbeat.

Guernsey's auctioned off Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball in 1998 for a record $3 million, and it plans what Ettinger says will be the world's first "tennis auction" at this year's U.S. Open in New York, selling an array of sport-related items from antique rackets to trophies and historic contracts. "So it's not all painful," he said.

Ettinger said there was no way to tell what the torture collection is worth or how much it may fetch at auction. In the 1970s, he said, an obscure magazine "read only by historians" estimated its value at $3 million — about the same as Mark McGwire's home run ball.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Charity Auction.

Did a charity auction last night in Finsbury Town Hall.
Here are some of the results:

60 new classical & jazz CD's - £170.

Admission for two to a chocolate making workshop - £110.

Bottle of 2006 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume Silex - £140.

Two tickets for the Roundhouse theatre - £90.

Design Museum Patron membership - £120.

Tea for two at the House of Commons with Jeremy Corbyn - £140.

Two tickets to Sadler's Wells - £130.

Salsa Rapido course - £80.

A week's stay in a cottage in Wales £460.

This came this morning:

Dear Noel,

It was a pleasure to meet you last night. I want to say an enormous thank you for running the auction at our Supporters' Party. You were absolutely fantastic and it is thanks to your generosity and support that the auction was a great success. We are really pleased with the amount raised at auction and are still waiting to find out the total sum raised on the night.

Many thanks, and the best of luck for election preparations,

The Medical Foundation for Torture Care.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Gallantry medal given to dog in Second World War sells for £24,000

The mongrel, called Rip, was awarded a Dickin Medal in 1945 after sniffing out dozens of air raid victims during the blitz.

The founder of veterinary charity PDSA, Maria Dickin, began awarding the medals in 1943 to recognise animals which showed "conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty".

The Dickin Medal became known as the animal version of the Victoria Cross. Since its introduction 62 have been awarded to dogs, pigeons, horses and a cat.

Rip was found homeless and starving after an air raid in 1940.

An air raid warden working at Southill Street Air Raid Patrol in Poplar, east London, adopted the dog and Rip began sniffing out people trapped in the rubble.

The warden found the dog, which had no official training, was always on duty, never got in the way and was quick to locate casualties.

During the Blitz he helped to find and rescue more than 100 air raid victims.

It was partly due to Rip's success that towards the end of the war the authorities decided to train dogs officially to trace casualties.

Rip wore the Dickin Medal on his collar for the rest of his life.

He died in 1948 and was the first of 12 "supreme animal heroes" to be buried in the PDSA cemetery in Ilford, Essex.

His headstone reads: "Rip, D.M., 'We also serve', for the dog whose body lies here played his part in the Battle of Britain."

The winning bidder at the Spink auction in central London wanted to remain anonymous.

Realtor offers free divorce with home

HUELVA, Spain - A Spanish real estate company is offering a free divorce lawyer as an incentive to couples who purchase three-bedroom homes in Huelva province. Officials with Geimsa realtors said the deal is aimed at couples who have been postponing divorce because they can't afford new homes, Britain's The Daily Telegraph reported. "A divorce is very expensive," said Vanesa Contioso of Geimsa. "So we are offering new clients the free use of our lawyers to handle the process." The deal applies to married couples who purchase three-bedroom homes for at least $89,000 in Huelva province.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Hitler paintings sold for £95,589

LONDON (AFP) — A series of watercolours by Adolf Hitler were sold at a British auction house on Thursday for over 100,000 euros.

The 13 paintings, most of them landscapes and found in a garage earlier this year by the seller, went for 95,589 pounds at auctioneers Mullock's.

An apparent self-portrait showing a man with a side-parting sitting on a stone bridge, and signed with the initials A.H., sold for 10,000 pounds at the auction at Ludlow.

Richard Westwood-Brookes of the auctioneers -- who had earlier said the pictures "are hardly Picasso" -- said the final price, which included buyer's premium, was a surprise.

"I am very pleased. I thought they would go for between five and six thousand," he said.

The paintings date back to between 1908 and about 1914, when the former German leader was a young man trying to earn a living as an artist in Vienna.

"Unfortunately for the world, he was not accepted into the Vienna Academy, which was where he wanted to be," Westwood-Brookes said.

"Of course, if he had been accepted, then we would have known him today as an artist and not as an evil tyrant."

Westwood-Brookes said the seller bought them from someone who found them in 1945.

Many of the works are signed with the initials "A.H." The sale also included a collection of official Nazi magazines for schoolboys and women, featuring knitting patterns and recipes.

In 2006, 21 of Hitler's works were sold in Britain for 118,000 pounds.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Mafeking siege notes in mint condition sold in Bury St Edmunds

I find this article interesting as we have two copies of The Mafeking Gazette for sale in The Green Room. These single page newspapers ("Issued daily, shells permitting") were issued during the siege and must be quite rare. We have priced them at £50 each which must be a bargain

From the Antiques Trade Gazette:

Today Robert Baden-Powell is best known as the founder of the Boy Scout movement in 1908, but in the Edwardian era his name was synonymous with the Boer War, and specifically the 217 wretched days from October 1899 to May 1900.

The resistance of the town of Mafeking, an overnight stop on the vital rail link between the Cape Colony and mineral-rich Bechuanaland, has gone into legend as a great game of bluff, with the burying of fake landmines, erecting of non-existent barbed wire fences and moving of the small number of cannon around each night.

But equally important for the Commander of the Rhodesian forces was the continuation of daily life for the white English community of 1200 men, women and children as well as the 1250 armed men at his disposal. Under Baden-Powell’s command, the besieged population of Mafeking published a morale-boosting newspaper, made stamps for the town mail and – as normal commerce broke down – issued their own banknotes.

Siege notes are among the most tangible survivors of the Mafeking ordeal.

They were printed on ordinary writing paper in five denominations of one, two, three and ten shillings and one pound from January to March 1900 in an underground shelter. The town auctioneer Edward Ross, who penned one of the many accounts of the siege, aided in the process. He noted: “I had a little signboard made, Mafeking Mint. No Admission.”

Lacy Scott & Knight offered a dozen numbered Mafeking Siege notes in near-mint condition for sale in Bury St Edmunds on December 13. The vendor had acquired them in a house clearance in Bury in the 1970s.

The simple one-, two- and three-shilling notes took the form of vouchers to be used in the canteens for a daily ration of hard-baked oat bread and horse meat. These lower-value notes carry a facsimile signature for the Army Paymaster, Captain H. Greener.

For obvious reasons these notes are the most commonly encountered, although the three-shilling note survives in lesser numbers. While a one-shilling note dated February 1900, No.B6382 provided the lowest bid at £260, a three-shilling banknote, dated January 1900 and numbered A3628, commanded £1000.

In his memoirs, Baden-Powell recalled his personal input in the design of the ten-shilling and one-pound siege notes:
“The design for the one-pound note I drew on a boxwood block, made from a croquet mallet cut in half, and this I handed to a Mr Riesle, who had done wood engraving. But the result [two rudimentary images of soldiers with cannon] was not satisfactory from the artistic point of view, so we used that as a ten-shilling note and I drew another design which was photographed for the pound note.”

Several examples of both higher denomination notes were seen at LS&K. Early issues of the ten-shilling note include a typographical error: Issued by authority of Col R.S.S. Baden-Powell, Comman[d]ing Frontier Forces.

Examples sold here for up to £750 each: a later issue, No.6354, with the error corrected, sold at £350.

The blue one-pound siege note, complete with Baden-Powell’s competent sketch of Rhodesian troops under the Union flag, was signed in ink by Robert Bradshaw Clarke Urry, the manager of the Mafeking branch of the Standard Bank of South Africa, and by Paymaster Greener who gave each issue of notes authority by depositing a cheque of an equivalent amount into the Standard Bank. The examples here, all in superb condition, sold for up to £1600.

In total, more than £5228 in notes and coupons was issued during the siege. However, little more than £638 worth of coupons were ever redeemed. The rest were kept as souvenirs or lost, and redemption of the notes ceased in September 1908.

Mr Ross was a prophetic fellow. “This note business is going to be a good thing for the Government as I am sure they will be worth much more than face value as curios after the siege, and people are collecting as many as they can get hold of now, to make money afterwards,” he wrote at the time.

The degree of his prescience can be judged from the fact that the face value of the 16 notes sold last month was £6 14s. The total for the 16 lots was £12,500, some 1865 times the original sum.

By Roland Arkell

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Hitler’s first self-portrait up for auction

A self-portrait of Adolf Hitler is to go under the hammer.

The Nazi leader is hardly recognizable with no moustache in the picture which is thought to be the first he ever painted.

But he identifies himself with the initials AH by his head.

The amateurish painting is among 13 works by the Nazi dictator, created back in 1910 when he was just 21.

The small portrait has no nose or mouth, but the side parting hairstyle is unmistakable.

All the pictures were found in Essen, Germany, in 1945 by Company Sergeant Major Willie J McKenna. He sold them to the current unnamed owner, who kept them hidden for decades.

The pictures are expected to fetch tens of thousands of pounds at Ludlow Racecourse, Shrops, on April 23.

“There’s absolutely nothing in them to suggest the monster he became. But one can see why he didn’t make it as an artist,” The Sun quoted Richard Westwood-Brookes of Mullock’s auctioneers, as saying.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Indian pearl carpet fetches $5.5 mln at Doha auction

NEW DELHI, March 21 (Xinhua) -- An unidentified buyer bought the famous Indian pearl Baroda carpet, which is regarded as an Indian national heritage, for 5.48 million U.S. dollars at Sotheby's auction in Doha, Qatar, this week, the official website of the auction house said Saturday.

Encrusted with 2.2 million Basra pearls, and weighing 30,000 carats, the Baroda pearl carpet was commissioned in 1865 by BarodaKing Khande Rao Gaekwad, as a gift for the Mausoleum of Prophet Mohammed at Medina.

Until 1947, the year of India's independence, Baroda was a city kingdom located in today's western India state of Gujarat.

The silk carpet also has three large diamond-filled rose designs in silvered gold, besides pearls. The carpet has been a part of the king's family collection.

Another piece of Indian collection by London-based Anish Kapoor, a painted stainless steel sculpture, fetched 974,000 U.S. dollars at the auction this week, said the website.

The Baroda pearl carpet already commanded a price of 5 million U.S. dollars before being auctioned.

This comes weeks after some items belonging to India's modern founding father Mahatma Gandhi were auctioned in New York.

In 1943, the then King of Baroda, Sir Pratap Sinh Gaekwad, married a woman known as Sita Devi, who took up her residence in Europe and soon, most of the Baroda treasures were transferred to her mansions in Monte Carlo in Monaco neighboring southern France.

In 1947, Baroda was merged with India. The Indian government deposed Gaekwad and forced him to return to India some of the most precious items, but the pearl carpet continued to be in the possession of Sita Devi.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Super rare Superman comic sells for super auction: $317,200 for Action Comics #1

BY Caitlin Millat
Saturday, March 14th 2009, 5:02 PM

A rare copy of Action Comics #1 has been sold at an Internet auction for $317,200.

Maybe they should call him Man of Gold.

Superman proved to be super-expensive when a rare copy of the first comic book featuring him sold late Friday for $317,200 in an Internet auction.

The drummer for the rock band System of a Down, John Dolmayan of rock band, placed the winning bid for the 1938 edition of Action Comics No. 1, the first comic to feature Clark Kent and his heroic alter ego.

Dolmayan, a collector and a dealer of vintage comic books, reportedly bought the inaugural Superman issue for a client.

Auction site ComicConnect said the book's previous owner purchased it in 1950 at a secondhand store for a measly 35 cents.

"It's the Holy Grail of comic books," expert Stephen Fishler said when the book went up for auction in late February.

Only 100 copies of the comic exist worldwide - and this edition is one of the few that remain untouched, in mint condition.

The $317,200 bid is among the highest any comic book has ever gotten at auction

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Rare Roy Rogers guitar for auction.

(Reuters) - A rare guitar owned by singing cowboy and actor Roy Rogers is hitting the auction block next month, the first of its kind ever to be offered at auction, Christie's said on Wednesday.

The C.F. Martin OM-45 Deluxe guitar is one of only 15 made by the Nazareth, Pennsylvania, company founded by a German immigrant in the 1830s.

Only 14 were believed to have been manufactured in 1930 but recent research brought to light a 15th, owned by Rogers since 1933 and the very first one produced.

The auction house expects the OM (Orchestra Model) guitar, last played by Rogers and in its original, unrestored state, to sell for $150,000 to $250,000 when it is offered along with three more of Rogers's guitars on April 3.

The guitars are being sold by The Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri.
"Back in 1933 performing cowboys started going for the hand-tooled boots and handmade shirts, and Roy went out and purchased the flashiest guitar he could find," said Kerry Keane, Christie's musical instruments department head and specialist for the sale.

"That was this guitar," which still bears the green sash cord Rogers attached and a gold star sticker from a flour promotion campaign Rogers did in the mid-1930s. "It has all the sparkle and twang a Hollywood cowboy could ever want."

Rogers, who died in 1998, was a two-time inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame and starred in over 100 films plus a popular television show.

Other highlights of the sale include a Gennaro Gagliano violoncello circa 1765, which is expected to fetch $200,000 to $300,000, and a Gibson Inc. Les Paul solid body electric guitar estimated at $150,000 to $250,000.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

A hush as Lot No. 364 came up for sale

From The Hindu

The price continued to rise until Bedi made the winning bid, and applause broke out

New York: A sudden hush descends on the tiny room in the Antiquorum Auctioneers auction house in Manhattan as soon as Lot No. 364 — Mahatma Gandhi’s five prized personal items — come up for sale.

It was shortly after 3 p.m. on Thursday (0130 IST Friday) and a slide show of Gandhiji was displayed with a recording of piano music and one of the most contentious auctions that set off an international tempest, whose outcome was awaited with bated breath in India, began.

The bidders included a dozen people in the room, 30 people on the phone, and about two dozen people who submitted written bids. For the first time, the auction house required bidders to submit bank references. Before the auction began, 60 bidders had registered, from Australia, Germany, Austria, India, Canada and the U.S., among other countries.

In comparison, there were only six registered bidders in October for a watch belonging to Albert Einstein, which sold for almost $600,000. The auction room at 595 Madison Avenue was thick with finely dressed bidders, a throng of journalists and a lawyer for the owner of Gandhiji’s memorabilia James Otis, who was trying to stop the auction after having second thoughts.

The bidders a mix of Indian-born business executives and die-hard timepiece collectors began filling a fifth-floor room of the auction house, which specialises in watches. In the end, after days of controversy that reverberated in India, the lot sold for $1.8 million to Vijay Mallya, Indian liquor and airline magnate.

The controversy over the auction drew comparisons to an incident at Christies in Paris last month in which a Chinese collector said he was the winning bidder for Qing Dynasty bronze sculptures but refused to pay, saying he was sabotaging the auction because the works had been looted in the 19th century. While the Gandhi items were believed to have been legitimately obtained, both sales pitted auction houses against governments that could ultimately do little more than protest.

The five objects took up half of a glass display case, atop a yellowed copy of the Jan. 30, 1948, issue of an Ohio newspaper, The Piqua Daily Call, with the headline: “Gandhi Shot and Killed Today.”

Himadri Roy, 72, an engineer and real estate investor who had flown in from Montreal, had tears in his eyes as he examined the case and recalled meeting Gandhiji as a 10-year-old in India. For the first time, the auction house required bidders to submit bank references. “We are concerned about what happened at Christies,” Antiquorums chairman Robert Maron was quoted by New York Times as having said. At the point when the bidding reached one million dollars, the contest essentially narrowed to Tony Bedi, representing Mr. Mallya, and Arlan Ettinger, the president of Guernseys auction house, representing former Indian cricketer Dilip Doshi, who was said to be interested in donating the items to the Indian government.

The price continued to rise until Mr. Bedi made the winning bid, and the room burst into applause.

The proceedings were nearly disrupted about 2:30 p.m. when Mr. Otis’ lawyer Ravi Batra entered the auction house to attempt to stop the sale.

Julien Schaerer, an official of the auction house, which would not disclose its commission, said Mr. Otis had entered a legally binding agreement to sell the items.

Employees escorted Mr. Batra from the building. He later said that Mr. Otis did not plan to challenge the sale if Mr. Mallya agreed to turn the items over to the Indian government, although it was not immediately clear whether he would do so.

Mr. Maron said he was delighted that the items would return to India for public viewing. “We had hoped that would be the result,” he said.

Mr. Mallya’s move came as a total surprise as his name was never mentioned among those who might bid for the items. The bid on the floor was made by Mr. Bedi and it was not until the auction was over that the liquor baron’s name surfaced.

One of the bidders was a South African, who was very much interested in the items. None of the bidders was identified. And the bid increased so fast that it was impossible to keep track.

Within three minutes, the bid had reached $1 million. After that it slowed down a bit but picked pace again. Once it reached $1.8 million, the person auctioning the items waited for quite a while before bringing down the hammer.

Originally, Antiquorum Auctioneers had fixed the base price of the items between $20,000 and $30,000 but the media hype and interest shown by the Indian government helped to shoot up the prices. The bid itself began around $300,000.

For hours before the auction started, Indian American leaders had consultations on the strategy at the Indian Consulate here with top Indian diplomats including Consul General Prabhu Dayal.

Talking to reporters, Sant Singh Chatwal, hotelier and community leader who took the lead in the negotiations, said it was decided that Indians would not bid against one another as it would have sent up the price.

It was decided that Mr. Mallya would bid for the items, Mr. Chatwal said, adding he had been in touch with him throughout.

Mr. Chatwal too had shown interest in bidding for the items and repeatedly asserted that Indian Americans would not allow them to be bought by a private collector.

During the auction process, Mr. Chatwal and Mr. Bedi were sitting side by side and were seen consulting often. — PTI

Einstein doctorate up for auction

The doctorate certificate that Albert Einstein obtained from the University of Zurich in 1906 will come up for auction in June, auctioneers Fischer Galerie said on Friday.

An honorary doctorate certificate awarded to the physicist by the University of Geneva in 1909 will also come under the hammer, the Lucerne-based auctioneer said.

Einstein, who revolutionised physics, was awarded the doctorate of philosophy by the University of Zurich's mathematics and natural sciences department after finishing his doctoral thesis titled "A new determination of molecular dimensions" which explains how the size of atoms could be determined.

During the same year, he came up with the formula for which he is best known -- e=mc2.

Three years later, the University of Geneva awarded him a honorary doctorate in physical sciences, noting that he had become "well worthy" of it.

He was in Bern in 1905 when he wrote the articles that formed the basis of his relativity theory of motion,.

Einstein was born in Germany in 1879 and died in the United States in 1955.

The auction would be held June 10 to 12, with a viewing scheduled between May 30 and June 7.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Superman No.1 comic for auction.

After being hidden away for years, a copy of the original "Superman and Friends" comic book will make a comeback -- at a price of about $400,000, a comic expert said Thursday.

Starting Friday, comic book collectors and Superman fans will have the opportunity to bid on a comic classic -- an "unrestored" copy of Action Comics No. 1, said Stephen Fishler, owner of Comic Connect, an online liaison between comic book buyers and sellers. The book's owner is not being identified.
The auction is attracting a lot of interest.
"One bidder wanted to trade his Ferrari for the comic book," as part of an under-the-table deal, Fishler joked. But he said the auction will remain public. "I couldn't see myself trading in my Toyota Prius" -- even for a $375,000 car.
Why is this comic book so unique?
"Of the 100 existing copies, 80 percent have been restored, but people want an untouched copy," Fishler said. The book is listed in "fine" condition, a six on the 10-point rating scale.
"It's the Holy Grail of comic books," Fishler said.
Co-created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the comic book first appeared on newsstands for 10 cents a copy in June 1938.
Nearly 12 years later, a young boy on the West Coast found himself in a secondhand book store, where he persuaded his dad to loan him 35 cents to buy the comic book.
Until 1966, the owner forgot about the book, which was hidden in his mother's basement. Since then, he's been holding onto it, hoping to see it increase in value, Fishler said. He has not been disappointed.
"There has been a lot of interest shown on the book in the collectibles market," said Fishler, who predicted the comic book will sell for about $400,000. But, he added, no minimum price has been set for the auction, so "whatever it sells for, it sells for.
"I've known Action Comics to sell for around $750,000," comic book sales associate Bill Peterson said. "I don't have any intention on making a bid, but I know people who don't mind dropping several thousand for a classic comic."
The comic book marked the first appearances of Lois Lane, Giovanni "John" Zatara and, of course, Superman. The book is in high demand because "there was no such thing as a superhero before Superman. It spawned everything that came after -- like Batman and Spider-Man," Fishler said.
Even during the current economic downturn, Fishler expects the book to do well.
Those who can afford to bid, he said, "would ordinarily put money into the stock market. But that's a shaky proposition." These days, the comic book may even be a better investment than putting money into a CD or a bond, Fishler speculated.
Because the book was published at the close of the Great Depression, it contains advertisements that may appear quaint and quirky to 21st century readers. For only $1.25, one could buy a blonde wig, a live chameleon, a whoopee cushion, a Bible "the size of a postage stamp" or hypnosis lessons.
"Some books seem to go in and out of fashion," reads the auction blurb at But "Action Comics No. 1 will never be one of those books."

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Cave home for sale on eBay.

A Missouri family says the credit crunch has forced them to put up for sale the 17,000-square-foot home they created in a cave.

Curt Sleeper told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he and his family, like so many others,are victims of the credit crunch. He has been unable to obtain mortgage refinancing for the cave. "We don't want to move," he said. "But we need to protect our equity. We put everything we had into this home." So the Sleepers have listed the cave on eBay.

The couple, who have two children and are expecting a third, bought the cave, a former mine, five years ago.

In the late 1950s, it had been converted to a roller rink and night club called Caveland, where Tina Turner and other major stars played.

The Sleepers lived in tents for several years while they worked on the cave, calling their temporary quarters Tentworld.

The family says the cave in Festus, about 30 miles south of St. Louis, is peaceful, considering that it is only a few hundred feet from major highways and below a subdivision. It is located in a small box canyon with a bog and an assortment of wildlife.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Lincoln speech breaks auction record.

A handwritten manuscript of a speech given by Abraham Lincoln in 1864 sold for $3.44 million at an auction on Thursday, the highest price paid at an auction for an American historical document, The Associated Press reported.

The speech, delivered by Lincoln at the White House after his re-election, was sold by Christie’s in New York to an anonymous telephone bidder. The price beat the previous record of $3.40 million, set last year for a letter written by Lincoln in 1864.

The speech manuscript was put up for sale by the Southworth Library Association in Dryden, N.Y., which plans to use the proceeds to build a new wing.