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.