Category Archive 'Auction Sales'
01 Oct 2023

Important Rug

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Safavid red-ground ‘Palmette and Bird’ carpet, circa 1565-75

Christie’s Auction 21892 London 26 – 25 OCT
Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Rugs and Carpets, Lot 150:

Wool pile on a silk and cotton foundation, lacking outer stripe, areas of negligible wear, localised reweaves and restoration, sides rebound, an additional tape applied on all four sides
16ft.9in. x 7ft.3in. (517cm. x 225cm.)

Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934), Paris
With Colnaghi Oriental, London, circa 1975
With The Textile Gallery and Elio Cittone, Milan
Roberto Calvi, Milan
Canadian Collector, sold Christie’s London, 17 October 1996, lot 404
Private Collector, sold Sotheby’s New York, 20 September 2001, lot 221
Gordon P. Getty, sold Sotheby’s New York, 1 February 2013, lot 22, from where purchased by the present owner

GBP 2,000,000 – GBP 3,000,000 — $2,393,400.00 – $3,590m100.00

See essay & video.

10 Jun 2023


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The Omega Watch Company Museum paid $3.4 million USD at auction for a rare example of one of its own brand watches that has recently been proven to be a fake. link

The 1957 OMEGA Speedmaster that sold at Phillips for a record-breaking USD$3.4 million (AUD$4.6 million at the time) has been revealed as a fake. The immaculate Ref. 2915-1, which was described as the Swiss maison’s “most historically important model” first made headlines in 2021, when it appeared in the lineup for Phillips’ Geneva Watch Auction: XIV. Seen as the holy grail of Speedmasters and a design often thought lost to the world, the model drew the interest of many avid collectors, each clambering to hold a piece of history in their hands. Less than two years later and a string of reports have revealed the most expensive OMEGA ever sold, was simply too good to be true.

But that’s just the beginning.

Bloomberg is reporting that the 1957 OMEGA Speedmaster Ref. 2915-1 is not an original example, but rather a piece constructed using parts from other vintage watches. According to Sydney-based registered watch and jewellery valuer Damien Kalmar, the end result of this process is referred to as a ‘Frankenwatch’, a term used within the industry to demonstrate the lengths and sophistication of the forgery. While not uncommon, these pieces generally take the form of a vintage Seiko or OMEGA Seamaster, due to the ubiquitous and collectible nature of the design.

“Copy (or fake) watches have been around for a very long time, and forgers have been making copies of OMEGA watches for decades,” the Kalmar Antiques director tells us. “Whether they are models produced post-1969 dubbed ‘moon watches’ after Buzz Aldrin famously wore one on the landing of the moon, or the ‘pre-moon watches’ dating prior – Speedmasters have always been highly collectable watches and remain popular in the current market.”

So, with that knowledge on hand, the question begs to be asked, how did a watch that was supposedly OMEGA’s “most historically important model” manage to slip through the cracks?

According to the brand, the very expensive mixup was an inside job. In the Bloomberg report, OMEGA claims that three former employees were behind a very intricate scheme to dupe collectors, auctioneers and the brand itself. Considering the actualised price was around 25 times the pre-sale estimate, they were damn close to pulling it off.

As per OMEGA’s allegations, a former employee of its museum and brand heritage department “worked in tandem with intermediaries to purchase the watch for the OMEGA Museum”. On the advice of this employee, OMEGA purchased the watch for its in-house collection with company executives reportedly told that it was a “rare and exceptional timepiece that would be an absolute must”.

As we reported back in November 2021, the 1957 model represented the perfect culmination of time periods and design language. Only in production between 1957 and 1959, the Ref. 2915-1 and -2 models received the ‘Broad Arrow’ minute and hour hands, alongside a metal bezel – as opposed to the standard bezel with black insert. Additionally, the rare piece was said to sport slightly different dial graphics, distinguishable by the oval O of OMEGA, which later became perfectly round.

“In terms of design, it was the first chronograph to feature a tachymeter scale (or, as OMEGA called it at the time, the Tacho-productometer scale) on the bezel, rather than on the dial,” Phillips wrote at the time. “In terms of movements, OMEGA did not go for a brand new calibre, turning instead to calibre 321, an extremely robust and reliable column-wheel chronograph, which it recognised as the best available option for its new Speedmaster.”

Alas, it was not meant to be. OMEGA has not named the ex-staffers it claims were responsible for the con, however, CEO Raynald Aeschlimann told Swiss newspaper NZZ that the deception had been “to the massive detriment of OMEGA”. Even more bizarrely, the watchmaker apparently doesn’t know who consigned the watch to Phillips for the auction, making the entire ordeal all the more strange. A Phillips Spokesperson confirmed that the auction house obtained confirmation from OMEGA of the date of manufacture of the numbered movement, serial number, the model of watch that the movement was fitted to and the date it was sold

“Until last week, nobody had ever suggested this OMEGA watch was not authentic, the watch was inspected by specialists, experts and even the manufacturer at the time of the sale and nobody raised any concerns over it,” the Spokesperson told Man of Many. “Even now, we have not seen any reports or had access to the watch to carry out an in-depth analysis of the watch regarding those claims.”

“We understand representatives of OMEGA saw the watch before they purchased it. We believe OMEGA is bringing criminal charges against the perpetrators.”


Personally, I find that brown dial ugly.

09 May 2023

Speaking of Things Coming Up at Auction…

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Steve McQueen’s 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 by Scaglietti.

At Sotheby’s, Monterey, 18 – 19 August 2023, the Ferrari 275 GTB/4 once owned by the King of Cool. The front-engined grand tourer is expected to fetch serious money due to its provenance. Under the long and shapely hood of the Scaglietti-design is a 3.3-liter Colombo V12 engine good for 300 horsepower. It’s a rather unique car, having been repainted in stunning Chianti Red (over the original gold paint) and then fitted with the wheels and wing mirror from his convertible Ferrari 275 GTB/4 that he had crashed. This very car was restored to perfection by Ferrari Classiche between 2010 and 2013. It sold for $10 million at RM Sotheby’s flagship Monterey sale back in August 2014, and it should fetch an even larger sum when it hits the auction block again this August.

Sotheby’s listing.

08 May 2023

Seriously Cool!

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The 1896 Mauser “Broomhandle” semi-automatic pistol fired an 86 grain bullet (a lot like today’s 90 grain 9mm Parabellums) at a much zippier 1450 fps (like a .357 magnum, just a smaller bullet). The magazine held ten rounds, and it was the most powerful handgun in the world right up until the late 1930s when the.357 Magnum came along.

Winston Churchill carried one when he charged with the 21st Lancers at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898, and it saved his bacon.

I have one, of less distinguished pedigree, myself. It’s a really neat, historical, and quite accurate gun, and plenty powerful. When you shoot it, it belches fire out the muzzle and the breech!

Back when I still lived in Connecticut, I was in the habit of test firing guns a bit in my basement. There was a second room under the north wing of the house, and against an old porch pillar standing in support I would prop up a series of 2x4s and other scrap boards with lots of layers, ink in a bullseye, and then fire into the target through the doorway from the outer basement room.

When I first fired my Broomhandle, the bullet penetrated straight through six layers of boards ricocheted off the concrete walls of the far room three times and then exited through a basement window. I was impressed, and felt really stupid and really lucky, though I did have to go and replace that glass!

Cool as my Broomhandle is, the scoped model coming up for auction soon is decidedly cooler. Unfortunately, it apparently falls into the “All the Tea in China” range of collectable value. I still enjoyed looking at the auction listing.

SCOPE & STOCK. Cal. 7.63mm. S# 834001. Seldom does one come across a truly unique special order firearm. This incredible ensemble was reportedly made in 1931 and based on a 1930 Commercial pistol. The frame was dimensionally changed, thickened in the upper portion of the right side to provide a flat surface for a scope base upon which could be mounted an OIGEE scope. The scoped pistol, attached to a standard 1930 Commercial stock, presenting an extraordinarily ensemble that may have been used as a basis for the Hollywood Han Solo blaster. This exact ensemble was sold at a major auction house in the U.S., many years ago, for over $50,000, and was profiled in great detail in the German language C96 book “GESCHICHTE & MODELLE 1923-1945, Vol 4″ on pages 135-137″. The project started using a standard M1930 Commercial having a 5.5″ bbl. w/ fixed front sight & slip-in rear sight graduated 50-1000. Short extractor, 2-lug firing pin, universal safety & sm. ring hammer. Usual Mauser address on top of chamber, Crown/”C”/”U” proof on left chamber flat. Full S# on left side of bbl. extension, disassembly showing a matching frame & an unnumbered locking block & floorplate. The special order work was largely directed to the right side of the frame where the upper portion was machined flat. A scope base was attached using 2 lg. diameter pins, then welded in place, its surface having 2 channels for the cammed levers of the mount. The mount slipped over the base & was secured by turning the levers, just as used to attach a Luger stock to its corresponding lug. Sturdy rings were used to secure an OIGEE scope, the manufacturer active from 1910-1960, marked “OIGEE/BERLIN” in 2 locations, with a magnification of 2.5x & marked “6134” under adjustment knobs. “5588” marked on top of scope, arguably representing the model. Presenting reticle is a central pointed post bracketed by 2 equally thick horizontal bars. The attaching stock is from a standard production 1930 Commercial, this one having an unmarked lug w/ squared shoulders. UNATTACHED ACCESSORIES: scope w/ attached mount & 1930 Commercial shoulder stock. CONDITION: near excellent original salt blue as applied by Mauser to their 1930 Commercial pistols w/ a tempering line just behind the chamber & another at the upper rear of the frame. Sharp edge & handling wear as one might expect from a pistol that has seen light use w/ no evidence of touch up. Bright bore w/sharp rifling. Perfect manual mechanics. Scope & mount, each w/ original finish, are in the same condition w/ scope having bright, crisp optics. Excellent shoulder stock w/a light scattering of handling dings, comparable condition hinge, lug w/ fading over its upper arm. An absolutely stunning special order ensemble. Yes, you could own the Hollywood blaster, but wouldn’t you rather have the real thing? (22-3153/LMA). CURIO. $35,000-65,000.

10 Feb 2023

Hiroshige: “Night Rain at Akasaka Kiribatake”

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Utagawa Hiroshige II, Night Rain at Akasaka Kiribatake (Akasaka Kiribatake uchû yûkei), from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (Meisho Edo hyakkei): 1859.

Purchased at an auction last Sunday.

16 Nov 2022

TR’s Smith & Wesson New Model 3

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Factory Engraved! You can’t get that today.

19 Jun 2022

27-Year-Old’s Paintings Recently Sold for Seven Figures

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Anna Weyant.

As Spring Auction Sales reports come in, the art world is suddenly agog at Anna Weyant’s sudden ascent.


On the night artist Anna Weyant’s work debuted at Christie’s, the 27-year-old painter was too nervous to attend or even watch the livestream. Instead, Ms. Weyant holed up in her small Manhattan apartment and listened to a calming app on her cellphone until a friend texted with news.

“Summertime,” Ms. Weyant’s portrait of a woman with long, flowing hair that the artist had sold for around $12,000 two years before, resold for $1.5 million, five times its high estimate.

It has been a rocket-fueled rise to the top of the contemporary art world for Ms. Weyant—and far from her unassuming start in Calgary, Canada. Spotted on Instagram three years ago and quickly vouched for by a savvy handful of artists, dealers and advisers, Ms. Weyant is now internationally coveted for her paintings of vulnerable girls and mischievous women in sharply lit, old-master hues. Imagine Botticelli as a millennial, whose porcelain-skin beauties also pop one leg high like the Victoria Beckham meme or sport gold necklaces that read, “Ride or Die.”

Ms. Weyant’s oeuvre of roughly 50 paintings has already filtered into the hands of top collectors such as investor Glenn Fuhrman and plastic surgeon Stafford Broumand. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art recently exhibited her work in a group show, and former Venice Biennale curator Francesco Bonami said he predicts she will make her own Biennale appearance soon, which would be another career milestone.

As is, demand for her art outstrips her supply: The waiting list to buy one of her paintings, dealers say, is at least 200 names long. And last month she teamed up with the biggest art gallery of them all, Gagosian. … Read the rest of this entry »

16 Sep 2021

Emily Dickinson’s Hair

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Two locks of hair, one blond, one brown, allegedly from the head of Emily Dickinson are being offered for sale on Ebay for $450,000.

Were they stolen decades ago from The Evergreens by the poet James Merrill? See LithHub.

[A] bit of questionably obtained Dickinson memorabilia has been quietly traded among a group of literary men for years: locks alleged to be the poet’s hair (some of which are now for sale on eBay for the astronomical sum of $450,000).

How the poet—who chose to cloister her living body from all but a few visitors—would feel about pieces of it making the rounds is anybody’s guess. The dead cannot give consent. But the alleged Dickinson hair may have arrived on the market by a type of violation: theft. That’s the theory of Mark Gallagher, the English faculty member at UCLA who’s trying to sell the hair on eBay.

The story goes like this: While an undergraduate at Amherst College in the 1940s, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Merrill broke into the home (aka The Evergreens) of Dickinson’s niece, Martha Dickinson Bianchi. Merrill and two friends absconded with personal effects, including a small mirror, “tiny wine glass,” and a manuscript sheet—written by whom, it is unclear. The caper was recounted by Stephen Yenser in a 1995 issue of Poetry magazine dedicated to Merrill, who had died earlier that year. Yenser, Merrill’s literary executor and the now-retired founder of UCLA’s creative writing program, said he heard the tale from Merrill himself. In Poetry, he euphemized what was essentially burglary with terms like “borrowed” and “rescued,” writing that the trio “gained clandestine entry.”

The anecdote has been whispered among Dickinson scholars for years, according to University of Maryland English Prof. Martha Nell Smith, one of the nation’s foremost experts on Dickinson.

“I’ve long been convinced James Merrill did wander off with (steal?) some Dickinson items from the Evergreens, Martha Dickinson Bianchi’s home,” Smith wrote in an email.

Gallagher believes that Merrill must have also taken the hair during the alleged break-in at The Evergreens. Gallagher got his hands on the hair by way of the poet J.D. McClatchy, who, until his death in 2018, shared Merrill’s literary executorship with Yenser. McClatchy’s estate sale, where Gallagher purchased the hair, listed Merrill as the original owner.

Yenser, for his part, denies any nefarious origin for the locks. He says the hair came from an envelope found inside an 1890 edition of Poems by Emily Dickinson that belonged to Merrill, likely purchased from a rare book dealer.

Yet the envelope was labeled in cursive “For Mrs. Dickinson,” and the book in which it was found includes notes from Susan Gilbert Dickinson, according to Yale University, which now holds the volume and provided photos of the artifacts (below). Susan was Martha’s mother, and she and her husband Austin, Emily’s brother, lived at The Evergreens until their respective deaths in 1895 and 1913. Their daughter Martha then moved into the property and “preserved it without change, until her own death in 1943,” according to the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, which controls The Evergreens. As far as Gallagher is concerned it’s quite possible Merrill took the book when he broke into the property.


04 Sep 2021

Oppenheimer Early Meissen Collection

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Sotheby’s will shortly be auctioning a really remarkable collection of the earliest hard-paste porcelain made in Europe, by the Meissen factory in Saxony created by Augustus the Strong.

Museum quality stuff worth a look.

28 Aug 2021

Johnny Ringo’s Colt Sold Yesterday For $362,812

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The Early West
The Collection of Jim and Theresa Earle
27 Aug 2021, 12:00 PDT
Los Angeles


Serial no. 222 for 1874, .45 caliber, 7 1/4 inch barrel with single line address. Doughnut ejector. US mark on left side of frame (partially defaced), Inspectors marks on barrel. Serial number partially visible on frame and triggerguard. Number on cylinder defaced. Condition: Good. Generally no finish with traces of blue on ejector housing balance a brown patina. Toe of left grip missing. Worn grips with no visible inspectors marks. Cylinder possibly replaced. Barrel shortened through wear. A very early martially marked single action.

Provenance: Johnny Ringo, found in his hand in Morse Canyon (mentioned by serial number, containing five cartridges, in inquest document, “Statement for the information of the Coroner and Sheriff of Cochise County, A.T.,” 1882); by descent to Mrs. Prigmore; to Allen Erwin (bill of sale, signed by Erwin and by Mrs. Prigmore’s son Donald Wilson, on her behalf); by descent to Francis Huffstadter (signed Power of Attorney, May 2, 1979; sold European and American Firearms, Sotheby Parke Bernet, Los Angeles, 1980, to Jim and Theresa Earle.

Literature: Burrows, Jack, John Ringo: The Gunfighter Who Never Was, Tucson, 1980, p 101; Wilson, R.L., The Peacemakers, New York, 1992.

Sold for US$ 362,812 inc. premium.

27 Aug 2021

Al Capone Colt Model 1911

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A Century of Notoriety: The Estate of Al Capone
October 08, 2021 06:00 PM PDT Gallery

Al Capone’s “Favorite” .45 Auto
Colt Model 1911 semi-automatic pistol. Partial serial number C 837. Cal .45 refinished at the time of engraving.

Provenance: Al Capone to Mae Capone to Sonny Capone to his daughters, uninterrupted.

Starting Price: $50,000
Estimate: $100,000 – $150,000

Fine engraving, excellent Sambar stag grips, and customized for target shooting. A gentleman’s gun, rather than a ganster’s.

02 Aug 2021

Another Rare Coin First Found by British Metal Detectors

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The Gold Penny or Mancus of 30 Pence, was struck during the time of Ecgberht, King of the West Saxons between 802 and 839.

Evening Standard:

An Anglo-Saxon coin discovered by a metal detectorist is set to fetch up to £200,000 [$277,791.37] at auction.

It was unearthed by a metal detectorist at West Dean, on the Wiltshire and Hampshire border, in March 2020.

Experts say it is the only late Anglo-Saxon gold coin in private hands, with eight other specimens held in institutions – seven at the British museum.

The coin, which weighs 4.82g, is expected to fetch between £150,000 and £200,000 at a sale of coins and historical medals by auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb on September 8.

This coin probably represents a mancus, a gold denomination that first appeared in central and northern Italy, but was current in England already before the year 800.


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