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A WWII bunker, mixed big-ticket auction results and a huge antiques fair

by Sandra Lee Stuart (07/14/08).

Discovery of a WWII bunker off the coast of Denmark, different outcomes for similar contemporary art auctions in London, and a big antiques fair.

Militaria-Filled WWII Bunker Discovered in Denmark

A German WWII bunker was found on Denmark’s North Sea coast by archeologists. The bunker has been untouched for 63 years, the Danish newspaper, Politiken, reported. According to Jens Andersen, director of the Hansholm Bunker Museum, wind blew away a layer of sand that had been covering the bunker and its booty of collectibles, exposing the military holding for the first time in more than six decades.

Archaeologists who inspected the site found the interior had not been touched since German troops abandoned it. An interior rife with military antiques includes chairs, bunks, cabinets, pieces of uniforms and bottles of ink.

According to Germany’s English-language newspaper The Local, this historic military bunker is one of more than 5,000 Nazi bunkers that line Denmark’s North Sea coast, part of what was known as the Third Reich’s “Atlantic Wall” line of defense.

At Both Christie’s and Sotheby’s, Bacon Brings It Home

In London, Christie’s and Sotheby’s held high-profile contemporary art sales, hoping to capitalize on recent escalating sales by well-known artists. At Christie’s, high estimates coupled with minimum guarantees made for a disappointing combination on July 1, despite exciting results for a Francis Bacon piece.

According to Bloomberg.com, healthy bidding accompanied a set of three self-portraits by Bacon titled, “Three Studies for Self-Portrait,” 1975. The artwork fetched $34.5 million, bought by an anonymous buyer by phone, and was the most expensive lot for the auction. The works of three other artists, considered pre-auction standouts, had mixed results. A Jeff Koons’ sculpture went for $25.6 million after being estimated at almost $24 million. Lucian Freud’s 1980 “Naked Portrait with Reflection” brought in more than $23.4 million after having a top estimate of $30 million. Lucio Fontana’s “La Fine di Dio,” on the other hand, estimated at close to $16million, did not sell.

At Sotheby’s auction the following day The New York Times reported brisk sales of contemporary paintings by Bacon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hirst and Marlene Dumas. Dumas’ 1995 “Visitor” sold for $6.3 million, two times Sotheby’s high estimate. Sotheby’s estimated the Bacon, a portrait of George Dyer, at $15.5 million: it sold for $27.4 million.

Mega Summer Antiques Show in Baltimore

The Baltimore Summer Antiques Show will take place August 28-31 and expects 30,000 in attendance and more than 550 international dealers, according to the official Web site promoting the 28th installment of the summer event. Following on the heels of the American Numismatic Association’s event in the same convention center, the antiques show will include an Antiquarian Book Fair, fine art, furniture, porcelain, silver, American folk art, home accoutrements, jewelry, furniture, glass and textiles. Among the highlights is a lecture series from renowned experts in the fields of silver, jewelry and antiquities.

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