Weekly News Roundup: June 22-June 26, 2009

In art, auction and collectibles headlines is the sale of a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece that has been featured frequently in movies and TV shows, a poor showing for Christie’s, a very pricey straw bag and the Fab Four show their star power again.

From Reuters:
Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed Ennis House to be sold

It was “The House on Haunted Hill” with Vincent Price. Harrison Ford’s pad in “Blade Runner.” Used in Ridley Scott’s “Black Rain” and the hero-flick “The Rocketeer.” And now the Los Angeles estate that Frank Lloyd Wright designed in 1922 is up for sale. The house fell into steady disrepair over the years and was added to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s most-endangered list in 2005. Only four of Wright’s textile-block houses were built. This one used 27,000 concrete blocks. Christie’s has set the price for the 6,000-square-foot estate at $15 million. Well worth it when you consider “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” featured it, as well.

From The New York Times:
Only a Few Hills in the Valley of Christie’s Season-Opening Art Auction

It may be too soon to call an end to the down market in art despite what billionaire collector Eli Broad said recently. This week’s auction by Christie’s in London was hardly a resounding success. True, a Monet went for more than $10 million and a Picasso for $9.3 million, but a similar auction last year rang up at $284 million total. Tuesday’s sale? An anemic $60.4 million.

From The Los Angeles Times:
Sold: Estelle Getty’s Emmy Award for $7,320

The late Estelle Getty is probably best remembered for playing the tart-tongued Sophia on “The Golden Girls.” Her 1988 Emmy for the role brought in more than $7,000 at a recent Bonhams auction. But that’s nothing compared to the straw purse she carried on the show. It was expected to sell for a thousand, maybe twelve hundred. Try $9,150.

Also sold was the Tony Gertrude Berg (Molly Goldberg from the early, early days of TV) received for “A Majority of One.” The winning bid was $1,830.

From BBC News:
Beatles poster sells for $50,000

And as long as we’re talking about entertainment memorabilia, how about the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club poster signed by John, Paul, Ringo and George? It sold for $52,500 at a Christie’s auction. Grunger Kurt Cobain’s bass guitar went for $43,750. The leather jacket that Bob Crane always seemed to have on as the title character of TV’s “Hogan’s Heroes” realized two times its presale estimate at a tidy $40,000.

From The Associated Press:
Indiana soldier’s rare `Federalist’ copy nets $80K

Paying attention in class has paid off for a National Guard captain who will be deployed to Iraq for the second time this summer. When Nathan Harlan was a 16-year-old high-school student, he bought a book at a flea market for a big seven bucks. He remembered studying “The Federalist Papers” written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay to drum up support for the Constitution. And this was one volume of a two-volume set. It turned out to be a first edition.

Harlan, now 35, put the book up for auction. It was presale estimated at between $8,000 and $12,000. No wonder the captain started “yelling as the [online] bids were coming in—it was like watching the Super Bowl for me.” The winning bid was $80,000. And nicely, because of Harlan’s military service, Heritage Auction Galleries waived the customary 20-percent seller’s commission.

From the Indianapolis Star:
Signed, sealed, delivered: Stamp sold for $375K

Update on the Ice House Cover: The Abraham Lincoln stamp and accompanying envelope had a long and winding history including a brush with the underworld (a bad guy part of the gang who stole it in 1967 faced the wrong side of a firearm after he tried to sell the collection the cover was in). The latest stop was Siegel Auction Galleries where the Ice House brought in a cool $375,000.

From The Boston Globe:
N.H. auction house sells Einstein photo for $74K

It’s one of those photos you don’t forget. Genius Albert Einstein mugging for the camera, sticking out his tongue like a mischievous 3-year-old. Arthur Sasse, a UPI photographer, got the shot in 1951. One of the original prints, this one signed by Einstein, went for $74,000.

From The Times (UK):
Christie’s sold £1.7m ‘forgery’

In our very cramped Oops Department, the nude stretched on a bed sold by Christie’s for $2.8 million may not have been painted by 19th-century Russian artist Boris Kustodiev. Or so says a Russian art organization that sniffs out forgeries. The bidder who “won” the painting three years ago has asked for a refund from the auction house.