Weekly News Roundup: May 25-May 29, 2009

From Auction Central News:
Wright’s June 2 sale goes ‘back to the Futuro’ with Suuronen house

Did you always want to be the first on your block to live in a flying saucer? Now’s your chance. A Futuro house by architect Matti Suuronen is on the auction block in June. The house’s design, which really does look like a spaceship, was created by Suuronen for a friend who wanted a cabin in a hard-to-reach area of central Finland. So hard to reach that motor vehicles couldn’t get to it. No, Suuronen’s house didn’t fly to its spot, but its sections were light enough to be coptered in and assembled. The Futuro never caught on. Only about 100 were manufactured between the late ’60s and early ’70s. The estimate on the one being auctioned in Chicago is $50,000 to $75,000.

From The New York Times:
Assets of Splendor From a Stock Exchange

The 13-story Chicago Exchange, built in 1894, was one of the first buildings to scrape Chicago’s sky. Designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, it was a grand structure with extraordinary detail—breathtaking skylights, canvas murals, beautiful ironwork, gorgeous elevators (with no Muzak). When the exchange was demolished between 1971 and 1972, salvagers and scavengers were quick to carry off what treasures they could. Some of the booty is up for auction at Christie’s next week. Skylight panes. A staircase post. An 8-foot-long canvas frieze. More items will go under the hammer in December.

From Bloomberg:
Warhol Collector Wins Right to Pursue Foundation Suit

When is an Andy Warhol not an Andy Warhol? Maybe when it’s a fake. Joe Simon-Whelan bought what he believed was an Andy Warhol self-portrait. And why wouldn’t he believe so when it was authenticated by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Only problem was Simon-Whelan when tried to resell it in 2001 for a couple of million (he had bought it for $195,000 in 1989). He said it was twice labeled a fake.

A federal judge ruled that Simon-Whelan could proceed with his class-action suit against the Warhol foundation alleging it committed fraud.

From The Associated Press:
Update: Audrey Hepburn stamp fetches 67,000 in Germany

Audrey Hepburn hasn’t lost her charm and allure. The smoking German stamp (see “Rare Audrey Hepburn stamp goes to auction” below) again demonstrated her star power. The minimum was set at €30,000 ($41,959), but an unidentified bidder really wanted one of the five known stamps that weren’t destroyed after a copyright dispute. When the hammer came down, Audrey left to the tune of €67,000 ($93,800), enough for a nice breakfast at Tiffany’s.

From BBC News:
Update: Marcel Marceau debt auction ends

Fans who tried to block the auction of internationally acclaimed mime Marcel Marceau’s possessions did the next best thing. They bought some of the items. Marceau had gone deeply into debt paying for his shows. His heirs felt they had no choice but to sell Marceau memorabilia—among them his sailor suit and opera hat. According to an art expert, some of the pieces were bought by the French government and will be displayed. After the first of the two-day auction, €500,000 ($692,000) was already on the plus side.

From Bloomberg:
Elvis’s Pill Bottles Up for Sale in First ‘Dr. Nick’ Auction

An upcoming Julien’s Auction has a ton of stuff for Elvis crazies, change that to fans. George “Dr. Nick” Nichopoulos, the King’s personal physician is selling his personal collection of all things Elvis. How about a Urecholine (a drug for urinary or bladder problems) bottle prescribed the day before Presley’s death. Or how about Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet” that the good doctor gave to Presley.

A French court ruled that Marcel Marceau's belongings should be auctioned to pay off debtors. His fans are irate.

A French court ruled that Marcel Marceau's belongings should be auctioned to pay off debtors. His fans are irate.

From Reuters:
Theatre fans up in arms over Marcel Marceau auction

Marcel Marceau, the French mime star, died broke in 2007. After years of performing in all corners of the globe, the 84-year-old had gone through his money supporting theatrical shows. Before he died, he asked the French government to turn his house into a performing space.

A French court, however, ruled that his belongings should be auctioned to pay off debtors. Among them are the signature hat wore by his character, Bip. Fans are trying to raise money to walk away with the hat, costumes, books about mime. In case you’re wondering, it’s not a silent auction.

From NBC2 (Fort Myers, Fla.) News:
Medieval torture devices set for auction block

This auction of devices to create extreme pain by one human being to another might seem macabre. The torture table with ropes for stretching a body. The Spanish Pear, placed in the mouth, when its leaves were opened, the victim’s mouth was demolished. And who would amass such a collection? A Holocaust survivor who was tortured and wanted others to understand the horror of torture.

From Bloomberg:
Broad’s ‘Blind’ Bid Was on Time, Christie’s Says in Sale Battle

As reported earlier, Christie’s is being sued by a would-be buyer who claims that bidding was reopened after his was accepted. Christie’s now argues that the auctioneer brought down the gavel without seeing a paddle raised in his “blind spot.” That bidder was in the first row out of sight line. The painting in contention is a Sam Francis abstract. A representative for billionaire Eli Broad took “Grey” for $3.5 million.

From Bloomberg:
Chinese Masters’ Artworks Exceed Estimates at Hong Kong Auction

In another sign that things are looking up in the art world, sales during the first day of Christie’s four-day Hong Kong auction, almost doubled estimates. Leading the pack were Chinese masters. A 1937 scroll by Qi Baishi and Qi Gong that went for HK$4.58 million ($591,000). The 207 lots on the block Sunday realized HK$68.9 million ($8,889,000).

The rare German stamp portraying movie star Audrey Hepburn smoking. Only five copies of this stamp are known to exist.

The rare German stamp portraying movie star Audrey Hepburn smoking. Only five copies of this stamp are known to exist.

From The Associated Press:
Rare Audrey Hepburn stamp goes to auction

There is an iconic shot of Audrey Hepburn in her “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” role with a cigarette holder as long as a city block in her hand. In 2001, Germany was issuing a series of stamps with the likenesses of Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin and Great Garbo, among others. The government had already printed 14 million Hepburn stamps when her son wouldn’t grant copyright permission for the picture. He didn’t like his mother shown smoking. Go figure.

The Germans had no other choice than to destroy the print run. Which they thought they did except 30 did not make it to the incinerator. One of them is up for auction this week in Berlin with a minimum bid of €30,000 ($41,959).

From The New York Times:
Clinton’s Sax Sold at Auction for AIDS Research

Harken way back to the days of yesteryear before text messaging, blogging and “The Colbert Report.” Bill Clinton shocked the political world. No, not that. As a candidate in 1992, in attempt to woo the younger vote, Big Bubba appeared on MTV and played his saxophone. Now move forward to 2009. His signed sax was auctioned off at an AIDS benefit during this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The winning bid was €130,000 ($180,000). Robert Pattinson, who has achieved heartthrob status with teenage girls, offered two kisses. His puckering up brought in €20,000 ($28,000) each. Not bad for a 23-year-old whose first role in 2004 was uncredited.
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