Weekly News Roundup: Aug. 31-Sept. 4, 2009

In art, antiques and collectibles news is Sotheby’s taking a rating hit, a tennis memorabilia auction coinciding with the U.S. Open, a seagoing exhibit in the Middle East and auctioning off the crypt above Marilyn Monroe’s.

From Bloomberg:
Sotheby’s Corporate Credit Rating Is Cut One Level by Moody’s

So. Moody’s dropped Sotheby’s rating from Ba2 to Ba3. On the other hand, Moody’s feels the auction house “will successfully weather the current downturn.” And Sotheby’s did manage to show a quarterly profit even if net profit fell. So goes life in the tumultuous auction world.

From Bloomberg:
Williams Sisters Portrait, Riggs’s Jacket Lead U.S.T.A. Auction

Tennis collecting has long labored in the shadows of other sports. But if you’d like to own a 1992 Yonex racket autographed by Pam Shriver (estimate $250 to $350) or memorabilia from the 1975 exhibition match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King dubbed the “Battle of the Sexes” (estimate of $10,000, but it includes Riggs’ warm-up jacket), head on up to the U.S. Open in Queens. Guersney’s has 500 lots from which to choose. The auction is set for September 11 and 13.

From The Art Newspaper:
Politically sensitive art to be exhibited at sea

Things being what they are in the Middle East, it’s understandable that Arab artists might not want to exhibit in Israel. A group called Ex-Territory has found a solution. A ship in neutral waters will be used as a floating gallery. The first offering will be videos projected on the vessel’s sails.

From NPR:
Bid For Crypt Above Marilyn Monroe Falls Through

And now for some creepy news. In 1986, Richard Poncher was laid to rest in the crypt above that of Marilyn Monroe—face down on his request. Fast forward 23 years, and his widow decided to move her husband and sell the crypt above Monroe. (Hugh Hefner, should he ever die, will be interred in the crypt next to her.) So what did Widow Poncher do? She turned to eBay.

When the bidding ended, some guy in Japan was the winner, coming in at $4.6 million. But wait a minute, Widow Poncher will have to wait to pay off her mortgage. The check was not in the mail or PayPal. The Japanese fellow bowed out. “I need to cancel this because of the paying problem.”

From The New York Times:
So Surreal: Thrift Shop Art May Be by Dalí

There among the secondhand clothes and tacky jewelry in a Houston Salvation Army store are some possible Dalis (with Dali, it’s almost always “possible” since fakes are all over the market) that might be worth $76,000. For real. People are writing bids on a clipboard, and the highest so far is $8,000. Really.

From The Los Angeles Times:
State’s EBay sales strategy poor, auction expert says

California may be broke. Still, you’d think it could have found someone who could take decent pictures of items it was auctioning on eBay. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called cleaning out state warehouses and selling on eBay and craigslist, the Great California Garage Sale. The president of Auction Cause criticized the execution of the sale. For one thing, he said, “A 12-year-old could have taken better pictures of jewelry and cars.” In addition, buyers would have to pick up cars in the Golden State, reducing the potential buying pool.

From The Philadelphia Inquirer via ARTINFO:
Painting Bought for $4 Contains Million-Dollar Document

Sigh, in the Why Couldn’t It Happen to Me? Department, a fellow took a liking to a frame at a Pennsylvania antique market. So he paid $4 for it and got the painting, as well. When he removed the picture, what did he find but an old document. As it turned out, a very valuable old document—one of the first printed copies of the Declaration of Independence in very good condition. How valuable? Sotheby’s is thinking in the $800,000 to $1.2 million range.

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  1. jack says:

    The story of “The lucky purchase of the document in the PA. Antique Shop”, is the equivalent of an advertising promotion for these merchandise venues. I worked in a GoodWill Thrift Shop during my college years and I equate the stores to be on par with lottery playing. The regular customers were waiting at the doors when we opened to check our new items just put out. Dealers and collectors were the regulars we knew by name. These people just cut the chase- if you won a lottery for a $1 investment you might get $100 or $500, etc. Then you go shopping, So these people go right to the merchandise- get it for a fewbucks and have the value of much more, often in the hundreds of dollars. The formula for success in the thrift shops is that they can let a valuable item pass through because those single items will magnetize customers and sales for all that other junk they sell. Our store did $800 a day on average.