Weekly News Roundup: Feb. 16-Feb. 20, 2009

Making news in the world of art, antiques and collectibles are documentary footage of African-American life in the 1920s, Roger Clemens’ 2000 World Series trophy, rare vintage wine once hidden from Nazis and a painstakingly restored 1944 Spitfire plane.

From The New York Times:
Flickery Images of Black Life Back Then

Documentary footage shot in the 1920s by Solomon Sir Jones will go up for auction next week at Swann Galleries’ annual African-American sale in New York. The 16 mm footage of a rarely documented side of African-American life and culture during this time—the five hours of film mostly feature pieces of the daily lives of prosperous African-Americans—was shot primarily in Oklahoma when Jones traveled around the state helping build churches and organize congregations. The reels are expected to go for between $40,000 and $60,000.

From Auction Central News:
Roger Clemens’ World Series Trophy in Grey Flannel’s April 29 Auction

Though lately embroiled in controversy over his alleged steroid use, Roger Clemens remains one of the greats of modern baseball. Clemens led the Yankees to multiple World Series titles, and his trophy from the 2000 “Subway Series”—when the Yankees beat the neighboring Mets for the championship—will be up for sale at a Grey Flannel auction in April. In addition to the trophy, the sale is scheduled to include other items and memorabilia from Clemens and fellow Yankee Andy Pettitte, all from the collection of former Yankees trainer Brian McNamee. McNamee testified against Clemens in December 2007 during the Mitchell Commission investigation of whether the pitcher used anabolic steroids.

From The Associated Press:
Bonhams to auction wine hidden from Nazis

Bottles of rare vintage wine that were hidden from Nazis during World War II will be auctioned off at Bonhams on March 17. The 1,500 bottles were hidden at Bucktrout & Co. during the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands, located between France and England. A bottle of Harvey’s 1897 Special Quality Port is expected to sell for $285.

From The Times Series (UK):
Spitfire for the highest bidder

A World War II Spitfire airplane is expected to fetch £1.5 million (more than $2.1 million when it goes under the hammer at a Bonhams sale held at the RAF museum in Colindale, England, in April. The first of its kind to be on the auction block in more than 20 years, the 1944 Spitfire has undergone extensive restoration and is airworthy once again.

From Bloomberg:
Like French Kings, Thain’s $35,000 Commode Didn’t Store Socks

Amid his company’s demise, a question concerning Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain’s office furniture lingers. The extravagant $1.2 million that Thain spent to decorate his office made him one of the more infamous of the ousted Wall Street CEOs, and now the question of where it all should go—or if it will stay—has experts guessing. Included in the $1.2 million worth of items is a 300-year-old French commode, worth about $35,000. Industry insiders advise Thain to “quietly” give the chair to an auction house to sell if he decides to liquidate. Thain is reportedly paying the company back for his redecorating project.

From Forbes:
Magical Carpet Set To Fetch Millions

A rug made of pearls, diamonds, rubies and emeralds will highlight the Sotheby’s inaugural auction in Doha, Qatar, on March 18. The auction house is hoping that auctions in the Middle East will buoy its current financial state. The rug, made in the 1860s for the tomb of Prophet Mohammad, took five years to create and is expected to fetch $20 million at auction.

From Voice of America:
Plan to Auction Gandhi Belongings Draws Criticism in India

The planned auction of several of Gandhi’s few worldly possessions has sparked controversy in his native land. As previously reported, eyeglasses, sandals, a pocket watch, and a bowl and plate that belonged to India’s independence leader are scheduled to go under the hammer in New York next month to private collectors. Critics of the sale say that it represents two things Gandhi stood against—consumerism and materialism—and his possessions shouldn’t be sold for profit. Many believe the items should remain in India, as national treasures, and displayed in a museum for the public to draw inspiration.

From The New York Times:
China Seeks to Stop Paris Sale of Bronzes

The Chinese government is singling out two Chinese bronze statues that are part of the Yves Saint Laurent “sale of the century” at Christie’s. The bronzes, part of the late designer’s vast collection of fine art, antiques and furniture, are—according to the Chinese government—Qing dynasty statues plundered from the Summer Palace outside Beijing during the Opium Wars. So far, Christie’s hasn’t relented, but the Chinese consider the statues to be national treasures and continue to pressure the auction house to remove them from the sale.

From The Guardian:
US and France battle for rights of shipwreck found in Lake Michigan

A ship that experts believe to be a 330-year-old French vessel was found in the bottom of Lake Michigan and is now the center of a battle between the state of Michigan and the French government. Michigan claims the shipwreck of the Griffin belongs to the state as it was abandoned after it sank in 1679 and found in waters belonging to the state. France insists that because the ship is originally French, and sank centuries ago, it is the rightful owners of the remains.

From the Examiner:
Holmes gloves go for $70,000 in auction

The gloves worn by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLIII sold for $70,000 in an online auction at Reebok.com. Holmes decided to put the gloves up for sale to benefit the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America—an organization close to his heart, as his son suffers from the disease. Holmes was wearing the gloves when he caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to seal the Steelers’ victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

From Wicked Local Sherborn (Mass.):
Lincoln books up for auction at Sherborn Library

Thirty antique books, all in some way related to Abraham Lincoln, at the Sherborn Library in Sherborn, Mass., are up for auction to benefit the library. The books range from an 1880s guide for collectors of Lincoln memorabilia and children’s books about the former president published in the early 1900s, to a variety of Lincoln biographies and four “Lincoln Readers.” All the tomes up for auction were donated to the library over the past 30 years.

From MTV News:
Michael Jackson Auction—Including White Glove!—To Take In Millions

Headlining the auction of more than 2,000 items from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch are the gates to Jackson’s home and his iconic white sparkly glove. The public auction, scheduled for April 22–25, will also feature the King of Pop’s Rolls-Royce, custom-made costumes, suits of armor, fine art and furniture, and other items from the ranch. The sale is estimated to bring in between $1.5 million and $3 million. Jackson’s representatives maintain that the star’s recent financial troubles are not the catalyst for the sale.

From BBC News:
Nude Madonna ‘sets sale record’

Lee Friedlander’s 1979 black-and-white photograph of Madonna—before she became the entertainment icon she is today—sold at auction for $37,500 last week. Part of the collection of Leon and Michela Constantiner, the photo brought in more than $20,000 above Christie’s original presale estimate of $15,000. Another famous photograph of Madonna, shot by Herb Ritts, was also sold at the auction.

From The Oregonian:
Auctioneer accused of theft dies in N.Y.

A Portland, Ore., auctioneer who was wanted in several counties for aggravated theft and for swindling more than 20 people out of a total of $1.7 million worth of family heirlooms, jewelry and antiques, died of a heart attack in Buffalo, N.Y. Robert Mathison fled to New York in 2004 with the stolen goods, and Portland police officers had recently found him in Buffalo. When they arrested him and were transporting him back to Oregon to face trial, Mathison suffered a heart attack and died despite medical help. The stolen items are being returned to Oregon.

From The Washington Post:
Obama Collectors’ Quandry: T-Shirt or Bobblehead?

Veteran collectors know a thing or two about which items are worth the cash and which ones probably won’t go up in value. With the plethora of Barack Obama- and inauguration day-related memorabilia available right now, it takes a sharp, discerning eye to separate the wheat from the chaff. Among the scores of items are an “Obama Victory” commemorative plate, prints of Shepard Fairey’s iconic poster, inaugural mints and Obama action figures. According to one experienced collector, people like him are waiting until the Obama collectibles market calms down to buy in.

From Auction Central News:
Carter Center raises $800K at annual auction

Topping the Carter Center’s annual auction in Port Lucie, Fla., last week was a painting by the former president himself, which sold for $100,000. The auction brought in more than $800,000 to benefit the Atlanta-based Carter Center, which does humanitarian and aid work around the world. The limping economy had some affect on the auction. Last year’s total was more than $1.2 million. Other highlights included a fly-fishing trip with the Carters ($80,000) and a baseball signed by five former presidents ($82,500).

From BBC News:
Are coin fairs the new investment clubs?

Investing wisely in the right kind of coins could help you get through the tough economic climate. Coin dealers and collectors have been busy at recent coin shows and fairs around England, including the Midland Coin Fair, hoping that a little investment will pay off. Some are investing in strictly gold and silver coins, and others are looking for that one specific coin to complete their collection. Either way, collectibles like coins are seen as a fairly solid investment, especially in times like these.

By Elizabeth Hendley, a WorthPoint writer based in Seattle

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