Weekly News Roundup: June 29-July 3, 2009

In art, antiques and collectibles news, Michael Jackson makes the headlines, a cigarette butt brings in hundreds of dollars and Sotheby’s makes what could be a costly mistake.

From Bloomberg:
Jackson Items Fetch $205,000 in Sale, Top Estimates

Michael Jackson’s death sent waves through the collectibles world along with the rest of the world. Julien’s Auctions had been expecting to bring in $12,000 tops for the collection of the pop star’s friend, David Gest. (If that name sounds familiar, Gest was once strangely married to Liza Minnelli and partook of the same plastic surgeon as Jackson.) The June 26 auction, planned well before the performer’s death, realized more than $200,000 for items such as sheer shirt that went for $52,500 (presale estimate: $1,000 to $1,500) and a Mickey Mouse and Pluto painting signed by Jackson bringing in $25,000 (presale estimate: $1,000 to $1,500).

But wait. David Gest, according to Contactmusic.com, is claiming he never consigned the items to Julien’s and never knew about the auction. A spokesman for Julien’s said the collection came through a third party. Gest, predictably, plans to sue.

From Agence France-Presse via Taipei Times:
Fans of slain Dutch politician snap up auction memorabilia

The fascination that some have with the macabre was in evidence at a recent auction in the Netherlands. The property of Dutch extreme right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn brought in almost $700,000. Fortuyn was assassinated in 2002 by an animal-rights activist. Okay, so the politician’s 7,000 books sold for $49,000 to the Rotterdam library. That seems reasonable enough. But paying $1,200 for the cigarette butt Fortuyn smoked shortly before being shot? Very bizarre.

“Antiques Roadshow” Expert Snagged a Gainsborough for a Song at Sotheby’s

Another entry in our Big Fat Oops Department. This time it’s Sotheby’s on the wrong end of the oops. It seems that the auction house put up for bids a painting that it deemed was by an unknown artist. Philip Mould, who appraises art for the British version of the “Antiques Roadshow,” begged to differ. He realized the work was by the renowned 18th-century painter, Thomas Gainsborough. Mould bid £67,250 ($110,600) and won. He later had the picture authenticated and is trying to sell it for £750,000 ($1.24 million).

So where does the “oops” come in? Sotheby’s estimated the painting at between £10,000 and £15,000 ($16,400 to $25,000). The seller may what the auction house to pony up for its unfortunate oversight.

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