Weekly News Roundup: March 2-6, 2009

Topping art, antiques and collectibles headlines heading into the weekend are a 1823 copy of the Declaration of Independence up for sale in North Carolina, a rare stamp sells for six figures, an end (it can be hoped) to the controversy surrounding the sale of Gandhi’s personal items and some of the most skin-crawling, spine-tingling notes of music ever written for film head to the auction block later this month.

From The Burlington (N.C.) Times News:
Local auction house will sell Declaration copy

Burlington, N.C.-based Raynors’ Historic Collectibles Auction is putting an 1823 copy of the Declaration of Independence up for sale on behalf of a Salt Lake City, Utah, nonprofit organization. In 1820, John Quincy Adams requested that 200 copies be made of the original declaration—which was already rapidly deteriorating—using a wet-ink transfer process. The copy up for sale is one of 38 known to still exist from the set of 200 originally made. It was sold two years ago for $477,650, and auction house owner, Robert Raynor. expects it to sell for at least that much this time around.

From BBC News:
Rare stamp auctioned for £184,000

The rare 1918 inverted Jenny stamp reported on earlier this week sold Wednesday for £184,000 ($259,000), about $48,000 more than expected. Originally, one man owned the entire sheet of 100 misprinted stamps, but as early as the 1940s, the individual blue-and-red stamps were being sold for thousands of dollars each.

From The New York Times:
Despite Outcry, Gandhi Items Sell for $1.8 Million

After much drama and dispute, the sale of personal items once belonging to Gandhi went through yesterday in New York to the tune of $1.8 million. Though Paul Otis, the previous owner of the items, tried to stop the sale at the last minute, Antiquorum Auctioneers elected to proceed. The winning bidder was Vijay Mallya, an Indian business mogul, who says he plans to return the items to India. Otis had tried to reach a compromise with the Indian government over the ownership of the eyeglasses, sandals, bowl, plate and pocket watch that once belonged to the leader of the country’s peaceful independence movement but failed to come to a conclusion in time for the gavel to hit the auction block.

From The Australian:
Score from horror classic Psycho up for sale at Bonhams

An autographed manuscript of the “Psycho” musical score will be on the auction block at Bonhams in London on March 24. Bernard Herrmann’s music in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 horror film left quite an impression on terrified audiences, especially with its screeching violins during Janet Leigh’s infamous shower scene. Part of a larger sale of Herrmann’s work, the “Psycho” manuscript is expected to fetch close to $89,000.

From The Associated Press:
Michael Jackson sues auction house for sale plans

Since November, Julien’s Auction House has been planning a multiday sale of thousands of Michael Jackson’s belongings—which is why Darren Julien was surprised on Wednesday to hear of a lawsuit filed by Jackson’s company, MJJ Productions, to stop the sale. The suit claims that Jackson never received a promised inventory of the items that were to be included in the sale and that Jackson never gave the auction house permission to sell the items that he earlier authorized Julien’s to remove from Neverland Ranch. Julien says Jackson has cleared everything up until this point, and, until a few days ago, they were working closely with Jackson’s managers on details of the sale.

From The New York Times:
India Rejects Owner’s Proposal on Gandhi Items

With 40 registered bidders, the sale of several of Mahatma Gandhi’s personal items will proceed as scheduled today, despite the owner’s offer to the Indian government that would have stopped the auction. James Otis, who legally acquired the eyeglasses, pocket watch, bowl, plate and sandals, offered to donate the items to India if the country promised to increase its spending to alleviate the plight of its poor citizens or organize a traveling exhibition of the items to promote Gandhi’s peaceful ideals. India rejected Otis’ offer and is scrambling to find a way to stop the sale.

From Auction Central News:
Billion dollar money displayed at March 13–15 Money Show in Portland

The American Numismatic Association National Money Show next weekend in Portland, Ore., is slated to feature a number of rare and priceless U.S. coins and bills. Among the headliners are a 1913 Liberty Head nickel (insured for $3 million), the 1845 “Portland Penny,” an 1835 silver dollar (insured for $3.5 million) and a display of two dozen $100,000 bills.

From Bloomberg:
Smirking Madoff Portrait for $100,000 Finds No Buyers at Armory

It’s no secret that disgraced financier Bernie Madoff has more enemies than friends these days. A 7-foot-wide painting of a smirking Madoff didn’t get a single inquiry at the Armory Show in New York on Wednesday, much less any interested buyers. With the recession like a dark cloud over the show, the mood was markedly somber compared to previous years’ exciting atmospheres. The Armory Show runs through Sunday in Manhattan.

From Forbes:
Asian Art Sales Offer Buying Opportunity

Due somewhat to recent controversy over the provenance and legality of the sale of certain Chinese antiques, dealers and auction houses are quietly anticipating the upcoming Asia Week sales. Those looking for deals can certainly find them—thanks to diminishing interest in buying, collectors can grab stellar pieces with ridiculously low estimates. One example: a Chinese porcelain vase from the Yongzheng period, of which only two exist. With a presale estimate of $100,000 to $150,000, one expert believes it could sell for as much as $2-3 million.

From myfinances.co.uk:
Alternative investments: Art, antiques, wine and anything odd?

With stocks and investments falling every day, more savvy investors are banking on antiques, fine art and other “recession proof” items. As prices drop on big-ticket items, collectors are swooping in to buy long-term investments like jewelry and silver. The experts’ advice: Know the market, buy what you like at the highest quality you can afford, and insure your purchases.

From The New York Times:
Despite Protests, Gandhi Auction Is to Go On

According to Antiquorum auctioneers, the planned sale of several items that belonged to Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi will proceed as scheduled on Thursday despite appeals from the Indian government. The pocket watch, glasses, sandals and bowl have become the center of controversy as Gandhi’s grandson, Tushar Gandhi, first denounced the auction and has come up short so far in his attempt to raise enough money to purchase the items.

From artdaily:
Sotheby’s To Offer a Newly Discovered Painting by Johann Zoffany in its Gianni Versace Sale

First it was Yves Saint Laurent, now it’s Gianni Versace. Objects from the late designer’s Lake Como estate will be auctioned off March 18 at Sotheby’s London, and the 550 lots of antique furniture, sculpture and silver works, and paintings are expected to sell for a total of £2 million ($2.83 million). One notable piece in the group is a previously unknown painting by Johann Zoffany, a German-born artist whose creative output peaked when he lived in England in second half of the 18th century. Despite being in Versace’s collection for 15 years, the painting—titled Portrait of Major George Maule, Acting Chief Engineer of Madras (1751-1793)—was never cataloged. Its presale estimate is £40,000–60,000 ($56,700–85,000).

From The New York Times:
In a Historical House, an Auction of Lincoln Memorabilia

If you’re a collector of Lincolniana, now is the time to stock up. Several auction houses are putting on sales of Abraham Lincoln items, including a 19-lot sale at Cohasco in Yonkers, N.Y., which last week featured some of the last photographs taken of the president as well as bronze lamps used at his wedding to Mary Todd. Rarity plays a big part in the appeal of Lincolniana, as do the multiple comparisons as of late between Lincoln and the current president.

From The Guardian (UK):
Kray twins’ paintings sell for £12,200 at auction

London’s infamous gangsters, the Kray brothers, had an artistic side. Following last month’s auction of the twins’ belongings, eight paintings that Ronnie and Reggie Kray created when they were serving time in jail sold Monday for a total of £12,200 ($17,000). The highest-selling painting features the brothers, clad in top hats and suits, crossing an open field.

From The Associated Press via Auction Central News:
Rare U.S. ‘upside-down’ stamp to be auctioned on Wednesday

A rare U.S. 1918 Jenny stamp will be up for auction in Warwick, England, this week and is expected to bring in at least $215,000. The 24-cent stamp, only one of 100 printed upside down, features a Curtiss JN-4 Jenny biplane and is one of the most famous stamps in the world. Last October, another inverted Jenny stamp sold for $388,125.

From The Atlanta Business Chronicle:
WorthPoint gets $1 million

WorthPoint received a mention in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The article details WorthPoint’s agreement with Canada-based Terapeak, future plans for product development for the site and its services for collectors of fine art, antiques and collectibles.

From The Associated Press:
Chinese man bids but won’t pay for looted bronzes

The mystery caller who bid $36 million for disputed Qing bronzes is no longer a mystery. He is Cal Mingchao, an auction-house owner who never intended to pony up payment for the sculptures in the Yves Saint Laurent collection that China claimed were looted national treasures. Saint Laurent’s partner, Pierre Berge, has indicated that the pieces would be returned to China if that country showed a better record on human rights.

From The New York Times:
Is Anybody Buying Art These Days?

An informative, if long article on the Mugrabi family, which may own the world’s most extensive art collection worth more than any other private one in the world.

Elizabeth Hendley is a WorthPoint writer based in Seattle.

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