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Who’s next? Memorabilia from the most raucous rock ‘n’ roll act

The Beatles. The Rolling Stones. Led Zeppelin.

Who’s missing?

The Who, of course.

Formed in 1964, The Who were among the biggest British rock bands of their day, and have stood the test of time with over 100m records sold.

Nine studio albums. A historic appearance at Woodstock. Two rock operas. Some of the most incendiary live performances ever seen.

They inhabit the same pantheon as those rock gods that receive huge bids at auction today.

And yet the market for their memorabilia remains undervalued. How have collectors passed up the opportunity to own items from the band’s remarkable career?

Perhaps it’s due to rarity. The band are well known for their on-stage antics, smashing just about everything in sight as a form of “auto-destructive art”.

This hasn’t left many items for the collectors to fight over, yet rarity is often the fuelling factor behind some of the biggest prices at auction.

Townshend's guitar is up for sale at Lelands

Townshend’s guitar is up for sale at Lelands

Besides, I’d pay a fair sum for a Pete Townshend guitar in pieces – I might even fork out more than I would for a complete one.

The deaths of Keith Moon and John Entwhistle have capped the market for memorabilia from the original line-up, though Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend continue to tour – refreshing interest in the band and bringing new collectors to the market.

So their memorabilia is both rare and in demand, yet remains at prices not befitting the band’s status as one of the greatest of the 20th century.

Yet recent auction results suggest that prices are creeping up.

A Pete Townshend guitar sold for $32,450 in 2008, yet in 2014 it made $63,717 – a 2.4% per annum increase in value.

However, that’s still far behind the prices seen by the likes of the Beatles, with a guitar from the Fab Four recently seeing $605,000 in a US sale.

Our signed photograph of The Who is priced at just £295. A fully-signed shot of The Beatles is worth around £27,000, according to the PFC40 Autograph Index.The-Who-signed-Photo

I don’t think prices for The Who will ever soar that high, but if you’re a fan of The Who, now is the time to buy – music memorabilia as a whole is on the rise, and it’s only so long before the boys behind Quadrophrenia get paid their dues from collectors.

Joe

A shadowy organisation…collecting the Knights Templar

A set of 13th century deeds granting lands in Yorkshire to the Knights Templar will appear at Dreweatts later this month – the largest archive of its kind to come to auction in 50 years.

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The Knights Templar land deeds

The fascinating history of the order has been capturing imaginations for centuries (particularly those of conspiracy nuts) and the extreme rarity of memorabilia is likely to ensure a strong sale.

Legends and conspiracies abound.

But what do we know about the Templars?

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For a start, we know that the order was formed to protect pilgrims en route to Jerusalem.

The name derives from their original moniker: The Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (hence Templars for short).

When the order started out in 1120 it was reliant on donations of food, but within 10 years, it grew rich on charitable donations.

Its power continued to grow after the pope granted exemption from law in 1139.

The orders wealth was diversified through various channels (including fort building, manufacturing and farming) leading some to qualify it as the first multinational corporation.

The deeds offered in the sale date to this era at the height of the Templars’ power.

But all good things must come to an end.

In 1244, the Turks recaptured Jerusalem and by early 1300, the order was forced out of the Holy Land for good.

This left the people of Europe in a predicament. An enormously wealthy, powerful and lawless army without a purpose is a dangerous thing.

It was at this point, in around 1307 that the new pope decided enough was enough and ordered the leaders to be rounded up and burned at the stake.

The legends, including that of the Holy Grail, began circulating around this time and gestated over the preceding centuries – although no hard evidence for any of the conspiracies that dog the order have ever been found.

Tom

 

World’s largest video game collection teaches a valuable lesson

There’s a oft-repeated saying in collecting: “buy the best you can afford”.

Here at Paul Fraser Collectibles, we’d generally agree that’s a good strategy, with the finest items often holding value far better than a collection of mid-level pieces.

Yet exactly the opposite was true for Michael Thomasson, owner of the world’s largest video game collection, who states that he never spent much more than $500 on any game, yet sold the entire collection for $750,000 this week.

Dedication is the name of the game with collecting

Dedication is the name of the game with collecting

In fact, he used his position as a game store manager to simply buy the games for retail price as they were released, proving that patience is indeed a virtue for collectors. He says he limits himself to just $3,000 a year, which affords him around 2 games a day.

Over 11,000 games, dozens of consoles, issued over three decades – that’s dedication for you.

The sale can teach us an important lesson about the merits of collecting, as well as giving great inspiration for actually completing your collection (something most of us have trouble achieving!).

Thomasson states that, several times over his collecting career, the game collection has bailed out him and his family, with a quick sale of a complete run of games for a particular console helping to pay off medical bills and the like.

Without the collection, he’d otherwise not have the money to pay off such costs, and this week’s sale has apparently helped in a family emergency.

He’s been using the collection as a great way to store wealth – an enjoyable investment that’s free from the complications of the stock market.

What’s more, he’s done this several times over the years, and has been able to rebuild his collection each time, still attracting the attention of the Guinness Book of Records.

Back in 1989, Thomasson sold off his collection to pay for a Sega Genesis and then again 1998, to help pay for his wedding.

“I simply have an immediate family and extended family that have needs that need to be addressed. While I do not wish to part with these games, I have responsibilities that I have made to others and this action is how I will help meet them,” he said in a statement.

“No worries, I’ve sold my collection many times in the past and still managed to capture Guinness’ attention, and it is entirely possible that I may again”

So collecting is not only an enjoyable way to store money for those family emergencies, it can also bring big profits. What’s more, it’s worth completing collection of low-value items, as the value of the entire lot with often outperform the individual pieces.

Thomasson - a smart-minded collector

Thomasson – a smart-minded collector

The world’s most fascinating collectible?

If I began talking at length about stamps, how quickly would your mind begin to wander?

Unless you’ve got the bug, I’d probably guess about 30 seconds.

While there are millions of avid collectors out there in the world, for the majority of people stamps are a byword for dull.

It’s a shame that the traditional, unfair image of the stamp collector as a boring obsessive is so rarely challenged.

The fact is, there’s a great deal more to the hobby than there appears to be.

Think for a moment about a world before the internet, before telephones, before telegrams.

Stamps were used to indicate colonial rule, as in this British stamp issued in Honduras

This is a time in which the only method of long distance communication was via letter.

These small pieces of history, some of which are the most valuable items by weight on the planet, exist as proof of nations that no longer exist – of perilous voyages across the globe.

Perhaps the biggest secret of stamp collecting is the way they reveal how the state sees itself.

Think about the idealised racial designs of the Third Reich, the images of national heroes and industrial scenes that adorn those examples issued during the Soviet era and the ubiquitous images of the monarch that essentially acted as territorial markers during the colonial era.

A Nazi era stamp

A Nazi-era stamp showing the birth of an Aryan

 

Stamps cross borders and are handled by people of all nationalities. They act as de-facto symbols of the state and the sheer variety on offer ensures that there is something out there for everyone, from design geeks to history nuts.

A Soviet-era stamp showing an oil refinery

While the value of the rarest stamps continues to grow, now might be the perfect time to get involved in this most maligned of hobbies.

 

X-Men costumes: movie memorabilia worth investing in?

This weekend (May 17-18), Sir Patrick Stewart – better known as Professor X – visited the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

The British actor was there to donate a selection of costumes from the latest X-Men film to the museum’s archives, and to promote the (very exciting) forthcoming release of X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Included in the selection were Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine costume, Ian McKellen’s Magneto ensemble and Halle Berry’s Storm outfit – but where were the rest?

What about Cyclops, Jean Grey, Rogue and other mutant mainstays?

Chances are, they’re safely nestled in a private collection somewhere, and Stewart’s donation is great news for whoever owns them…

With the first X-Men film released almost a decade ago, memorabilia from the movie has found popularity with collectors – a pair of Wolverine claws could set you back around $25,000 nowadays.

With at least half of the most important screen-worn costumes now firmly in the Smithsonian’s hands, demand for the remaining few is sure to rocket and so will their value.

Adding to the rarity is the fact that much of the new series has been completed in CGI (you won’t find any Beast or Mystique costumes outside of the digital world), making real-life props a rarity.

Will CGI eventually kill the market for modern memorabilia?

Joe

Bacon and Edwards

Tonight Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edward (1984) will go under the hammer in New York in one of the year’s most anticipated art sales.

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Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards – Image: Christie’s

The hype is understandable. The triptych is valued at $80m.

This is compounded by the fact that in November last year Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of Lucian Freud sold for a world record $142.4m against a similar, $85m estimate.

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Three Studies for a Portrait of Lucian Freud – Image: Christie’s

Both works are triptychs, are broadly similar in terms of their execution and depict pivotal figures in the artist’s life. In this case, John Edwards was Bacon’s closest friend and confidant.

Each analyses the relationship between the sitter and the artist.

Predictably the Freud is angular, its clashing colours and frenetic composition conveying the rocky friendship between the two men – whose intellectual and creative sparring was legendary.

By contrast, the Edwards is about as serene as Bacon gets.

Christie’s chairman Brett Gorvy described it as showing “an incredible tenderness and harmony that was prompted by Bacon’s paternal relationship with the sitter… this period of contentment elicited a confidence of style that has been compared to late Matisse.”

So are we about to see a new world auction record set?

I would argue not.

Although both paintings are broadly comparable, the work offered in tonight’s sale lacks the sheer impact of the Freud triptych.

However, Bacon stands at the apex of the international art market, making it unlikely that the work will sell for anything less than $100m.

The amount of money invested in art has increased dramatically in recent years and is now close to the levels reached in pre-crash 2007.

Andrew Renton, the head of London’s Marlborough Contemporary gallery and a professor of curating at Goldsmiths in London, explained to CNN earlier today: “We’ve got an economic model which is slightly contradictory. Prices seem to set the value.

“Overpaying is almost the best thing you can do, because you start to define your own market.”

Whatever the result we can guarantee it’ll be more than the £3m ($4.4m) paid for the same piece at Christie’s in 2001.

Amazing grace: Margot Fonteyn’s costumes now selling at PFC Auctions

Amazing grace: Margot Fonteyn’s costumes now selling at PFC Auctions

When Adrian first walked in announcing PFC Auctions’ sale of two costumes worn by Margot Fonteyn, my first response was, “who?”Margot-Fonteyn-410

Call me ignorant, but I had never heard of the dame. The rest of the office were – as I’m sure you are – well aware of Fonteyn and were obviously excited.

A quick Google revealed that Fonteyn was actually one of the greatest ballet dancers ever to have lived, famed for her unrivalled partnership with the world renowned Rudolph Nureyev.

Margot Fonteyn, skirt, ballet, costumes, memorabilia, autograph, collectible, Margot Fonteyn, Nureyev, Romeo & Juliet

Fonteyn’s skirt worn in Romeo & Juliet with Rudolph Nureyev

For years, their immortal performances in Swan Lake and Romeo & Juliet among others had passed me by. Admittedly, I’m not the most dedicated lover of ballet, but the way that Fonteyn moves across the stage has had me captivating from the first demi-plié down to the final faille.

But what really piqued my interest was the fascinating character behind one of ballet’s most beautiful dancers.

Prima Ballerina Assoluta of The Royal Ballet, performing for Queen Elizabeth II, Margot Fonteyn had formed one of the most successful ballet partnerships of her day with Robert Helpmann by 1961.

Standing at the top of the ballet world, she was expected to retire aged 42.

The beautiful jewel-encrusted bodice worn by Fonteyn in Swan Lake - one of her defining performances

The beautiful jewel-encrusted bodice worn by Fonteyn in Swan Lake – one of her defining performances

However, one of the most exciting young male dancers, Rudolph Nureyev, decided to defect from the Soviet Union just as she was due to announced her departure.

Fonteyn couldn’t resist one last moment in the spotlight, and immediately formed a partnership with Nureyev, performing Giselle when he was just 24.

Despite rumoured love affairs with the bisexual Nureyev, Fonteyn had married Dr Roberto Arias, a Panamanian diplomat, in 1955 and remained loyal to him. So much so, that she became embroiled in her husband’s failed coup d’etat on the South American state in 1959, forcing her to return to England from her adopted home.

But Dr Arias had made his enemies, and in 1964 one of them shot him, leaving him quadriplegic. It seems Fonteyn’s desire to continue dancing was not only spurred by her love of the art form, but also by the need to pay for her husband’s increasing medical bills.

She continued to dance until 1979, when she was a remarkable 60 years old. Amazingly, she returned to the stage in February 1986 for one final performance as The Queen in The sleeping Beauty – even then her skills surpassed many of the young dancers that night.

Simply put, Fonteyn was an icon, one of inimitable charm and beauty, whose dances are skill widely talked about today among ballet fans.

I only wish that I could have seen her perform in the flesh, yet the stunning costumes currently selling at PFC Auctions have brought me closer to the world’s greatest ballet dancer than I could ever have hoped.

Discover more about Margot Fonteyn and place your bids here: www.pfcauctions.comFonteyn-Swan-Lake-2

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