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Category Archives: Collectibles

Man Ray’s objects

In November, Man Ray’s archive will auction at Sotheby’s Paris.

Consisting of over 300 lots the sale will include a wealth of materials from his estate that span his life and career – including a huge array of photographs.

It is the largest collection of his work to come to auction in almost 20 years.

In addition, a number of surrealist objects are offered.

These include a work titled Ce que manque à nous tous or “What we all lack”, which consists of a clay pipe (inscribed with the title of the work) topped by a glass bubble that inverts the world around it.

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This forced new perspective was one of the primary aims of the dadaists and surrealists.

Additional lots include a model of photographer Lee Miller’s lips in gold and two modernist chess sets.

Man Ray’s objects are less widely known than his photographs, as the majority have been lost over the years, but are equally fascinating.

He began working on them during the 1920s. Some were intended primarily for use in photographs and destroyed afterwards, meaning collectors covet those that do survive.

This scarcity is partly explained by the story behind Object to be Destroyed (created circa 1922-1923 and not included in the sale), a metronome with an eye photo clipped to the arm, which is housed in the Tate.

He explained: “I had a metronome in my place which I set going when I painted – like the pianist sets it going when he starts playing – its ticking noise regulated the frequency and number of my brushstrokes…

“A painter needs an audience, so I also clipped a photo of an eye to the metronome’s swinging arm to create the illusion of being watched as I painted.

“One day I did not accept the metronome’s verdict, the silence was unbearable and since I had called it, with a certain premonition, Object of Destruction, I smashed it to pieces.”

Tom

The world’s biggest collection

In some respects Zero Fretas is just like any other obsessive record collector.

He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of music.

He has a beard.

But in other ways Fretas is very different.

Largely because he’s one of the richest men in Brazil – and he cannot stop buying records.

Fretas owns the world's biggest record collection

Fretas owns the world’s biggest record collection

He is the owner of the world’s biggest record collection.

In fact it’s the world’s biggest collection, period.

No one is able to put an exact number on it, but cautious estimates place it somewhere in the region of several million.

At present, he employs a host of people to catalogue it – a task that is expected to take around 20 years to complete.

It’s breathtakingly eclectic.

It includes a copy of almost every record ever pressed in Cuba (around 100,000) and a set of 15,000 polka albums.

While many of his records are unique, around 30% are duplicates. He owns 1,793 copies of the first album he ever bought, Roberto Carlos Sings to the Children.

His mission? To own a copy of every record ever produced.

Fretas is certainly not alone.

The Sultan of Brunei, for instance, owns the world’s largest collection of cars – around 7,000 in total.

That’s an astronomical number, particularly when you take into account that we’re talking Ferrari Berlinettas and Lamborghini Diablos rather than Ford Fiestas and Nissan Micras.

At the weirder end of the scale we have Danny Fleming from Grimsby, who owns a collection of 105 pairs of bagpipes.

There is something awe inspiring about a truly vast collection and the same urge, whether or not it takes on this epic scale, is something that drives all collectors.

We can all relate to that heart-pounding moment when you come across the one thing that you’ve been looking for and equally, the satisfaction that a collection brings.

Tom

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance – my personal picks

Phew, what a weekend!

The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is over for yet another year, and this year saw even more of the world’s finest collector cars cross the block than ever before.

A new world record for any car sold at auction was set by the Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta (as expected!), while Ferrari blew away all the competition.Pic: Bonhams

Just look at the top 10 sales in California this weekend:

1962 Ferrari 250GTO coupe – $38,115,000 (Bonhams)

1964 Ferrari 275GTB/C Speciale coupe – $26,400,000 (RM Auctions)

1961 Ferrari 250GT California SWB Spider – $15,180,000 (Gooding)

1964 Ferrari 250LM coupe – $11,550,000 (RM Auctions)

1967 Ferrari 275GTB/4 coupe – $10,175,000 (RM Auctions)

1953 Ferrari 250MM coupe – $7,260,000 (Bonhams)

1965 Ford GT40 prototype roadster – $6,930,000 (RM Auctions)

1962 Ferrari 250GT SWB Speciale Aerodinamica coupe – $6,875,000 (Bonhams)

1958 Ferrari 250GT Series 1 cabriolet $6,820,000 – (Bonhams)

1959 Ferrari 250GT Series 1 cabriolet $5,610,000 – (Gooding)

Even the Best in Show award winner was a Ferrari – the first time a post-war car has ever been selected.

Now, I know Ferrari reigns supreme at the top of the market for a reason – beautiful cars matched by impeccable performance and an impressive racing pedigree – but they just don’t do it for me.

I’ve yet to get my driving license (hey, I’m working on it!), but if I was to part with my hard earned cash at Pebble Beach, I’d be looking away from the high-end and towards the more unusual models.

Take a look at my top five picks of the bunch:

1937 BMW 328 Roadster

Pic: Bonhams

Just look at it!

For me, the 1930s was the pinnacle of car styling – I like my cars curvy and this one certainly ticks that box.

Even better is the fact that it was made in the 1930s by BMW, and wouldn’t look out of place being driven by a villain in Indian Jones and the Last Crusade.

The BMW 328 Roadster can also hold its own on the track. Upon its release it was one of the most successful sports cars at Germany’s feared Nurburgring and has gone on to become one of the most iconic cars of all time.

1959 Fiat 500 Jolly

Pic: Bonhams

I imagine myself cruising round my huge estate in this one, picking up friends with a cocktail in my hand.

A classic beach car, the Jolly is the four-wheeled equivalent to the Vespa scooter, designed so sun-kissed jetsetters could swan around the seafront in style.

Now a beloved collector favourite, the Jolly sees big bids at auction, with this example coming in at $88,000.

1965 Shelby Mustang GT350 Paxton Prototype

Pic: RM auctions

Gotta love a bit of American muscle right?

This one packs an extra punch in bring one of only two Paxton supercharger prototypes ever made under the direction of the legendary Carroll Shelby, famed for his dangerously powerful machines.

His attempt to “turn a mule into a racehorse”, the result was the 1965 Shelby GT350 – the most successful of the famous line – with this used as a demo car, boasting a supercharger V8 engine.

At $572,000, it was actually something of a bargain for those looking to own automotive history outside of Ferrari.

1966 Volkswagen 21-Window Deluxe Micro Bus

Pic: RM Auctions

What better way to ferry around friends than the iconic VW bus?

This stunning restoration is just about one of the nicest you can find and is in highly original condition.

However, I’m not much of a stickler for the rules, so I’d probably drop in a bigger engine – hey, a man needs more than 40HP to get off the line.

While you can pick up a shabby-chic version for less than $20,000, this example – the rarest variant with 21 windows – had an estimate of $90,000-120,000.

1965 Aston Martin DB5

Pic:RM Auctions

Now, I needed a touch of class in the collection, so I’ve opted for none other than Aston Martin.

The DB5 screams “prestige”, not only as an incredibly beautiful British sports car, but also as the famous drive of James Bond.

I can just see myself now, ejecting my enemies from their seats with a beautiful Bond girl in tow…

Sadly, it’ll be a long while before I can afford one – this just made $1.6m.

by Joe

Collectors gear up for Elvis auction

A major sale of artefacts from the life of Elvis Presley is due to take place at Graceland, his home in Memphis, Tennessee later today. The auction consists of 72 lots and includes everything from his marriage certificate to his front door keys.

Ahead of the event, let’s take a brief look at some of the most interesting lots.

Early signature

The signature is one of the  earliest known examples

The signature is one of the earliest known examples

Elvis signed this library card in 1947 when he was in 7th grade. During that year he was beginning to gain recognition for his singing and performed twice on local personality Mississippi Slim’s radio show.

The piece is one of the earliest known examples of Elvis’ signature, meaning its likely to attract a high degree of interest from collectors.

Shooting target

Elvis was an avid gun collector

Elvis was an avid gun collector

Elvis had an enormous collection of guns. After a number of death threats he carried one on his person at all times, even while he was on stage.

His penchant for firing at the TV whenever singer and longtime rival Robert Goulet appeared onscreen in the stuff of legend.

This target was set up in his smokehouse in the grounds of Graceland, which he used as a shooting range.

Marriage certificate

Elvis and Priscilla married in Las Vegas

Elvis and Priscilla married in Las Vegas

This marriage certificate records Elvis’ wedding to Priscilla in Las Vegas in 1967. The couple spent a total of eight minutes in the chapel before jetting off for their honeymoon.

Ironically it was sent back to the marriage office stamped “return to sender” and was kept by one of the clerks, who sold it at auction in the mid 90s.

Keys

These keys were used in the couple's honeymoon

These keys were used in the couple’s honeymoon

This set of keys for Elvis’ holiday home in Palm Springs, California were taken on his honeymoon with Priscilla. The couple spent a couple of days in the luxury apartment before flying on to Memphis.

A Los Angeles Police Department keyring is a nice touch. Alongside his gun obsession, Elvis was an avid collector of police badges.

by Tom

The world’s most valuable signature

Day in day out we sell some of the world’s rarest autographs.

From James Dean to Henry VIII, if you can imagine it we’ve either got it or can get it.

However, there’s one I can guarantee that we’ll never have in stock.

I’ll give you a clue.

It belongs to the greatest writer in history.

The Chandos portrait of Shakespeare has led some to speculate that the bard may have been Jewish

The Chandos portrait of Shakespeare has led some to speculate that the bard may have been Jewish

There are only six known copies of William Shakespeare’s autograph in existence – all of which feature on legal documents and are housed under lock and key in some of the world’s most prestigious institutions.

If one was to ever sell, it’s estimated that it would go for around $5m.

That figure would increase significantly if it was attached to a manuscript copy of one of his plays, not a single copy of which has ever surfaced.

Shakespeare's will - one of the few manuscripts to feature his signature

Shakespeare’s will – one of the few manuscripts to feature his signature

The extraordinary value placed on his signature is far above that for any other person, a phenomenon that can be explained both by his extraordinary contribution to literature and the air of mystery that surrounds him.

Despite his fame and status, we still known very little about Shakespeare.

The fact that very few records or relics are known to have survived means that there is no market for memorabilia pertaining to him, despite enormous demand.

As a result copies of his folios, printed after his death, regularly break six figures – with one selling for $6.1m in 2001.

Origin story – just who was the world’s first superhero?

Origin story – just who was the world’s first superhero?

If you have a head for comics, you’ll know that the sale of a copy of Action Comics #1 has just been announced.

Without a doubt, Action Comics #1 is the most important comic book of all time, as reflected in its price

Without a doubt, Action Comics #1 is the most important comic book of all time, as reflected in its price

The comic is expected to be the first to make over the $3m mark, with another example – owned by the meme-mogul Nicholas Cage – selling for a staggering $2.1m back in 2011.

That’s the world record price for any comic book. So what’s so special about Action Comics #1?

Quite simply, Action Comics #1 is what started it all. Comic books captured the imaginations of the pre-war population, but until Action Comics arrived on the scene, it was all super sleuths and jungle-dwelling ape-men, not the laser-eyed, lycra-clad crime fighters we know today.

Then Superman appeared with his superhuman strength, invulnerability to harm, ability to fly, superspeed and x-ray vision, changing the game forever. He was the archetype for all others to come, the standard by which all others would be tested.

Yet there is an often overlooked hero that also lays claim to being the world’s first superhero. Devoid of any super powers, he instead gave rise to the classic superhero image – skin-tight suit, masked face and muscle bound.

The super camp superhero look is all down to The Phantom

The super camp superhero look is all down to The Phantom

The Phantom, real name Kit Walker, is the 21st in a line of crime fighters that originated in 1536, with his ancestor swore an oath to fight evil after his father was killed by a pirate.

While many believe he is immortal and his nicknames include, “The Ghost Who Walks” and “The Man Who Cannot Die”, The Phantom relies on his strength, intelligence and reputation to kick butt in the fictional African country of Bangalla.

What’s more, he debuted in 1936 as part of a newspaper syndicate, meaning he arrived two full years before Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster came up with Superman.

The Phantom could be considered the start of the "Golden Age" of comic books

The Phantom could be considered the start of the “Golden Age” of comic books

And for those collectors out there fascinated with the history of comic books, The Phantom couldn’t be a better buy. Currently, works from the early days of the Phantom’s long career sell for around $10,000 – a steal compared to Superman and some of the other early stars.

Even better, as The Phantom made his way through the decades, his looks was penned by some of the industry’s top artists, including Carmine Infantino, Steve Ditko and John Romita Sr.

And The Phantom set for his very own big-screen appearance, with the news announced in May 2014. Hopefully, Billy Zane (who starred in the awful 1996 movie effort) will stay well clear of this one.

The current hype surrounding any superhero blockbuster means prices are rising fast in the collecting market, and The Phantom could be a top-seller before long – you heard it here first!

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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