What fastmouthed auctioneers are saying


"The auctioneer is typically speaking logical sentences quickly," says Barry Baker of Ohio Real Estate Auctions, "with filler words mixed in." Read the rest

Einstein's stinky leather jacket sold for $144,000


Albert Einstein's very cool leather jacket sold at auction today for £110,500 ($144,424). The coat came complete with the pungent odor of the scientist's pipe. Also on the block were Einstein's pocket watch and toy blocks from his childhood. From Christie's:

‘The jacket first appears in a number of photographs of Einstein, taken at the height of his fame in the mid-1930s,’ (said Christie's specialist Thomas Venning). A shot from 1935 shows the scientist wearing it upon his arrival for a holiday in the Bahamas — ‘improbably paired,’ adds Venning, ‘with a rather natty wing collar’...

Over several years, the jacket aged visibly. ‘Einstein wore it all the time — a fact mentioned in the memoirs of fellow scientist Leopold Infeld, who worked with him at Princeton. Infeld explained that Einstein tried to keep material restrictions to a minimum. Long hair reduced the need for a barber and, he wrote, “one leather jacket solved the coat problem for years.”’

"5 minutes with… Einstein’s leather jacket" (Christie's)

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Own a Piece of Houdini

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I don’t mean a lock of hair or a toe nail—nothing weird.

This Saturday, April 9, one of the largest auctions of Houdini memorabilia ever held will take place in Chicago, held by Potter & Potter Auctions. You can download a pdf of the catalogue. And the whole shebang is up on Live Auctioneers where you can also bid on these fabulous items from anywhere in the world.

Why so fabulous? No matter whether you are wealthy or not, you will likely be able to purchase something touched in some way by Harry Houdini, the world’s greatest escape artist and icon of the 20th century, in this auction.

Do you want a lockpick he might have twiddled between his fingers or toes to free himself from some diabolical device?

Or you can buy one of his sets of props that he used for the trick where he swallowed a bunch of straight needles and then some thread, thereafter removing the thread from his mouth with the needles dangling along its length.

There are buckets full of Houdini’s handcuffs and various forms of restraints, including these metal mittens that will set anyone into bondage a quiver; and a display of restraints also owned by Houdini and later used as a lobby display for the 1950s Tony Curtis biography of the escape artist.

Lot 120 features two canisters of 35mm film featuring 26 minutes of clips of Houdini, some perhaps not seen by anyone in 90 years. The frame grabs below are enough to make Houdini collector’s wet their pants. Read the rest

Beatles "holy grail" record sells for $110k

An exceedingly rare and historically important Beatles record sold at auction today for $110,000. The 78 RPM 10" acetate includes "Hello Little Girl," apparently the first song John Lennon ever wrote (or at least recorded). The flip side is a song Meredith Wilson wrote for the 1957 play The Music Man, titled "Til There Was You." Take a listen below. The Beatles manager Brian Epstein handwrote the label on this particular record that now belongs to an anonymous collector.

From Omega Auctions:

This unique 10" 78RPM acetate record featuring 'Hello Little Girl' on one side and 'Til There Was You' on the other was cut in the Personal Recording Department of the HMV record store on Oxford St, London. Brian Epstein had the disc cut from the Decca audition tapes before presenting it to George Martin (EMI) on 13th February 1962 in his desperate attempt to get them a recording contract. This meeting, despite Martin's initial reticence, was to eventually lead to the breakthrough they were looking for. The disc was later given to The Fourmost to record their own version of Hello Little Girl (recorded 3 July 1963) and then to Les Maguire of Gerry & The Pacemakers (recorded Hello Little Girl 17th July 1963). This is the first time it has come to the marketplace, having been tucked away in Maguire's loft until now. Epstein's handwriting on the labels reads as follows: side 1 Hullo Little Girl, John Lennon & The Beatles, Lennon,McCartney' and side 2 'Til' There Was You Paul McCartney & The Beatles'.

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Auctioning off a Rainbow Dash stratocaster-ish guitar for charity

The Dashcaster is a six-string electric guitar themed after My Little Pony's Rainbow Dash, up for auction on Ebay with 40% of funds to benefit Shriners Hospitals. (via Neatorama) Read the rest

Why auction winners are losers

The winner’s curse: "The winner of an auction tends to be one of those who form the highest estimate of an item’s value — and hence one of those most at risk of overpaying." Read the rest

The world's most valuable comic is now on eBay

The most valuable comic book in the world, a fine copy of Action Comics #1 (June 1938) with the debut of Superman, is up for auction on eBay in a benefit for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. Here's the story of its provenance:

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Owner of John Lennon's tooth would like to clone the musician

Back in 2011, I posted that one of John Lennon's teeth was up for auction. Canadian dentist Michael Zuk bought the molar for approximately $34,000 and says he would eventually like to use it to clone Lennon and raise him as his own son.

"He would still be his exact duplicate but you know, hopefully keep him away from drugs and cigarettes, that kind of thing," Zuk said.

Zuk has all kinds of other plans involving the tooth, including a DNA pendant, fine art photos, a documentary film, charity fundraising... It goes on and on over at JohnLennonTooth.com. (NME) Read the rest

Auctioning a conceptual copy of Banksy's thrifted "Banality of the Banality of Evil" to benefit 826 Valencia

A San Francisco artist commissioned a Chinese artist to make a copy of "The Banality of the Banality of Evil" -- a painting that Banksy thrifted, added a Nazi to, and shop-dropped back into the thrift store. The copy, called "The Banality Of The Banality Of The Banality Of Evil," is now being auctioned to support 826 Valencia, a literacy for kids program in San Francisco.

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New record price for car sold at auction

This 1954 Mercedes W196R Formula 1 race car sold for $30 million today. It's the highest price ever for a car sold at a public auction. I hope the buyer uses it as a daily driver. (CNN) Read the rest

Luke Skywalker's pants sold for $36,000

Luke Skywaler's filthy Levi's worn in the original Star Wars just sold at auction for $36,100. The "sand-colored 'cotton drill'" Levi's were customized by famed London costume-maker Bermans & Nathans. "Lot #555: Mark Hamill's Screen-Worn Hero Pants in the Original 1977 ''Star Wars'' as Luke Skywalker" (via New York) Read the rest

Celebration of lurid monster-movie posters

Swan Galleries is auctioning off a collection of 139 old movie posters, including a lot of wonderful, monstrous film posters from around the world, in a collection called "Monsters with Maidens." The auction runs to Dec 18, and though there's plenty of very high-priced items, there are some bargains to be had, too.


The hidden (and incredibly expensive) relics of gaming's golden age

A growing obsession with retrogaming relics has led to a bubble in the auction market, with the most inflated prices commanded by prototypes, unreleased games and rare games still in their 30-year old shrink-wrap.