On Friday, a painting by Pablo Picasso was damaged by Christie's auction house and has been withdrawn from their May 15 sale.
The painting, Le Marin (The Sailor), was created by Picasso as a self-portrait in 1943. It was sent to auction by its owner, accused rapist Steve Wynn.
The New York Times reports:
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The unnamed client of Christie’s had been identified by Bloomberg in April as the casino mogul Steve Wynn, who in February resigned as chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts as a result of sexual misconduct allegations. In 2006, Mr. Wynn, who suffers from the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, accidentally put his elbow through the canvas of Picasso’s celebrated 1932 masterwork “Le Rêve,” which he had agreed to sell to the billionaire hedge fund collector Steven A. Cohen for $135 million. The painting was restored and was eventually sold to Mr. Cohen in 2013 for $155 million. It is currently on show in the exhibition “Picasso 1932: Love Fame Tragedy” at Tate Modern in London.
Christie’s has not divulged the precise nature of the damage to “Le Marin,” but following the mishap, the auction house said in an email that Picasso’s 1964 painting “Femme au chat assise dans un fauteuil” (“Woman With a Cat Seated in an Armchair”), estimated at $22 million to $28 million, has also been withdrawn from the sale. This second Picasso had also been identified as being offered by Mr. Wynn. Like “Le Marin,” it had been guaranteed to sell courtesy of a third party.
In an age of decadence, narcissism and shit behavior from well-to-dos that's excused with mutterings of affluenza, it's always nice to be surprised by someone anonymously throwing a large sum of money at a worthy cause.
Before talking about the inherent good that some affluent individual pulled out of thin air earlier this week, we need to talk about The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, also known as the Sioux Uprising. For the uninitiated, it was a brief, ugly piece of American history. The short version of events: The Dakota people were pissed: the United States government had been screwing them out of land, coming up late with agreed-upon shipments of essential supplies and submitting them to unfair trade practices, contrary to what had been signed off on in treaties between the Dakota/Sioux nations and the United States of America. Tempers flared, as they do over issues of trust and sustenance. A group of Dakota killed a party of Minnesota settlers. War between the U.S. Government and the tribes broke out.
38 Dakota men were captured and convicted of war crimes. They were hung in response to the killing of the settlers: it was the largest single day mass execution in American history. By April of 1863, having lost to superior government forces, the remaining Dakota people were forced out of Minnesota as the United States Congress abolished the tribe's rights to their reservations. Hundreds of people on both sides of the war died as a consequence of the conflict.
Fast forward to the present day: a peace pipe with a history that traces back to the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 was included in an auction being held in Boston. Read the rest
What's the difference between a tulip auction, an English auction, a sealed bid auction, and a Vickrey second-bid auction? Preston McAfee, Chief Economist at Microsoft explains auction types.
Bonus video: America's contribution to the English auction:
• The Ideal Auction (YouTube / Numberphile) Read the rest
Psst, wanna buy a lighthouse? As more and more are decommissioned thanks to GPS, the market has seen an influx of lighthouses for sale. Read the rest
On November 11, Sotheby's will auction off David Bowie's beautiful collection of Italian designer furniture and other objects, including his incredible 1966 "Radio-Phonograph, Model No. RR126" by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni. The bulk of his collection going on the block though are 1980s pieces of Memphis furniture. Over at Collectors Weekly, Hunter Oatman-Stanford writes about Bowie's deep appreciation for Memphis:
The name “Memphis” was supposedly chosen after an early brainstorming session, during which Bob Dylan’s song “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again” played repeatedly on the record player. The designers appreciated the word’s disparate connotations, evoking both cheap American kitsch and the regal city of ancient Egypt.
United in their efforts to reject traditional notions of “good design,” the Memphis artists mocked the bland austerity of Modernism by mixing clashing colors, patterns, and materials on playful geometric forms that often masked an object’s intended use. Although their collaborations only lasted a few years—Sottsass left the Memphis group in 1985, and the rest parted ways in 1987—they caused an uproar in the design world. Memphis sensibilities continued trickling into mainstream design via knockoff brands that influenced interiors everywhere from movie sets to high-school cafeterias.
“It didn’t look serious. It looked like a prank,” Bowie wrote of Memphis in 2002. “It mixed Formica attitude with marble diffidence. Bright yellows against turquoise. Virus patterns on ceramics. It couldn’t care less about function.”
"Space Oddity: David Bowie's Secret Obsession With '80s Memphis Design" (Thanks, Ben Marks!)
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A lock of David Bowie's hair sold for $18,750 at auction this week. The seller was Wendy Farrier, a wigmaker who snipped the lock for color reference for a wax statue at Madame Tussauds. No info on the buyer.
"Once hair samples were matched with any figures at Madam Tussauds they were discarded as a matter of course, so there was amusement when I asked to keep one from the selection taken from Bowie,” Farrier wrote in a signed letter of provenance given to Heritage Auctions.
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Banksy's iconic SWAT Van artwork goes up for auction at Bonhams next week. The piece first appeared in Banksy's infamous 2006 Los Angeles show Barely Legal. The hammer price is expected to hit US$300,000 - $450,000. From Bonhams:
Banksy's classic response to fear and tyranny is laughter and in the case of the present work the artist toys with his anti-establishment persona, ridiculing the police not just by depicting a scene in which heavily armed, faceless Special Forces agents are hoodwinked by a small boy but by doing so on the very apparatus of their strength. Banksy's best works combine vicious black humour with a clarity of message that many of the best advertisers would kill for and a rage that simply will not be ignored. His playfulness is the velvet glove that hides the iron fist of a social conscience honed on the streets of Bristol and which found its apotheosis in his breakout show Barely Legal in Los Angeles in 2006...
The present work was acquired directly from this exhibition and has remained in the same magnificent collection ever since, coming to the open market now for the first time. Despite the nature of the sculpture the condition is excellent and testament to the care with which the artist approaches even his most challenging works. This is a work that by the artist's own admission was first shown in a 'vandalised warehouse extravaganza' and yet it is worthy of any museum collection in the world.
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This cracker that survived the sinking of the Titanic will be on the block October 24 as part of an auction of rare Titanic, Hindenburg and related memorabilia. The cracker was recovered by James Fenwick, a passenger of the SS Carpathia that helped hundreds of Titanic survivors who had escaped the sinking ships on lifeboats. It's estimated that this unusual souvenir will sell for as much as US$18,000. From the auction description:
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This Spillers and Bakers Pilot biscuit formed part of the survival kit in a Titanic lifeboat and was kept as a souvenir by the Fenwicks. To the best of our knowledge its the only example to have survived. 3½ins. x 4ins.
It is sold in a photographic envelope with original notation from Mr Fenwick, "Pilot biscuit from Titanic lifeboat April 1912."
One of Princess Leia's slave bikinis she actually wore in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi sold for $96,000 at auction yesterday. No news on who bought it. The costume came complete with the collar and several links in the chain Leia used to strangle Jabba the Hutt. A 16" model of Leia's Blockade Runner seen in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope went for $450,000, the highest auction price ever for Star Wars memorabilia ever.
Other items sold in the same Profiles In History auction include one of Indiana Jones's bull whips ($204,000) and George Reeves's Superman costume from the 1950s TV series ($216,000).
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A rare Enigma machine, the proto-computer used by the Nazis to send codes during World War II, just sold at auction for $233,000 to an unnamed buyer. Of course, the Enigma code was cracked by Alan Turing and the other cypherpunks at Bletchley Park. Read the rest
Paul Dini is having a garage sale, and you're invited. No, it's not for charity, and these are not big ticket items, it's just, in his words, "Original art, collectibles, One-of-a-kind pieces, animation memorabilia, costumes, and generic crap I don't want to pay storage fees on anymore." It's his collection of mostly unopened toys and action figures; but to geeks, these are Paul Dini's toys! Dini is somewhat of a towering figure in the superhero world for his work as a animation and comic book writer and creator. In addition to being part of the core team of writers on Lost, he is a five-time Emmy award winner, as well as the Eisner award, Harvey Award and several Annie Awards. Now his toys can be yours!
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On Sunday, the hallowed nonprofit Henry Miller Memorial Library in magical Big Sur, California will auction off large slabs of old-growth redwood sliced from a 200-foot, 500-year-old tree that fell on the site a couple years ago.
Here's library staff member Mike Scutari recounting the tree's topple:
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Hurry, hurry, this is your chance to own the Toshiba Satellite Pro that President Bill Clinton used to email John Glenn in space on November 6, 1998. Apparently, the laptop belonged to a member of Clinton's medical staff who helped the president send the email to orbit. The laptop is listed at $125,000. Wonder how much RAM is in it. "Bill Clinton computer -Presidential email on it, to John Glenn in space!" Read the rest
Here is Heritage Auctions' description for the Gibeon Mask -- "an incomparable iron meteorite"
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Closing out the Gibeon section is arguably the most aesthetic iron meteorite known to exist. In 1992, indigenous tribesmen in Namibia's Kalahari recovered this matchless specimen with the aid of a metal detector. It is extremely rare for meteorites to have naturally formed holes, and rarer still when the holes are positioned in the matrix in such a way as to yield a magnificent aesthetic specimen-let alone the highly zoomorphic example seen here. Defined by the two adjacent hollows that perforate its mass and separated by perfectly sculpted ridges, there is an exquisite asymmetric balance between this meteorite's two sides: the outward flanging of one side is offset by the larger hollow and more prominent opposing crest.
In addition to the mechanisms involved in the shaping of aesthetic iron meteorites described in the previous lot, there is one other critical detail that was of particular significance to the current example: the moment of extraction from beneath the Earth's surface. If removed several hundred years earlier, this specimen would not have been the perfectly singular zoomorphic evocation before us. If removed several hundred years later, the holes would be far too large and outsized. Adorned with a sumptuous natural patina from its stay in the Kalahari and accompanied by a custom armature and Lucite dome, this is an incomparable meteorite from the finest collection of aesthetic iron meteorites in the world. 195 x 212 x 177mm (7.66 x 8.33 x 7 inches) and 9.37 kilograms (20.66 pounds)
Provenance: The Macovich Collection, New York City.
You could be the new owner of Bonnie & Clyd's personal pistols, Bugsy Siegel's Nevada Project Corporation stock certificate, or a subpoena signed by Wyatt Earp. This Sunday, RR Auction is holding an "American Gansters, Outlaws, and Lawmen" auction with those fine artifacts and many more criminal curiosities. "Bonnie and Clyde's guns go up for auction" Read the rest
Remember the balloon boy hoax of 2009? Richard and Mayumi Heene claimed their 6-year-old son had floated away in the saucer-shaped contraption only to later be revealed hoaxsters trying to land a reality TV show. Soon, you'll be able to own a piece of the prank. Michael Fruitman of Mike's Stadium Sportcscards in Denver, Colorado paid Heene's attorney $2500 for the saucer at auction. He's putting it on display for a bit before chopping it up for "souvenirs." "Balloon Boy Saucer To Go On Display In Colo. Store" Read the rest
This Sunday, an auction house in Ireland will sell off what is said to be the head of St Vitalis, patron saint of genital diseases. St Vitalis was canonized for "numerous miracles performed on those with bladder and genital disorders."
The head sat for many years in the family hall in County Louth, but was recently uncovered in an outhouse.
Mr Matthews said that although he couldn't be certain it was the head of a saint: "It's certainly ancient, and it's certainly the head of somebody."
The Holy Cross Monastery, a Benedictine order in Rostrevor, County Down, did not even know who St Vitalis was, and after an internet search, declined to comment further on the matter of his or anyone else's severed head.
Severed head of patron saint of genital disease on sale
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