IN what promises to be a massive test of the market for golfiana, Christie’s will auction the world’s most important private collection of golf art and memorabilia on May 30.
Assembled over the past 25 years by Jaime Ortiz-Patiño, the founder of the Valderrama Golf Club, approximately 400 lots are expected to realise in excess of £2m.
Valderrama have been the major player in this once-booming market and Christie's sale will see the return to auction of many rare items, including an 18th century metal-headed putter previously in the collection of The Royal Perth Golfing Society, which took a record £110,000 when sold by Christie's Scotland in the late 1990s. In May it is expected to realise £60,000-£100,000.
Other highlights include the preparatory oil sketch for perhaps the most famous painting in the history of golf, The Golfers by Charles Lees, which is now in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. It is expected to realise £120,000 to £180,000, while The Golf Course, North Berwick by Sir John Lavery, from a series of works painted in 1921-22 that are the most valuable and desirable modern depictions of the game, is estimated at £200,000 to £300,000.
A comprehensive range of feather-filled balls, with estimates ranging from £5000 to £20,000, will be offered alongside a great rarity; an early gutty ball made by Allan Robertson and inscribed A new kind of golf ball made of gutta-percha in the year 1849 (estimate £12,000 to £18,000).
In 1858, Robertson became the first player to score under 80 on the Old Course - a feat he achieved using a gutty ball.