Irita Marriott

Auctioneer Irita Marriott with one of the Bowie images.

Image: @Chloecreativephotography 

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Many people dream of finding something rare and potentially valuable at a car boot sale, but the reality tends to be DVD box sets of 1990s sitcoms and novelty mugs once enjoyed by the World’s Best Grandad.

Proof that luck and a keen eye can bring dividends is a collection of David Bowie photographs, snapped up for £20 at a car boot sale, which are being offered at auction and expected to make several thousand pounds. Taken by Masayoshi Sukita, who collaborated with Bowie for 40 years, the photos have his trademark professional polish, span many eras and include some images that few have seen.

The Bowie bonanza, which includes 64 images and a photographic sample book, is being held at Irita Marriott Auctioneers’ Derbyshire saleroom on July 17. Six of the photos are marked SUKITA on the back, but all are by him, according to the auction experts.

They are being offered as 21 lots, split into Bowie eras. 

David Bowie Image Found At Car Boot Sale Credit Irita Marriott Auctioneers (1)

David Bowie photo by Masayoshi Sukita found at car boot sale.

Credit: @chloecreativephotography/Irita Marriott Auctioneers


The Man Who Sold the World

The seller, a 73-year-old retired manager of a logistics company, from Melbourne, Derbyshire, said: “In 1991 I was at a car boot sale in the village of Whitchurch looking for furniture and knick-knacks for a house I’d upsized to with my partner. I was just rummaging through a stall and there was the box of Bowie photos, posters and a few books.

“I’m a big Bowie fan so, on impulse, got them. I can’t remember exactly how much I paid but it was about £20. I was excited by them but had to cool it a bit because my partner wasn’t impressed! I don’t know where they originated from but, after a good look through and sorting them into the photo files, I realised how good they were.”

He kept the photos in a box and despite several moves and break-ups, paid them little attention until Bowie died in 2016.

“I got them out again recently and just thought it was time to let them go. I had no idea of the potential value or rarity until now,” he said with regard to the sale and estimates.

'Acclaimed photographer'

Viewers of BBC's Antiques Road Trip, Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, Bargain Hunt and Channel 4's The Greatest Auction will be familiar with Irita Marriott, who is the owner of the Melbourne auction house which discovered the photos. It’s one of only a handful of female-run auction houses in the UK and she’s looking forward to the sale.

“We’re so excited about this incredible car boot find. It’s amazing to think these Bowie treasures were found by chance 33 years ago in Somerset and then lay tucked away in Derbyshire for years. Perhaps most fascinating for fans is a set of 10 images showing Bowie in different poses against a clock backdrop. They were taken in Japan in 1980. Countless pictures were taken of Bowie throughout his career but I’d never seen those before.

“If an iconic Bowie image pops into your mind, it’s likely Sukita took the shot. He’s an internationally acclaimed photographer, a genius behind the camera. He worked with Bowie from 1972 until his death in 2016. They understood each other creatively.

"Sukita captured Bowie’s artistry through the decades including his flamboyant glam-rock era alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Sukita’s limited-edition Bowie prints can sell for anything from £250 to £20,000 per image so it will be interesting to see how collectors react to this opportunity.”

The David Bowie photographs will be offered by Irita Marriott Auctioneers in Melbourne, Derbyshire, on July 17.