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Row erupts over Elgar Enigma score

The Elgar Foundation is calling for the return of a draft score of the Enigma Variations by Sir Edward Elgar shown on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.

According to The Times, the score disappeared during 1994 from Elgar’s Birthplace Museum in Worcestershire. Before that it had been bequeathed by the composer’s daughter, Carice, to the Elgar Foundation. More than 20 years after its disappearance, the manuscript appeared on an episode of the Roadshow filmed last year at Cardiff Castle.

The newspaper reported that after the £80,000-100,000 valuation on the programme, the present owner had asked Christie’s to sell the manuscript. Christie’s confirmed to ATG that the score was not being offered in “any forthcoming sale”.

The Roadshow was broadcast on Sunday, July 8, and on July 9. The Times reported that David Mellor, the chairman of the Elgar Foundation, is threatening legal action if the manuscript is not returned.

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The most clicked-on stories for week July 5-11 on antiquestradegazette.com

1 Calls for Elgar score to be returned after Antiques Roadshow appearance

2 Coin dealer arrested in London following ‘looted’ antiquities investigation

3 Dutch Old Master seized by Nazis sells for £1.6m at auction

4 Record for a Rembrandt print set at Christie’s

5 Dealer launches petition to demand change to government ivory ban bill

Deadline looms for Olympia sign-up

The Winter Art and Antiques Fair at Olympia needs an extra dose of dealer commitment as the deadline to save the event approaches. So far 53 dealers have committed to standing at the fair, which is organised by Clarion Events.

It is earmarked to run for seven days from Monday, October 29-Sunday, November 4, on the balcony level of Olympia’s National Hall above one of Clarion’s other events, the Spirit of Christmas Fair.

However, a further commitment of about 22 dealers is required if the event is to take place. The deadline to sign and return contracts is July 27.

California artist resale act is shelved

The 1977 California Resale Royalties Act has effectively been shelved following an appeals court decision on July 6.

A panel of judges struck down the law – the US’s only ‘droit de suite’ law for visual artists – after finding that the state law conflicts with the federal Copyright Act of 1978.

The 5% royalty applied to secondary market sales of contemporary art has been challenged and narrowed in court on many occasions, and has long been neglected by most of the state’s auction houses and galleries.

However, it is often cited as a reason why the major auction houses are reluctant to sell in the state where so many of their clients are based. That could now change.

The new ruling “basically drowns the act in the bathtub”, says Nicholas O’Donnell, a lawyer at Boston-based Sullivan & Worcester.

He also believes it will quieten calls for pan-American ARR legislation of the type currently operating in Europe.

“There is, for better or worse, clearly no political constituency for resale royalties in the US. This decision isprobably the end of the line for the foreseeable future in the US for droit de suite,” O’Donnell says.

White-glove crop of agriculture books

A white-glove sale of a 3000- book agriculture library reached a hammer total of £1.76m over two days at Forum Auctions last week.


A page from Pietro Crescenzi’s 'Opus ruralium commodorum' sold for £75,000 at the Forum Rothamsted auction.

The top lot of the sale of the Rothamsted Collection: Rarities from the Lawes Agricultural Library was a 1471 f irst edition of Pietro Crescenzi’s Opus ruralium commodorum.

It is the first printed book on agriculture. Against a £60,000-80,000 estimate, it sold at £75,000 (plus 25/20/12% buyer’s premium).

Soviet spy camera takes £29,000

A packet of cigarettes made a house-record hammer price of £29,000 (plus 20% buyer’s premium) at Aston’s Auctioneers in Dudley on July 12. It was helped by the fact that contained inside was a Soviet hidden spy camera.

It was one of about 25 such spy contraptions offered in a large group described as “absolutely the best collection of Soviet cameras in the UK” being sold over two auctions.


The packet of cigarettes that contained a Soviet hidden spy camera that sold for £29,000 at Aston’s Auctioneers in Dudley.

In Numbers


The record for any illustration by Sir Quentin Blake. It was set at Christie’s on July 11 during an auction of watercolours and drawings from his personal collection.

The artwork showing Roald Dahl characters Willy Wonka, Charlie and Grandpa Joe, was one of a series of large-scale watercolours done in 2016 to mark the centenary of the author’s birth.


The illustration by Sir Quentin Blake that sold for £40,000 at Christie’s. Image copyright: Christie's Images Ltd 2018 / Quentin Blake