Mosaic replica could return home
A replica of the largest Roman mosaic to be found in Britain could return home to Gloucestershire where it was made. The original Great Orpheus Pavement mosaic, which dates back to 325AD, was last uncovered at a churchyard in Woodchester in 1973, and a replica of it was completed in the 1980s.
This mosaic, made up of 1.6 million pieces and measuring 2200 sq ft (205 sq m), took its creators, brothers Bob and John Woodward, 10 years to complete. They sold it in the 1990s and in 2010 it was sold again at auction house Chorley’s for £75,000. The buyer was an anonymous collector who had planned to install it in a new villa in Italy.
However, it has been in storage ever since and now adviser and dealer Joshua Sinai of Sinai and Sons is negotiating with the collector to allow it to be displayed on a loan basis in Woodchester.
The Einstein ‘God Letter’ up for sale
Christie’s is to auction Albert Einstein’s ‘God Letter’ – his correspondence to philosopher Erik Gutkind written a year before his death in 1954.
Einstein (1879-1955) wrote to Gutkind after reading his book, Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt.
The letter combines Einstein’s thoughts on religion, his Jewish identity and his own search for meaning in life, and is regarded as the most fully articulated expression of his religious and philosophical views. The letter, estimated at $1m-1.5m, will be auctioned on December 4.
The most clicked-on stories for week September 27- October 4 on antiquestradegazette.com
1 BBC’s decision to axe Flog It! after 17 years is “disappointing,” presenters say
2 Airfix artwork brings bidding at specialist toy auction house
3 Exhibitor mix shaken up for TEFAF Maastricht 2019
4 Table made of Spanish Armada ship parts up for auction at Adam’s in Ireland
5 Where to be: Untangling Frieze and other events this week
Chinese rug stolen from Mayfair dealer
Police are investigating the theft of a Chinese Ningxia rug which was taken from the Mayfair gallery of C John.
The large c.1850 rug was torn from the wall of the gallery and a large Apple computer has also gone missing. The rug may have been used to wrap up and transport the computer.
The rug measures 6ft 4in x 7ft 11in (1.93 x 2.4m). Anyone with information should contact the police and quote crime reference number 6549434/18.
Roman coin hoard unearthed in Italy
Workers charged with the demolition of the former Cressoni Theatre in Como, Lombardy, unearthed a hoard of 5th century Roman gold coins.
A soapstone jar, found in early September, contained close to 300 well-preserved solidi dating from late antiquity, most minted on behalf of the emperors Valentinian III (425-55), Leo I (457-74), and Libius Severus (461-65).
While Italian media valued the find at several million euros, numismatic websites deemed the most valuable coins (those from the four-year reign of Libius Severus) to be worth perhaps €10,000 each, with the more commonly encountered solidi of Leo I and Valentinian III valued at €500 and €1500 respectively.
Titanic ‘return journey’ poster
A rare poster advertising the return journey of the Titanic is up for auction in Wiltshire.
The poster is scarce because White Star Line destroyed as many as it could find after the fateful maiden voyage of the doomed ship. The poster features an image of the Olympic, the Titanic’s sister ship that was often used for promotional material.
It will be offered on October 20 at Henry Aldridge & Son of Devizes, which has for many years specialised in the sale of Titanic material. It is estimated at £60,000–80,000.
“It is believed only a handful of these posters exist today, either in museums or private collections, one of which was on display at the V&A’s most recent exhibition Speed and Style,” said auctioneer Andrew Aldridge.
Rybolovlev claims Sotheby’s fraud
Sotheby’s has described a claim filed in New York that it conspired to defraud the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev as “entirely without merit”.
Rybolovlev alleges he was systematically overcharged on a series of multi-million dollar deals by Swiss dealer and ‘freeport’ businessman Yves Bouvier and that Sotheby’s “knowingly and intentionally made the fraud possible”.
The transactions, which took place from 2003-15, include works by Gustav Klimt and Amedeo Modigliani, as well as Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi that later sold for $450m at Christie’s New York in November last year – the highest-value sale in art market history.
The Russian potash magnate has sued Bouvier in various courts throughout the world including Switzerland and Singapore over the last 10 years although Bouvier has strenuously denied the allegations.
According to the latest legal papers filed in the New York courts by trusts controlled by the Rybolovlev family, Sotheby’s “materially assisted the largest art fraud in history” and “rendered the whole edifice possible and credible”. The claim is seeking $380m in damages.
Sotheby’s said in a statement that it will “vigorously defend the company and our employees against these baseless claims”. It will now move to dismiss the latest court action in New York.
The price paid for a 60-year-old Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 bottle of whisky at Bonhams’ Whisky Sale in Edinburgh. It is believed to be the most valuable item ever sold at auction in Scotland.