The Martin Brothers crab now subject to a temporary UK export bar.

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The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is searching for a UK buyer to pay the asking price of £260,700 (the total price paid by the owner including VAT).

The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) said the licence had been blocked due to its “outstanding aesthetic importance and its significant interest for the study of late Victorian art pottery”.

The crab was sold at Phillips in New York for a record hammer price of $220,000 (£184,000) in December 2018 to its current owner. At the time of the sale the auction house noted the object was subject to a temporary export licence issued.

The decision on the licence will be deferred until September 16 and may be extended until December 16.

Chippendale set accepted in lieu

A set of pier tables and mirrors from the Thomas Chippendale workshop has been accepted in lieu for the nation and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The pier tables and mirrors dating from c.1771 were part of Chippendale’s most lucrative commission: the decoration of Harewood House in West Yorkshire for the West Indian plantation owner Edwin Lascelles, 1st Baron Harewood.

The four elements, that come by descent in the Lascelles family, will settle £5.6m of inheritance tax. They will remain on display in the Robert Adam-designed Music Room at Harewood – the room for which they were originally created.

The suite will undergo a programme of conservation by the V&A to restore the surface finish closer to Chippendale’s original intention.

‘Van Gogh gun’ sells in Paris auction

The gun believed to be the weapon used by Vincent van Gogh to shoot himself in the summer of 1890 was knocked down at an €130,000 (£116,070) at ArtAuction Rémy le fur’s sale at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris. Estimated at €40,000-60,000, it drew a prolonged bidding battle with 18 bids on July 19. It sold to a private collector.

Trotters cheque at lovely jubbly price

The £6.2m cheque that finally made the Trotter brothers millionaires in the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses was hammered down at £9100 (plus 18% buyer’s premium) at East Bristol Auctions on June 7.

The cheque prop is from one of the final episodes of the series, the 1996 Christmas special titled Time On Our Hands. In this episode the Trotter brothers Del Boy and Rodney finally become millionaires after finding a rare pocket watch.

Offered with an estimate of £2000-3000, the winning bid came via

College offers timely bursaries

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has launched a new horology bursary of up to £20,000. Students need to apply to study either its foundation degree in clock-making or the diploma or MA in conservation studies specialising in clocks. The deadline for applications is August 1.

The college also offers a general West Dean College bursary of up to £5000 for which the deadline is June 30.

African-American 1864 battle flag


An 1864 battle flag carried by the 127th Regiment during the American Civil War – $160,000 (£125,980) at Morphy’s on June 13.

An 1864 battle flag carried by the 127th Regiment during the American Civil War – one of 11 African-American regiments from Pennsylvania that fought for the Union – sold for a hammer price of $160,000 (£125,980) at Morphy’s on June 13.

Consigned by the GAR Civil War Museum, the buyer was The Atlanta History Center.

The flag is believed to be the only survivor from the original 11 flags hand-painted by David Bustill Bowser, son of a fugitive slave. It features a black troop bidding farewell to Columbia, Goddess of Liberty. A motto above says: We will prove ourselves men.

Gurr Johns and Bonhams roles

Art advisory and valuation group Gurr Johns International has hired Ben Clark for the role of deputy CEO.

Clark spent most of his 20-year art market career at Christie’s. Most recently his role was deputy chairman of Christie’s Asia in Hong Kong. Prior to that he was managing director and global head of client strategy in London.

Balsamo at Bonhams

Bonhams has promoted Giacomo Balsamo to the newly created post of international director, Post-War and Contemporary art.

Most read

The most viewed stories for week June 13-19 on

1 Only Fools and Horses millionaire cheque sold for £9100 at Bristol auction

2 Sotheby’s sold to media entrepreneur and art collector Patrick Drahi in $3.7bn deal

3 Remarkable Moorcroft pottery collection comes to auction in Evesham

4 Gun found in a field where artist van Gogh shot himself to be sold in Paris

5 Record-breaking Martin Brothers grinning crab barred from export

In Numbers


The record price for a ‘truly exceptional’ presentation copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species… sold in a recent US auction. See Books and Works on Paper this edition for full story.