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Economist breaks online record

A new record for any item sold in an online-only sale at Sotheby’s was set on March 19. The Nobel Memorial Prize for Economic Science awarded to Friedrich von Hayek (1899- 1982) sold for £950,000 (plus 25/20% buyer’s premium).

Given in 1968 for “pioneering work in the theory of money and economic fluctuations”, it led a white glove sale of personal items from the family of an economist still beloved of right-wing policy makers.

In total, more than 1000 bids were placed across the 27 lots – every one selling for multiples of the high-estimate.

Von Hayek’s own annotated copy of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations sold for £120,000 (estimate £3000- 5000) while a lot described as ‘a collection of desktop ephemera’ including his British passport and driving licence and a Royal Doulton Winston Churchill toby jug, estimated at just £200-300, reached £70,000 after 57 bids.

MEPs raise concern over Freeports

Members of the European Parliament on a special committee for financial crime and tax evasion have warned of the art market potentially being used as “a suitable vehicle for illegal activity”.

A report by the committee raised particular concern that art storage facilities known as ‘freeports’ may be operating in a way allowed for a “system that can be used for illicit economic activity”.

Freeports were originally designed as bonded warehouses to allow free transit of goods but have become used as storage facilities for keeping high-value items like art and precious metals over indefinite time periods.

A spokesman for the president of the EU commission admitted that freeports could “potentially pose risks of money laundering and tax evasion” but said that Jean-Claude Juncker had “personally and tirelessly” pursued an agenda against such practices.

Braybrooke locos steam ahead


A 10¼ gauge model of the Great Western Railway Star Class locomotive Polar Star, £80,000 at Dreweatts.

Nine scratch-built scale model steam locomotives from the collection of the late Lord Braybrooke, pioneer of the garden railways, sold for more than £200,000 at Dreweatts’ Transport Sale on March 12.

Many of the models were built for the Audley End model railway by engineer David Curwen across a 40-year friendship including a 10¼in gauge model of the Great Western Railway Star Class 4-6-0 live steam tender locomotive Polar Star no. 4005.

Built c.1989 it was the only locomotive of this gauge made by Curwen and one that, on display in the Audley End estate offices for most of its life, has received little use. It doubled its top estimate selling at £80,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).

Dalí lamps join V&A collection

A pair of ‘champagne’ lamps designed by surrealist artist Salvador Dalí has been bought by the Victoria and Albert Museum. The lamps, each made from ten oversized brass champagne coupes, will be shown with Dalí’s ‘Mae West Lips’ sofa in the Twentieth Century Gallery.

Dalí and his British patron Edward James (1907-84) designed the lamps together for James’s Monkton House in West Sussex, which he renovated in the mid-1930s as part of his attempt to create ‘a complete Surrealist house’.

Following the sale of the pair at auction by the Edward James Foundation in 2017, an export bar was placed on the lamps after the buyer applied for a licence to remove them from the UK. The original asking price was £425,000 plus VAT of £15,000.

Racing Bentleys at Bonhams


A boxed set of 1939 BARC members badges, among the 100 pieces of Bentley memorabilia on view at Bonhams.

For just one day in April, Bonhams’ New Bond Street saleroom will host an exhibition in celebration of the centenary of the legendary car marque Bentley.

The Age of Endeavour: One Hundred Years of the Racing Bentley on Friday 12 April will include 100 pieces of memorabilia, including artefacts that once belonged to WO Bentley himself, designer FT Burgess, and ‘Bentley Boy’ JD Benjafield, as well as items that epitomise the legendary early race meetings at both Brooklands and Le Mans.

In addition to the memorabilia, four Bentley team cars will be on display.

Lewis targets rostrum record

In June, James Lewis of Bamfords auction house in Derbyshire, will attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the longest continuous auction taken by a single auctioneer, in aid of wildlife charities.

Two officials from the Guinness World Record will attend and validate the auction to be held at two Derbyshire venues, starting on Friday, June 21 – the longest day of the year.

The auction is scheduled for 25½ hours, beginning at 6.30pm on Friday, June 21 and endsing at 8pm on Saturday, June 22. To set the record, Lewis must be continuously on the rostrum, aside from comfort breaks.

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2 Star Wars action figure prototype comes to auction

3 George Michael auction at Christie’s led by Damien Hirst’s dove in formaldehyde

4 Famous ‘Fallen Madonna With The Big Boobies’ painting from 1980s comedy ‘Allo ‘Allo ‘returns’ to France

5 What lots caught bidders’ eyes in the last week? Six auction highlights including a Wedgwood vase

In Numbers


The number of people who attended the BADA 2019 fair on preview night on March 19, up by a third on the previous year.