US Constitution.jpg (1)
The first-edition printed copy of the US Constitution sold at Sotheby’s New York for $41m (£30.4m). Image credit: Ardon Bar-Hama.

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US Constitution will go on display

US billionaire art collector and financier Kenneth Griffin has confirmed he is the new owner of the rare copy of the US Constitution that sold for $41m hammer at Sotheby’s on November 18.

He intends to loan the document to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Griffin outbid a collective of more than 17,000 cryptocurrency enthusiasts who had joined together online to crowd-source funds.

Although they had raised about $47m, their final bid of $40m reflected the extra costs they expected to incur such as auction fees, insurance, transportation and security.

The price paid by Griffin, $43.2m with premium, was a record for any document sold at auction.

Auction buys boost British economy

Rising sales of second-hand goods are helping to boost the UK’s economy.

When the Office for National Statistics released its bulletin for October’s retail sales results earlier this month it noted that although overall sales were up just 0.8% month on month in October, the main sector that grew is called ‘non-food stores’.

This sector enjoyed a monthly sales volumes rise of 4.2% last month. And within that sector, a sub-sector that the ONS calls ‘other non-food stores’ reported the fastest rise in sales of all: 7.2%.

Businesses whose sales contribute to ‘other non-food stores’ figures include art and antiques firms. The ONS says “second-hand goods stores (charity shops and auction houses) had the largest contribution” ahead of sports equipment, games and toy stores.

Einstein takes €10.2m in Paris auction

One of Albert Einstein’s manuscripts has been sold at auction for a hammer price of €10.2m (£8.7m) or €11m including buyer’s premium.

The document contains preparatory work for the physicist’s signature achievement, the theory of general relativity, published in 1915 which revolutionised modern physics.

The 54-page document was handwritten in 1913 and 1914 in Zurich, Switzerland, by Einstein and his colleague Swiss engineer Michele Besso.

It had been estimated at €2m-3m. Christie’s Paris sold the lot on behalf of auction house Aguttes. It was part of the huge haul of works from defunct manuscript investment scheme Aristophil which was declared bankrupt in 2015.

Aphrodite back on sale after 70 years

'The Hamilton Aphrodite’

The Roman sculpture dubbed ‘The Hamilton Aphrodite’ is to be offered at Sotheby’s with an estimate of £2m-3m on December 7.

More than 70 years after it was last seen in a New York auction, the Roman sculpture dubbed ‘The Hamilton Aphrodite’ is to be offered at Sotheby’s with an estimate of £2m-3m.

Dating back to the 1st or 2nd century AD, the imperial marble figure of the ‘Capitoline Aphrodite’ will be offered in its own dedicated sale on December 7.

The statue had been in Scotland for 144 years between 1776 and 1919 and is recorded as standing in Hamilton Palace’s ‘Great Staircase’ in the 1850-70s, and is one of four ancient marbles that adorned the halls of the house.

Of the other three, one is in a US museum, another was last sold at auction in the 1970s in New York, and the whereabouts of the last remains unknown.

This statue has recently been uncovered by Sotheby’s but was last publicly recorded when it sold in 1949 at Parke-Bernet Galleries in a sale of the estate of the late Joseph Brummer.

Celtic war trumpet returns to action

Celtic Carnyx

Celtic Carnyx – estimate £2000-3000 at Dix Noonan Webb.

A rare miniature Celtic war trumpet, otherwise known as a Carnyx which would have been used in battle and ceremonies, is to offered by Dix Noonan Webb on December 1-2. Estimated to fetch £2000-3000, the object dating from the 1st century AD was discovered five years ago by a metal detectorist in a field in Bardwell. Nigel Mills, consultant (artefacts and antiquities) at DNW, said the trumpet has a hollow slightly curved shaft with a snarling boar’s head at the summit with a wide open mouth projecting forwards and a series of curving crests along its back. There is a small opening behind the head which could have been for attachment of a wooden tongue.

“The only known carnyx found in Britain was in 1816 in Deskford (Scotland) and was a lip-reed instrument mounted on a vertical hollow pole with a mouthpiece at the bottom – it is now in the National Museum of Scotland.

“Three carnyx players are illustrated on the famous Gundestrup cauldron, which is on display in the National Museum of Denmark.”

Nagel will open a Berlin branch

Stuttgart auction house Nagel is opening a Berlin branch on November 30 in the former rooms of the Ruth Schmidt Gallery in Keithstrasse. It joins representative offices already open in Hong Kong, Beijing, Cologne and Munich.

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In Numbers


The rise in usage in 2021 of ‘NFT’ which made it the Collins Dictionary word of the year. Collins defines ‘non-fungible token’ as “a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectable”.