Peace medal
Washington ‘Indian peace medal’ purchased by Colonial Williamsburg.

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US ‘peace medal’ bought by museum

US museum Colonial Williamsburg has bought a Washington ‘Indian peace medal’.

After George Washington became the first president of the US in April 1789, these medals were issued as diplomatic offerings to the leaders of native American communities.

It is now on view in the Backcountry section of a long-term exhibition at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum (one of the newly expanded Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg).

French state buys de Sade manuscript

 Marquis de Sade's 120 days manuscript

The original manuscript for 120 days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade has been bought by the French state.

France’s Ministry of Culture announced the acquisition by the state of the original manuscript for 120 days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade and a number of other items. The purchase was assisted by funding from wealthy individuals who contributed via a tax scheme set up by the French government. They included Emmanuel Boussard, an investor and former investment banker, who funded the €4m cost of the de Sade manuscript.

A set of autograph manuscripts by André Breton bought at the same time included his two Surrealism manifestos.

The collection is to become part of the National Library of France.

The manuscripts were previously declared national treasures by the government and withdrawn from a planned French auction in December 2017. They were part of a huge haul of works from defunct manuscript investment scheme Aristophil. Aguttes had planned to offer them in its first Aristophil auction.

The government then had 30 months to raise the funds to make the purchase before the export block expired.

The 39ft (11.9m) long manuscript of 120 Days of Sodom had been estimated at €4m-6m.

Knighton is now Keys’ picture expert

Marc Knighton

Marc Knighton has joined Keys.

Marc Knighton has joined Keys of Aylsham, Norfolk, as head of pictures. He has worked previously at WH Lane of Penzance.

While studying at Cambridge University, he was also responsible for cataloguing the extensive architectural drawings collection at Queens’ College, Cambridge.

Trio launch The Rostrum auctions

Silver dealer and LAPADA member Mark Nelson-Griffiths (of Greenfinch Antiques) and jewellery specialist Oliver Webb (of Norfolk firm Webb’s Jewellers) have teamed up with finance director Howard Jones to launch auction house The Rostrum in Norfolk.

Nelson-Griffiths will be auctioneer and the firm will also work with a number of consultants who have auctioneering experience.

Read more about it in Fairs, Markets & Centres.

Auctionet acquires Stockholm firm

Online auction specialist Auctionet has bought Stockholms Auktionsverk in Sweden.

Established in 1674, Stockholms is known as the world’s oldest auction house.

The firm has more than 100 employees and is headquartered in Stockholm with 11 salerooms in nine cities including Gothenburg, Malmo, Helsingborg, Helsinki, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Cologne as well as representation in London and Paris. Auctionet was formed in 2011 and works with more than 50 partner salerooms, across five countries.

Fake or Fortune? dates announced

BBC TV show Fake or Fortune? is returning to screens this month. The presenters, art dealer Philip Mould and broadcaster Fiona Bruce, are back for a ninth season to investigate whether artworks submitted by members of the public are actually genuine and important discoveries.

The first programme, on July 28, features a sculpture that is purported to be by Henry Moore (1898-1986). Other artists featured in the series are Benjamin West (1738-1820), Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) and Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (1802-73).

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In Numbers


The total of global auction sales from Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips in the first half of 2021 according to the latest ArtTactic report. The number is up from $1.79bn in the first half of 2020 and $5.7bn in 2019, putting sales at the premium end of the auction market back in line with pre-pandemic levels.