Houdini poster

Houdini’s Death-Defying Mystery poster, $150,000 (£120,000) at Potter & Potter.

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Houdini conjures up record result

The star of the show at Potter & Potter on December 9 was a poster the Chicago saleroom is hailing as a setting a world record price for any magic or Houdini poster ever sold at auction.

Houdini’s Death-Defying Mystery made $150,000 (£120,000) or $180,000 (£144,000) with premium added, against an estimate of $40,000-60,000

The linen-backed rarity, 3ft 4in x 2ft 6in (1.02m x 76cm), is thought to be one of perhaps five extant. It was published in Cincinnati and New York by Russell-Morgan Litho in 1908.

This one sheet colour stone lithograph depicted Houdini in his Milk Can escape, crouched down inside the metal container with water pouring down over his body.

It was acquired at the Houdini Estate Sale held in New Jersey in 1981 by a former owner. It was removed from one of many trunks found in the basement of Houdini’s home at 278 West 113th Street in Harlem, where it had been stored in the decades following the magician’s death.

Harry Houdini (1874-1926) was born Erik Weisz in Budapest. His pseudonym was a tribute to French magician Robert-Houdin (1805-71).

British Museum looks to the future

The independent review of the British Museum in the wake of thefts from its collection has been published.

It was instigated by the Board of Trustees following the discovery that around 2000 items were missing from the collection.

Led by British Museum board member Sir Nigel Boardman, Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi and deputy High Court judge Ian Karet, the recommendations published have been unanimously accepted by the British Museum’s Board of Trustees.

The museum said that more than a third of these recommendations are already under way or completed under the new leadership of interim director Sir Mark Jones, including a plan to complete the documentation and digitisation of the entire collection within the next five years.

Sir Mark said: “This is a helpful set of recommendations, many of which we are already delivering on. No one can pretend this has been an easy period for the museum, but I have the utmost admiration for the commitment of the staff to building a stronger future for the museum we all care so deeply about.”

The thefts became public knowledge in August this year when the museum announced the news that the police were investigating.

The recommendations can be found on the museum’s website.

It has also been announced that British Museum deputy director Jonathan Williams is leaving his role. Director Hartwig Fischer quit earlier this year.

Antiquities dealer is dinosaur fan

Statue of a T-rex

The bronze statue of a T-rex installed by London dealer David Aaron.

A bronze statue created through 3D scanning the skeleton of a juvenile T-rex has been installed in London by antiquities specialist David Aaron.

Unveiled in Berkeley Square where the gallery is also located, the new statue, measuring 19ft 8in (6m) long, stands on Nightingale’s Corner in the north-west of the square.

The cast was created in a specialist European bronze foundry and lab partly through the use of 3D technology.

However, the gallery says that artistic decisions were made about the piece often with the help of paleontologists. Skeletons of this size are generally found with missing pieces. Divining what the missing bones looked like and how they fit together, “has an element of artistry about it,” says Jonathan Aaron, director at David Aaron.

He adds that the piece is a “work of art in itself”.

The gallery had a juvenile T-rex skeleton ‘Chomper’ as its starring piece at Frieze Masters this year. The specimen, discovered in Montana in 2019 is 55% complete and its skull over 90% complete. Though it serves as the basis for the new sculpture, the pose is different and aims to capture the animal as it would have moved in life.

Juveniles had proportionally longer legs and arms than their adult counterparts, and they are thought to have relied more heavily on their speed and agility than their jaw strength.

‘The Berkeley Square T-Rex’ is part of Mayfair’s art trail and will be in place until 2025.

See Instagram via @theberkeleysquaretrex

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In Numbers


A Bugatti Type 44, £280,000 at Hutchinson Scott.


The year a Bugatti Type 44 offered at Skipton saleroom Hutchinson Scott was built.

Estimated at £180,000- 220,000 on December 8, it made a hammer price of £280,000. It was displayed at the Olympia shows in 1927 and 1928 as an unfinished chassis/ engine showcasing the new Type 44 mechanics. A year later it was sold to politician Sir Brograve Beauchamp who owned it for over 30 years.