Two views of the 18th century Edo period netsuke of a kirin on a cloud sold for a record $350,000 (£287,000) at Bonhams New York.

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Kurstin netsuke sets auction record

The 61 lots from the celebrated Joseph and Elena Kurstin collection offered at Bonhams New York on December 16 included an auction record for any netsuke.

The top lot of the sale, comprising only wood netsuke, was an 18th century Kyoto carving of the mythical kirin – half man, half scaly beast – riding on a wispy cloud.

The 4in (10cm) tall miniature masterwork, last sold as part of the Betty Jahss collection in 1991, soared over its $15,000-20,000 guide to bring $350,000/£287,000 ($441,300 including premium).

The Kurstin collection, assembled over 40 years by Miami ophthalmologist Dr Joseph Kurstin (1933-2021), is among the finest privately held groups of netsuke with elements of its 800-plus pieces exhibited at major institutions from Boston to Tokyo.

The previous high for a netsuke was the £210,000 bid for an ivory shishi at Bonhams in London as part of the Harriet Szechenyi Collection in 2011.

Jewels recovered after museum theft

German police have announced the recovery of most of the jewels stolen from Gruenes Gewoelbe (Green Vault) Museum in 2019.

The recovery follows negotiations between prosecutors and defence lawyers during a trial of those accused of the November burglary.

The $120m worth of jewels stolen from the Dresden museum included a breast star of the Polish Order of the White Eagle and an ornate diamond head-dress. According to reports, 31 of the pieces have been recovered.

Sale offers Spencer House contents


Items from Spencer House stores will be auctioned by Bellmans.

West Sussex saleroom Bellmans will auction furniture and works of art from the Spencer House stores.

Since 1984, the Grade I-listed 18th century residence on St James’s Place has been leased by Lord Rothschild who led its restoration.

During the refurbishment, interior design firm Mlinaric, Henry & Zerduvachi worked with dealer Christopher Gibbs to find art and objects fitting for the property.

Items that have been in storage, previously in use or on display, will now be offered at the sale of European Ceramics, Silver, Jewellery & Interiors running from January 17-19.

Among the highlights are a pair of George III wooden benches and various Regency chairs.

Thompson joins Hansons’ team


Nick Thompson who has joined Hansons’ Bishton Hall saleroom.

Militaria specialist Nick Thompson has joined Hansons’ Bishton Hall saleroom in Wolseley Bridge, Staffordshire.

The former police detective and medal business owner joins as a valuer and will host medals and militaria valuation events every month at the venue.

LAPADA looks to fill fair position

Dealer association LAPADA is looking for a fair account manager. The successful candidate will work on LAPADA’s Berkeley Square fair which will take place in partnership with fair organiser Stable Events. The fair returns after a three-year hiatus.

The deadline for applications is January 6. Send a CV with letter of application to Freya Simms, CEO, LAPADA.

Jingle sells all the way to £15,000


19th century printing of Jingle Bells – £15,000 at Henry Aldridge & Sons.

A 19th century printing of the sheet music to the Christmas song Jingle Bells was hammered down at £15,000.

The eight-page document was published in 1859.

It was offered at Wiltshire saleroom Henry Aldridge & Son with an estimate of £5000-8000 (£19,000 including premium) and sold to an as yet unidentified Christmas themed museum in South Korea.

Henry Aldridge & Son’s Andrew Aldridge said the price is an auction record for a piece of Christmas sheet music.

The song was written by James Pierpont (1822-93) and first printed by a Boston publishing house in 1857 under the title One Horse Open Sleigh, becoming known as Jingle Bells when reissued two years later.

It has been claimed it was written to be sung for Thanksgiving and had no original link to Christmas. But by the 1860s-70s it had become associated with winter and Christmas music.

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In Numbers


The number of years after artist Judith Leyster’s death that she featured as the Google Doodle on December 19, 2022 (in the UK, Ireland, US, Netherlands and Iceland) which displayed a version of the Dutch painter’s self-portrait (the original is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC). Leyster (1609-60) was a well-known artist during her lifetime but was largely forgotten after her death. Many of her paintings had subsequently been attributed to artists including Frans Hals.