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    If the Cold War relics auction taking place today reveals anything it is that all’s fair in love and war. Deceit trumps love in this St. Valentine’s weekend sale live and online at Juliens in in L.A. More than 400 artefacts used by American astronauts, Cuban revolutionaries and Soviet spies feature in a sale which includes everything from the KGB Espionage Museum in New York  –  almost. A lipstick gun routinely provided to KGB femmes fatales was pulled from the auction at the last minute. Reason unspecified. In the land of spies a kiss of death trumps pepper spray every time.  Never fear. The catalogue offers a huge variety of ways to gather evidence and extract revenge when allies become enemies and love goes south. The pre digital age was rich in methods to place listening devices, bugs, hidden cameras and microphones.  How much more, one has to wonder, can they do now?  Can anything be kept secret in 2021?  In a lockdown world of strained relationships a gun designed to look like a tube of lipstick might be seen in some quarters as a crude though stealthy weapon of surprise from yesteryear. The sale offers lethal purses, a dinner plate with a microphone bug, cameras and microphones disguised as buttons, a Soviet version of the Enigma cipher machine known as Fialka, all sorts of ways of looking and listening to what is going on in hotel rooms, coins with hidden compartments and a replica of the deadly syringe umbrella believed to have been used to carry out the assassination of Bulgarian dissident author Georgi Markov in London in 1978. The auction takes place over two sessions today, at 10 am and 1 pm Pacific Time.  Bidders need to register in advance.

    UPDATE: The auction attracted bidders from around the globe. The top lot was a Soviet KGB spy purse known as “The Fly” which sold for $32,000 nearly thirteen times its original estimate of $2,500. A Soviet spy coin with a hidden compartment made $25,600, one hundred twenty-eight times its original estimate of $200 and a rare Soviet version of the Enigma code cipher machine known as the Fialka sold for $22,400.

    Lot 394 is a replica spy umbrella with a hidden poison syringe. ($3,000-$5,000). UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $19,200

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