Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Sunday, July 31st, 2022
    Meyer Lansky’s Medal of Freedom. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $44,800

    IF the weather is fine this upcoming August Bank Holiday Monday and the beach is mobbed an alternative more infamous mob that might appeal to some collectors is available.  Hundreds of artefacts used by some of the most notorious American crime bosses of the 20th century will come under the hammer live and online at Julien’s Auctions on Sunday August 28. Personal items from American organised crime figures who have so fascinated the public for nearly a century that they are practically household names are included.

    Al Capone, Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, Meyer “Little Man” Lansky, Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, “Irish” Mickey Cohen (a New York jew!), Sam “MoMo” Giancana and Charlie “Lucky” Luciano all feature through jewellery, correspondence, firearms, home movies and hand written notebooks.”The Mob: A History of Organized Crime’s Artifacts” features a collection of items from Jay Bloom, founder of the Las Vegas Mob Experience at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino.

    A letter from Al Capone handwritten in Alcatraz to his son “Sonny” is a highlight estimated at $30,000-$50,000 (€29,370-€48,950).  In it he details his experiences at the notorious island prison, reports that he learned to play the mandola and expressed how he looked forward to being re-united with his family in less than a year.There is a collection of home movies and camera equipment belonging to Tony Spilotro, a notable figure of the Chicago Outfit of organised crime in Las Vegas during the 1970’s and ’80’s.  Spilotro served as the inspiration for Joe Pesci’s character in Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film Casino.Something for the moll in your life?  A pair of mobster style  diamond stud earrings that belonged to Virginia Hill are on offer with an estimate of $3,000-$5,000 (€2,940-€4,890). This gangster moll began her career as a courier for the Chicago Outfit and eventually directed smuggling operations, collected intel on rival factions and had a relationship with Bugsy Siegel. If you are of a superstitious turn of mind beware.  He was ultimately assassinated at her home in Beverly Hills.”Irish” Mickey Cohen’s black Spartan boxing gloves are estimated at $10,000-$20,000 (€9,790-€19,580). Born in 1913 he spent time in his teens participating in illegal prizefights and began his life as a career criminal in 1933 in Cleveland.  There he worked  for Desert Inn Casino investor Lou Rothkopf, whose association with Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel resulted in Cohen being sent to California where he became one of America’s most notorious gangsters. Among his famous quotes are:  “All good things must one day be burnt to the ground for the insurance money” and “I have killed no men that, in the first place, didn’t deserve killing”.

    The collection from The Mob’s accountant Meyer Lansky includes four handwritten notebooks telling his story in his own words ($50,000-$70,000 – €48,950-€68,530) and the Medal of Freedom ($40,000-$60,000 – €39,160-€58,740) he was awarded by President Truman in 1945 for his role in Operation Husky during the Second World War.All wars make strange bedfellows. In an unlikely partnership between organised crime groups and the Office of Naval Intelligence Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano were able to assist the US government in the war effort during the Second World War.  In fact their contacts with the Sicilian Mafia helped facilitate the Allied invasion of Sicily.  Through their good offices Calogero Vizzini of the Sicilian mafia led the forces through a difficult mountain pass, provided harbour maps, contacts and assisted in taking out snipers.

    The sale includes Bugsy Siegel’s Smith and Wesson .38 CTG revolver ($20,000-$30,000 – €19,580-€29,370), the only known handgun belonging to the Las Vegas Strip kingpin and National Crime Syndicate mobster.  Meyer Lansky’s bow tie collection is more modestly estimated at $3,000-$5,000 (€2,940-€4,890).The lots on offer in an unusual auction certain to attract a global following chronicle the rise and fall of an era which continues to grip the imagination through films inspired by Mafia folklore and history like The Godfather and Goodfellas.

    Al Capone’s letter to his son written in Alcatraz. UPDATE: THIS MADE $44,800


    Thursday, May 12th, 2022
    Kurt Cobain “Smells like Teen Spirit” Fender Mustang guitar. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR  $4.5 million

    Kurt Cobain’s Fender Mustang electric guitar, Madonna’s Material Girl dress inspired by Marilyn Monroe, the original drum kit used in the pre-Beatle group The Quarrymen and Bruce Springsteen’s handwritten lyrics for “Born to Run” are all due to come under the hammer this month. Popular culture is big business – and in our global village auction houses are cashing in on the big time. Julien’s Auctions, conveniently located in Hollywood, leads the charge. Their Music Icons sale live and online from the Hard Rock Cafe in New York on May 20, 21 and 22 offers dedicated fans of all ages a heady mix. For the information of us non specialists the Quarrymen was formed by John Lennon in Liverpool in 1956 as a skiffle rock and roll group.  Ultimately it evolved into the Beatles.  Another lot sure to attract attention from around the world is a single sheet of handwritten lyrics by Bruce Springsteen for Glory Road, later re-named Born to Run. Kurt Cobain’s legendary blue “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video 1969 Fender Mustang electric guitar will appeal to a different generation.

    Madonna’s Material Girl dress  UPDATE: THE COMPLETE ENSEMBLE SOLD FOR $287,500


    Saturday, January 29th, 2022
    Jimi Hendrix by Joni Mitchell at Julien’s. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $22,400 at hammer

    Joni Mitchell, who has joined Neil Young in asking for her music to be removed from Spotify over Covid misinformation concerns, has always thought of herself as a painter derailed by circumstances. “I sing my sorrow and I paint my joy” she said once.  An artists proof by the singer songwriter of an original oil painting of Jimi Hendrix is one of many highly collectible highlights at Julien’s MusiCares charity relief auction live and online from Hollywood on January 30. Signed and framed by the writer of global hits like Both Sides Now, Big Yellow Taxi and Woodstock, it is estimated at $2,000-$4,000.


    Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

    Property from the estate of American actor and producer James Garner – known for iconic roles in Maverick and The Rockford Files – will come up at Julien’s Auctions in Hollywood next June. The live and online sale will feature James Garner’s 1950s period Western-style costume on Maverick (ABC Television, 1957-1962), two of hisclassic black felt wool “Maverick” cowboy hats, the 2004 Screen Actors Guild nomination certificate for “Outstanding Performance by A Male Actor in a Supporting Role” for his role in The Notebook in 2004 and Garner’s 1993 Golden Globe award for “Best Performance By An / Actor in a Mini-Series / or Motion Picture / Made for Television” for HBO’s Barbarians at the Gate.

    Garner’s Maverick costume


    Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

    Sylvester Stallone’s boxing gloves from Rocky III are among the highlights at the live and online sale by Julien’s Auctions from the life and career of the award winning actor on December 5. His personal archive of original Rocky and Rambo items includes handwritten story development notebooks, boxing gloves, boots and film poster concept artworks. Other lots include a Gianni Versace designed costume from Judge Dredd and a knife necklace from The Expendables.

    On offer is a spectacular array of costumes, movie props, and memorabilia spanning his Hollywood blockbuster oeuvre of his most iconic films, entirely from Sylvester Stallone’s personal collection–the Rocky and Rambo movie franchises, Cliffhanger, Demolition Man, The Specialist, Assassins, Escape Plan, Cop Land, and The Expendables– as well as awards, fine jewellery, furniture, cigar accoutrement, and other gentlemen’s luxury items.

    Rocky III boxing gloves)


    Monday, June 7th, 2021

    Alex Van Halen’s custom designed Ludwig drum kit stage played on over 100 shows of Van Halen’s 1980 Invasion tour comes up at Julien’s Music Icons auction live and online from Hollywood on June 11, 12 and 13. Over 1,000 music iconography featuring instruments, memorabilia, wardrobe and personal property owned and used by the greatest 20th and 21st century’s pop culture icons representing the genres of rock and roll, pop, soul, R&B and beyond will be offered. The lineup of legends includes Alex Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen, Kurt Cobain, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Elton John, Little Richard, Cher, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Whitney Houston and more.

    “This kit from the 1980 Van Halen Invasion World Tour spent 5 years on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland,” said Alex Van Halen. “It’s the only one like it in the world and I’m happy that 100% of the selling price will be going to charity via the Frangioni Foundation and Mr. Holland’s Opus.” UPDATE: THE DRUM KIT SOLD FOR $230,400, THE AUCTION BROUGHT IN NEARLY $5 MILLION.


    Monday, April 26th, 2021

    Iconic items from the career of music legend Janet Jackson will come under the hammer live and online at a three day sale by Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills on May 14, 15 and 16. More than 1,000 lots from her 40 year career will include historical music video attire like the original Rhythm Nation Jacket from her 1989 musical film short worn in tour and costumes and memorabilia from each of her record-breaking world tours.

    Richard Tyler black coat stage worn on 1990 Rhythm Nation World Tour. UPDATE: THIS MADE $81,250


    Sunday, February 28th, 2021

    Anyone for a prototype of Bono’s Gretsch Irish Falcon model 6136 electric guitar?  The Gretsch family, one of the most celebrated names in the music industry, is opening up their archive for the first time to benefit their music foundation. On offer live and online at Juliens Auctions, Beverly Hills, on March 26 and 27, is part of their collection of guitars.  These were used as early generation prototypes of signature instruments by music legends  like Bono, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Chet Atkins, Brian Setzer and many more.  Gretsch has been the premier manufacturers of the worlds finest guitars and drums since 1883. Among the highlights of the sale is Bono’s prototype, which comes complete with green finish, two pickups with The Goal is Soul on the pickguard and gold hardware.  The estimate is $8,000-$10,000.


    Saturday, February 13th, 2021

    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


    Thursday, February 11th, 2021

    The Cold War Relics auction live and online at Julien’s on February 13  will include New York’s KGB Espionage Museum Collection. The sale will feature the world’s largest collection of KGB-specific spy equipment and authentic KGB artefacts from the Cold War. Over 400 lots will be on offer such as clandestine operative cameras, counter-intelligence detectors, morse code machines, airplane radars, voice recorders and official government documents.

    Highlights include a rare Soviet version of the Enigma code cipher machine known as the Fialka, a replica of the deadly syringe umbrella believed to have been used to carry out the assassination of Bulgarian author Georgi Markov in London, a vintage one-thousand-pound carved stone sculpture of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin from the headquarters of the KGB in Kaliningrad, a purse with a hidden camera and shutter apparatus, a machine used by border guards to detect people hiding in vehicles, a German WWII phone tap device, an original steel door from a former KGB prison hospital, a unique portable wire recording machine, and a vintage railroad “Infected Area” warning sign.

    A Russian spy cigarette pack with hidden camera