Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Monday, October 26th, 2020

    More than 400 artefacts used by American astronauts, Cuban revolutionaries and Soviet spies will come under the hammer at Julien’s Auctions in Hollywood next year. The Cold War Relics Auction on February 13, 2021 will feature the entire collection from the KGB Espionage Museum in New York City. Lots on offer include clandestine operative cameras, counter-intelligence detectors, morse code machines, airplane radars, voice recorders and official government documents. Highlights include a gun designed to look like a tube of lipstick ($800-$1,200), a secret hotel-room listening device or “bug” from 1964 ($300-$500); a Soviet version of the Enigma code cipher machine known as the Fialka ($8,000-$12,000) and a replica of the deadly syringe umbrella believed to have been used to carry out the assassination of Bulgarian author Georgie Markov on a London street in 1978 ($2,000-$3,000).

    This collection was procured by historian, collector and museum curator, Julius Urbaitis, who worked as the consultant for the 2019 Emmy and Golden Globe award winning HBO series, Chernobyl.

    A gun designed to look like a tube of lipstick


    Monday, October 19th, 2020

    Two of Eddie Van Halen’s most iconic guitars will be sold at Julien’s Auctions Icons and Idols Trilogy: Rock ‘n’Roll live and online auction in Beverly Hills on December 4 and 5. “As we were preparing for our annual Icons & Idols: Rock and Roll auction lineup, we were stunned to hear the sad news of Eddie Van Halen’s passing last week,” Darren Julien said. “We are honoured to include at this event two iconic guitars from his brilliant and blazing career as one of rock’s greatest and most gifted guitar heroes”.

    On offer is Eddie van Halen’s 2004 EVH Charvel Art Series electric guitar with maple neck and fingerboard, Fender Stratocaster-style headstock numbered on the back #54, in the unique white and black abstract design in the style of his 1978 Van Halen I guitar. Also scheduled to come under the hammer is his customised electric guitar serial number F 0024. It was built by Van Halen with his guitar tech Matt Bruck at the guitarist’s 5150 home studio. Featuring a red body with white and black stripes designed and applied by Van Halen, the guitar has a maple neck and fingerboard with dot inlays and pointed Kramer headstock.

    The all-star lineup sale includes artefacts and memorabilia owned by some of the greates artists including Kurt Cobain, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Aerosmith and more. 

    Eddie Van Halen’s 2004 EVH Charvel Art Series electric guitar. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $140,800. In total Van Halen’s guitars made $420,055


    Monday, September 14th, 2020

    A a 1968 Gibson Les Paul standard model gold top guitar used by Brian Jones in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus concert show and film in December 1968 and other recordings and sold for $704,000 at Julien’s this weekend. The three-day music auction of the Bill Wyman collection broke a number of records. A 1969 Fender Mustang Bass with a competition orange finish used by Wyman on concerts and recordings in 1969 and 1970 sold for a record $384,000. Wyman’s 1962 VOX AC30 Normal model amplifier made a record $106,250. This historic amplifier used extensively by the Rolling Stones was one of the reasons why Wyman was asked to join the band during his audition.

    “Collecting and archiving has been one of the great pleasures of my life and
    will undoubtedly be one of my legacies,” said Bill Wyman. “It feels like the right time to share my archive with the world. I hope people will get as
    much joy from my collections as I have.” A portion of the proceeds of will benefit The Prince’s Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support and CCMI (Central Caribbean Marine Institute).

    UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $704,000

    2001: A Space Odyssey Space Suit with Iconic Helmet Sold for $370,000

    Sunday, July 19th, 2020

    AN iconic space suit from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey made  $370,000 over an original estimate of $200,000 at Julien’s Hollywood: Legends and Explorers auction. Over 900 items from Hollywood entertainment film lore to television’s past and present golden ages as well as a collection of some of the most significant and historical Space artefacts went under the hammer. The auction attracted fans and collectors from around the world, bidding on the floor, online and by telephone.

    The suit and helmet are believed to have been worn by Keir Dullea, as mission pilot and scientist Dr. David Bowman, in the memorable faceoff scene with “HAL” in the Academy award winning science fiction masterpiece.

    There were two pilot control sticks from the NASA Apollo 11 flight to the moon. One used by Neil Armstrong sold for $370,000, over three times its original estimat, the other used by Buzz Aldrin sold for $256,000. A complete original tool kit flown on Apollo 17 during the last mission to the moon made $102,400, well over its estimate of $20,000. An Apollo era spacesuit glove designed for Armstrong made $76,800, over seven times its original estimate of $10,000.

    2001: A Space Odyssey Space Suit


    Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

    The most comprehensive collection of Steve Martin’s iconic costumes and memorabilia will come under the hammer at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills on July 18. The live and online sale will celebrate the career of the legendary American actor, comedian, writer, playwright, producer, musician, and composer. There are awards, posters, musical instruments, magic props and personal items including his trademark white suit, the arrow through the head piece, 1976 Gibson Flying V “Toot Uncommons” Electric Guitar, Props and Costumes from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Little Shop of Horrors  and more.

    All proceeds will be donated to The Motion Picture Home in honor of Roddy McDowall, the late legendary stage, film and television actor and philanthropist for the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s Country House and Hospital. MPTF supports working and retired members of the entertainment community.

    Steve Martin’s trademark white suit. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $22,400


    Sunday, June 21st, 2020

    The acoustic-electric guitar played by Kurt Cobain during Nirvana’s acclaimed MTV Unplugged performance sold for $6,010,000 million at Julien’s Music Icons sale this weekend. The sale set five new world records for World’s Most Expensive Guitar, World’s Most Expensive Acoustic Guitar, World’s Most Expensive Martin Guitar, World’s Most Expensive Piece of Memorabilia and World’s Most Expensive Nirvana Memorabilia. This makes it one of the rarest and most valuable acoustic guitars in the world. The buyer was Peter Freedman, Founder of RØDE Microphones, who attended the live auction in Beverly Hills and successfully won the guitar in a bidding war among collectors and bidders all across the globe. Conscious that the global arts industry has been shattered by Covid-19 Mr. Freedman plans to display the guitar in a worldwide tour of exhibitions to be held in distinguished galleries and art spaces, with all proceeds (including the guitar) going to the performing arts.

    Over 800 items were sold at the Music Icons event with highlights including: Prince’s recently discovered lost “blue angel” Cloud 2 guitar that sold for $563,000; Elvis Presley’s stage worn ivory macrame belt with accented reflective stones sold for $298,000, nearly thirty times its original estimate of $10,000; Madonna’s ivory satin halter gown worn in her iconic 1990 “Vogue” music video sold for $179,200, almost nine times its original estimate of $20,000; John Lennon’s 1963 handwritten and annotated lyrics to “I’m In Love” sold for $102,400.

    (See posts on for May 18 and May 11, 2020)

    Peter Freedman with Kurt Cobain’s Martin Guitar.


    Monday, May 18th, 2020

    Kurt Cobain’s 1959 Martin D-18E will headline Julien’s Music Icons sale online in Hollywood on June 19-20.  The guitar was played at what would become Nirvana’s most legendary performance in a live taping for MTV Unplugged on November 18, 1993, five months before his death.  Cobain chose this guitar to paint what Rolling Stone called “his last self-portrait”. Nirvana’s acoustic performance that night produced one of the greatest live albums of all time, MTV Unplugged in New York. Cuts from the album, released seven months after Cobain’s death, would go on to become the most celebrated and defining versions of Nirvana’s songs, “About A Girl,” “All Apologies,” “Come As You Are,” and “Dumb,” as well as covers of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World,” The Meat Puppets’ “Lake of Fire,” and a haunting rendition of Lead Belly’s “Black Girl” renamed “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” MTV Unplugged in New York debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard charts and is consistently ranked among the top ten live albums of all time. Cobain’s mastery of this guitar along with Nirvana’s flawless acoustic and vocal performance propelled the MTV Unplugged in New York album to multi-platinum certification and won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 1996. It was the seventh of only 302 D-18Es built by Martin and was customized by Cobain who added a Bartolini pickup to the soundhole. The opening estimate is a cool $1 million.

    UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $6,010,000


    Sunday, April 19th, 2020

    Adapt or perish might well be the mantra for an art and antiques market in a state of flux.  Tough times are sending a strong signal to the tough to get going.  The future will be different.  The pandemic has accelerated the movement towards online sales.  Change has come quickly. Locally, nationally and internationally many auctioneers who had previously featured a mix of online and in house sales are adapting fast to a market where the uncertain future is rapidly becoming less short term. Many report that website traffic is busier than ever before.  Those auctioneers who took the plunge immediately after the lockdown have been finding significant success. True, many auctions have been postponed. As of now the schedule of upcoming sales in Ireland is a bit thin.  In a highly varied market place it is not a case of one size fits all.  Some lots lend themselves to online sales better than others. Those that have gone ahead, often in a revised manner, are demonstrating that it can work, in some cases marvellously well. Julien’s achieved spectacular results with their Beatles online only sale.  The top lot at an online auction originally to have taken place at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York was Paul McCartney’s handwritten lyrics to “Hey Jude”. This sold for $910,000 over an estimate of $160,000-180,000 in an auction which attracted a global audience of registered bidders.

    Contemporary art,  the most speculative segment of the market, has taken a hit in the lockdown.  This proved true at Morgan O’Driscoll’s sale when three works by Jeff Koons failed to find buyers.  Koons is one of the world’s most expensive living artists.  Damien Hirst also failed to sell. Perhaps the time has come to put your faith, and investment money, in Old Masters. Morgan O’Driscoll did have a highly successful sale.  The top lot, Paul Henry’s Celtic Cross in a West of Ireland landscape made €105,000 at hammer.  Other top hammer prices were: George Barret,  Landscape with Figures, €36,000; Gerard Dillon,Shawl, €24,000; Daniel O’Neill, Choosing Flowers, €24,000;  Paul Henry, Mountain Landscape with lake and road €22,000; Tony O’Malley, Clare Island Greys, €19,000;  Louis le Brocquy, William Butler Yeats, €18,000; Hughie O’Donoghue, Medusa Hold €17,000; William Conor, Forty Winks, €14,000; John Shinnors, Roxboro Road bus stop €14,000; Donald Teskey, Longshore IV.  €14,000; Norah McGuinness, The Black Swan, €14,000; Spring Bogland, Ballinaboy by Kenneth Webb €12,000;   Sir John Lavery,  Portrait of William Burton Harris €12,000; Abstract Composition by William Scott €10,500; Patrick O’Reilly, Pegasus, €10,000 and John Behan, Wild Swans at Coole, €9,500.

    Aidan Foley was pleased with two days of online sales at Sixmilebridge and plans more on the May Bank Holiday weekend.  Among his main lots were Spring Evening by Arthur Maderson which made €2,100 at hammer and The Stars Serenade by Annie Robinson which made €1,350.At Matthews 437 lot online sale, which lasted from 6.30 pm until nearly midnight on Tuesday, a Zambian emerald ring made €17,200 at hammer and a sapphire and diamond target ring made €10,000. All of which goes to suggest that those auctioneers who are adapting to the new realities are not perishing.

    Shawl by Gerard Dillon made €24,000 at hammer


    Saturday, April 11th, 2020

    The top selling item at Julien’s Auctions All Beatles sale in Hollywood on April 10 was Paul McCartney’s handwritten lyrics to “Hey Jude”. These sold for an astounding $910,000 over an original estimate of $160,000-$180,000. A vintage Ludwig brand bass drumhead bearing The Beatles logo used at the Cow Palace Arena in San Francisco on August 19, 1964 made $200,000, four times over its original estimate of $50,000. Originally scheduled for the Hard Rock Cafe in New York the sale moved entirely online for a global audience of registered bidders. The spectacular results demonstrate that an online platform in times of lockdown works.

    (See post on for April 9, 2020)


    Thursday, April 9th, 2020

    The original stage from the first Beatles performance at Lathom Hall in Liverpool on May 14, 1960 for one night only as The Silver Beats (their original band name) comes up at Julien’s live online auction in Hollywood on April 10. The auction will take place on the 50th anniversary of the bands break up. The group, whose name became The Silver Beetles and then finally as The Beatles, would play at Lathom Hall on ten more occasions. The final performance there was on February 25, 1961, George Harrison’s 18th Birthday. Nearly 250 Beatles items featuring some never-before-seen memorabilia, guitars and instruments, autographed items, rare vinyl and collectibles will come under the hammer. Other highlights include Paul McCartney’s handwritten lyrics for “Hey Jude”, a Spalding baseball signed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr from The Beatles final U.S. concert in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “BAGISM” drawing, featured in the couple’s 1969 Bed in Peace documentary as part of their demonstration against the Vietnam War, a pair of vintage camel beige wide-cut corduroy trousers worn by John Lennon on the Magical Mystery Tour in the 1960s and a pen on paper caricature drawing of a three legged pirate created by John Lennon for his 1963 book, In His Own Write.

    UPDATE: Hey Jude Lyrics sold for $910,000: BAGISM drawing made $93,750.

    The Liverpool stage where The Beatles performed first ($10,000-20,000). THIS SOLD FOR $25,600