Chronology : 1480-1499 1939
Mamluk - A Damascened Shirt of Mail
2015 SOLD for $ 2.3M including premium
On December 5 in Rock Island IL, Rock Island Auction Company sells a Mamluk shirt of mail and plate, lot 1262estimated in excess of $ 200K.
The weaving of this garment is the simplest and most effective model where each ring is linked with its four surrounding rings. The coat opens from the front side. At the front and back of the garment, the plates are inlaid with a gilding of koftgari type.
Inscriptions are difficult to read, but the reference to the Mamluk Sultan Qaitbay seems indisputable. It was probably created for the sultan himself or one of his riders. A similar armor assigned to the same reign is preserved at the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul. Qaitbay ruled Egypt from 871 to 901 AH, during the last quarter of the 15th century of our calendar.
This piece is in a very satisfactory condition for its age. A few rings and a few plate rivets are missing or twisted. About 60% of the koftgari is present with a particularly good conservation on the front of the shirt.
Qianlong - The Pearl Robes
2006 SOLD for HK$ 14.7M including premium by Sotheby's
Making a pearl robe takes a considerable effort and skill even when the surface embroidered in this technique remains small. The goal is to spark some figures like the imperial dragons. The tiny pearls chosen for their homogeneity are drilled to pass the silk thread.
The jifu is not a formal dress but is used for pleasure celebration like a birthday, a wedding, the first day of the year or a solstice. When it is intended for the use of a member of the imperial family, it is decorated with imperial dragons on a bright yellow background in satin. The themes of good auspices are profusely illustrated.
This robe is modeled on a Manchu garment and it pleases the Qing. A daughter of Kangxi brought as a dowry in 1691 of our calendar a robe embroidered with 100,000 beads which was discovered in 1976 in the tomb of her husband. Yongzheng stated a profound disapproval against the pearl dresses considered as an unnecessary luxury encouraging the corruption of donor courtiers.
Qianlong's position was less clear as some pearl robes were made during his reign for imperial use. One of them was sold for HK $ 14.7M including premium by Sotheby's in Hong Kong on 10 April 2006, lot 1540. It is back in the same auction place onOctober 5, lot 3307 estimated HK $ 20M.
Dragons are embroidered with multicolored pearls and the lesser figures are made of three more usual techniques of embroidery stitches. Some of the secondary figures are constituting the Twelve Symbols of Imperial Authority that were introduced by Qianlong in his imperial regalia in 1759 of our calendar.
1877 The War Shirt of Chief Joseph
2012 SOLD 880 K$ including premium
In their next sale on July 21 in Reno, the lot with the top estimate, $ 800K, is neither a painting nor a sculpture but the war shirt of an Indian chief.
Around 1877, relations between Native Americans and whites are violent and ambiguous. Chief Joseph, the second of that name, was using the name of his Christianized father, who had been baptized. He tried in vain to protect the territory of his tribe, the Nez Perce, against decisions of the federals.
His war shirt is typical, very colorful, shaped like a poncho with fringes and beadworks. It is made of two pieces of skin, probably of a deer. It appeared without attribution about twenty years ago and was authenticated through a photo taken just after the capture of Joseph in 1877.
The correlation with a photo is a major asset for this type of cloth. It helped to push up to $ 2.65 million including premium the shirt of Sioux chief Black Bird, at Sotheby's on May 18, 2011. Yet this one was later: in 1899, tourism had superseded the heroic times. Before the sale, the Sioux shirt had been estimated $ 250K.
Masterpieces of Native American textile art are highly sought, and this is certainly a good decision to sell the shirt of Chief Joseph in the Great West. At Pasadena on June 19, John Moran sold $ 1.8 million including premium a rare Navajo blanket weaved before 1870, which had been estimated $ 100K.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result, $ 750K hammer price, did not reach the estimate but is still very good as this shirt is less sumptuous than Black Bird's garment reminded above as the top reference.
The auction fetched $ 17M including premium.
It is interesting to note that the top result, $ 850K hammer, 980K including premium, rewards this time a contemporary artwork: Scout's report, oil on canvas 80 x 120 cm painted in 1988 by Howard Terpning.
The photo of the shirt is shared post sale by Artdaily. The price including premium is $ 880K.
1920 The Jersey of the Babe
2012 SOLD 4.4 M$ including premium
The sale by SCP Auctions on May 19, online from California, of a wool jersey of the Babe is indeed a considerable event. Two weeks before the auction ends, this lot has already surpassed Lou Gehrig's jersey sold for $ 717K including premium by Heritage on November 5, 2010.
Moreover this jersey dates from an exceptional period in Ruth's career and is in very good condition. It is marked NEW YORK, which makes sense for this sportsman. However, Ruth had made the success of the Boston Red Sox before being transferred in 1920 to the New York Yankees.
The jersey has retained its original identification with the name of Ruth. A photo of the champion made in March 1920 shows him with a jersey identical as the example to be sold, confirming, if not the year, at least the period when the garment was made by Spalding and worn by Ruth.
Here is the link to the press release shared by AuctionReport.
POST SALE COMMENT
The prices of the rarest pieces have no predictable limit. Babe Ruth's jersey was sold $ 3.7 million before fees, 4.4 million including premium.
The memorabilia from Babe Ruth provided two other notable results: $ 590K including premium for a bat and $ 540K including premium for a cap.
This sale was also very successful for baseball cards from the 1950s in mint condition (PSA10): $ 430K including premium for Roberto Clemente, and $ 360K including premium for Hank Aaron.
For post WWII baseball, let us also mention a jersey worn by Mickey Mantle in 1968, sold $ 370K including premium.
BABE RUTH BIRTHDAY: Today on January 6 1895 the greatest player to play the game of Baseball was born. Here is the best piece of Ruthian memorabilia sold by @SCPAuctions for $4,415,658 World record for a piece of sports memorabilia #Baberuth @baseballhall @Yankees @MLB #MLB pic.twitter.com/Z5BL5bA2DF— SCP Auctions (@SCPAuctions) February 6, 2018
1937 All the Honors for the Iron Horse
2017 SOLD for $ 870K including premium
On May 2, 1939, after one year and a half of worsening of his physical condition, Lou renounces to play. From June 1, 1925 to April 30, 1939 he had realized with the Yankees the sensational performance of 2,130 consecutive games in major league. Nicknamed The Iron Horse he was an example for the youth in the sequel to Christy Mathewson. His number 4 was withdrawn on 4 July 1939 by the Yankees.
On July 4, 1941, five weeks after his death, Gehrig was the first player and the second person after the manager Miller Huggins to be honored with a monument at Yankee Stadium Monument Park.
The image in his plaque and in the 1941 ceremony ticket is copied from a photo made in 1937. The attitude, both smiling and melancholic, is typical of the great player, as if waiting for his desperate fate.
The flannel jersey worn by Lou Gehrig on this photo and visible on the plaque and on the ticket was retrieved. It had been worn out and modified through about 40 games with the champion in 1937 followed by an unregistered but probably intensive use in a farm club. A NY mark conforming to its 1937 drawing was sewn close to the location of the original mark that had been removed.
The photo-matching is beyond question. This jersey graded 6.5 by Mears has the value of a relic. It is estimated $ 800K for sale by Heritage online from Dallas on August 19 with an extended bidding phase, lot 80004.
1939 The Skin of the Cowardly Lion
2014 SOLD for $ 3.1M including premium
This lion is a friend of Dorothy. He sings and dances while dreaming to find some courage and to become the king of the forest. The role was played by the burlesque actor Bert Lahr. He needed some toughness to play within this outfit because the skin is thick and heavy.
The costume was made from a real lion's hide. The realization was difficult because the technicians quickly appreciated that these animals are all different, excluding the possibility to use a spare habit. Two costumes of Cowardly Lion were made, but only one was used in the filming.
The screen used costume was acquired by a specialist who adorned it with a molded head of Bert Lahr's son. It was unsold in December 2011 at auction in Beverly Hills on an estimate of $ 2M.
It is now listed by Bonhams on November 24 in New York,lot 128.
A photo of Bert Lahr in the lion's skin is shared by Wikimedia:
1939 Dorothy in Technicolor
2015 SOLD for $ 1.56M including premium
This costume is now estimated $ 800K for sale by Bonhams in New York on November 23, lot 67.
In the mean time a prop from the same movie achieved a great auction result when a skin of the Cowardly Lion was sold for $ 3.1M including premium by Bonhams on November 24, 2014.
The discussion below is based on my 2012 post with an additional comment concerning color movies.
A dream world can not become obsolete because, since its inception, it is timeless. Released in 1939, The Wizard of Oz became the most watched film in the history of cinema.
The new Alice is named Dorothy, played by Judy Garland with her long braids of a young girl. Her blue dress with a tight pattern of small squares, consisting of a schoolgirl apron and a skirt, becomes the thread of the human emotions in a crazy world.
Its light blue color in strong contrast with the costumes of the other characters is intended to demonstrate the recent progress of the Technicolor process that had been criticized for its too saturated rendition of colors.
The dress for sale is complete of its apron, bodice and full length skirt.
Accessories used in The Wizard of Oz are much esteemed. At the sale of the Debbie Reynolds collection by Profiles in History on June 18, 2011, a test dress of same model was sold for $ 1.1 million including premium.
A pair of ruby slippers worn during test sequences was sold for $ 610K including premium by Profiles in History on June 18, 2011. The actual pair used by Judy-Dorothy, which had been discussed in this column in December 2011, was sold in a private sale in February 2012 by Profiles in History to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
1947 The Rookie of the Dodgers
2017 SOLD for $ 2.05M including premium
At the closing ceremony of the championship on September 23, 1947, a photo shows Jackie in a baseball uniform alongside his wife and a friend.
That game worn jersey was treasured for half a century at first by Jackie and then by his widow. A great symbol of the movement that will lead to racial equality in the United States, it is sold without reserve price as lot 50001 by Heritage in Dallas on November 19 in an online auction with extended bidding. The bidding starts at $ 900K with a $ 3M guide value.
The 1947 season ends from September 30 to October 6 with the World Series where the Dodgers are defeated by the Yankees in the seventh match. Rickey's choice had been relevant : Jackie Robinson was able to resist all insults up to and including the MLB's most prestigious event and his sporting qualities made him named Rookie of the Year.
Please watch the video shared by Heritage.
1955 The Most Famous Pleated Dress
2011 SOLD 5.6 M$ including premium
This lovely ivory white gown was a technical achievement. It must be heavy enough to stay graceful while walking, and light enough to fly above the wind tunnel. The designer Travilla chose a rayon-based fabric. A photo of the famous scene illustrates the article shared by the Daily Mail.
In 1971, 20th Century Fox sells many of their movie props, due to financial difficulties. The actress Debbie Reynolds, who was the dance partner of Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain, acquires prestigious pieces before they are auctioned.
She now splits her extraordinary collection, in two sales held by Profiles in History in Beverly Hills. The subway dress is included in the first sale, on June 18. It had never been submitted to a public sale, and it is very difficult to predict the price. The auction house announced a very open estimate that seems reasonable: between 1 and 2 million $.
POST SALE COMMENT
The sale was available live on the bidding provider site LiveAuctioneers. It was well attended by buyers, and the top lot reached a remarkable price: $ 4.6 million before fees.
It is a triumph in the category of movie props.
1962 At the Closest from Marilyn Monroe
2016 SOLD for $ 4.8M including premium
Marilyn has carefully prepared her contribution. The details are a surprise to the President and to the viewers. She composed the short poem 'Happy birthday Mr President' which she sings at the podium in a voice altogether languid and breathless after removing her coat.
She had ordered for this event to Jean Louis a stunning dress such as "only Marilyn Monroe could wear it". The effect of her performance is high among that well-wishing attendance. Jackie Kennedy is upset.
Jean Louis (Jean-Louis Berthault) is working for Hollywood studios since 1943. His designs have pushed Rita Hayworth to the rank of the sex symbol of the postwar period. He had already worked with Marilyn in 1961 for The Misfits.
Marilyn turns 36 less than two weeks later. Her professional career is at a point of no return. She is contractually linked with Fox whose projects do not bring any more pleasure to her. She feels that her body that made her fame will begin to get softened. She dreams of becoming a great tragic comedian.
The gown by Jean Louis is the culmination of the flamboyant youth of Marilyn and her apotheosis. Its color is perfectly consistent with her skin's. The garment with an open back is so tight that the zipper does not work completely and the last stitch is sewn on the actress. Under the stage lights the hundreds of crystals well distributed on the fabric sparkle to hide her nakedness while reinforcing the illusion of it.
On late June the Last Sitting is made. Photographed for Vogue magazine, Marilyn displays her still young body that Jean Louis's gown had masked. The root cause of her death on 5 August 1962 is not known.
The dress made by Jean Louis for Happy Birthday is estimated $ 2M for sale by Julien's in Los Angeles on November 17, lot 84. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1972 Ice Hockey Jersey of Paul Henderson
2010 SOLD 1.27 M$ including premium by Classic Auctions
1983 A Jacket for a Werewolf and Two Tigers
2011 SOLD 1.8 M$ including premium
This little 14-minute film is a pastiche of horror movies. Michael, omnipresent, cunningly shows the complexity of his personality: sweet charmer of girls, abominable werewolf, first dancer in a gang of zombies.
A thread follows him in all these roles: his red jacket with black stripes. He often reused this model in concert. He liked this jacket that was flexible enough for not impeding the movements of the most frantic dance.
One of the two originals of this iconic garment is for sale by Julien's in Beverly Hills in the sale of 25 and 26 June. This lot is shown on the release shared by AuctionPublicity.
The jacket is estimated $ 200K. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of that lot will be paid to the Shambala Preserve. This charity for abandoned big cats is housing since 2006 the two tigers of the artist, Thriller and Sabu
POST SALE COMMENT
Michael's tigers will be well fed. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this lot is for their home. The jacket was sold $ 1.8 million charge included.