Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2017 Issue

AbeBooks Posts the Top 10 Highest Prices Paid in April-June 2017

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Ready to Rumble – Warhol and Basquiat set off to exhibit their paintings.

It was a testament to just how crazy much money collectors will spend on their passion. Sadly, it was not a testament to what people will spend on books, which is much more reasonable (that is, less), but paintings. A painting, which didn't even manage to have a name (it is called "Untitled") sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby's in May. It was painted in 1982 when the artist was but 21 years old. Jean-Michel Basquiat was an African-American street artist from New York. He moved from graffiti to paintings in the late 1970's and soon developed a following. In 1981, he became friendly with Andy Warhol, and the the two collaborated on paintings for several years. Ironically, the sale of this untitled painting of a skull surpassed a $105 million item of Warhol's to become the most expensive American painting ever sold at auction. Sadly, it was a fast crowd with which Basquiat lived. He died in 1988 at the age of 27 of a heroin overdose.

 

You might wonder what any of this has to do with the Top 10 most expensive items sold on AbeBooks website for the second quarter of 2017. The answer will become apparent when we reach the top of the list.

 

For the second quarter, there were several works or books featuring artwork on the list along with literary items. Here is AbeBooks Top 10 for April-June 2017.

 

9/10 (tie). Brave New World/Letters to Goddard Lieberson. One is a book, the other a collection of personal letters. Both are from Aldous Huxley. Brave New World, published in 1932, is his most enduring book, a look at the distant future. This copy was a first edition, first printing, with dust jacket. The letters are a collection of 13 written by Huxley, two by his second wife Laura, to Columbia Records President Goddard Lieberson. They met when Lieberson asked him to read from his work for author recordings Columbia made in the 1950's. $7,500.

 

8. Le Monde de l'Art n'est pas le Monde du Pardon (The World of Art is Not the World of Forgiveness). This is an art book published in 75 copies in 1974, featuring illustrations from Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Victor Brauner, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Wifredo Lam, Zao Wou Ki, Vieira da Silva, Arpad Szenes, Jean-Philippe Charbonnier, Alberto Giacometti and others. Text is from poet René Char. A suite of original prints was included. $7,733.

 

7. Studio d'architettura civile sopra gli ornamenti di porte... Three volumes of drawings of buildings published 1722-1728 from Florentine architect Ferdinando Ruggieri. $8,444.

 

6. Codice del Sacro Militare Ordine Gerosolimitano. A compendium of rules for Gerosolimitano, the Order of Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, a group dating back to about 1100 whose goal was to free the tomb of Christ from Islamic control during the Crusades. This is a first Maltese edition from 1777. $9,531.

 

5. An original drawing by Franz von Bayros. Von Bayros was an Austrian artist who lived from 1866-1924. He was part of the "Decadent Movement," his work erotic and controversial. While there is a nude young lady in this picture, Abe notes that it is "pretty tame" compared to some of his other works. $10,191.

 

4. La Fontaine's Fables. A four-volume set of Jean de La Fontaine's fables, published from 1755-1759. This is a second edition of the collection of writings from the 17th century French fabulist, containing 275 plates. $10,626.

 

3. Seven volumes of poetry by Hans Sachs. Sachs was a 16th century German meistersinger, poet, playwright, fabulist (that word again) and shoemaker. The latter paid the bills. He wrote over 6,000 pieces of literature (how many shoes he made is unknown). $10,999.

 

2. Chocky. This one is a science fiction tale by John Wyndham, first published in 1963 in Amazing Stories. This is a signed first edition in book format, published in 1968. $11,443.

 

1. Tony Shafrazi . Bruno Bischofberger Present Warhol . Basquiat Paintings. A poster for for an exhibition of Warhol and Basquiet's collaborative work in 1985. They are dressed as boxers. Abe notes that Basquait looks like a real fighter, while Warhol looks as if he couldn't "punch his way out of a damp paper bag." This copy was signed by both artists. The sale of this poster was made shortly after the record breaking sale of Basquiet's painting. $20,700.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Pushkin, Alexander. <i>Evgenii Onegin. A novel in verse.</i> A first edition of the most important work in Russian literature in its original parts, 1825–32. £120,000 to £160,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Gogol, Nikolai. <i>Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka.</i> A rare first edition of Gogol's first masterpiece, 1831–32. £70,000 to £100,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Darwin, Charles Robert. <i>On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.</i> First edition, owned and read by two contemporaries of Darwin. London: John Murray, 1859. £140,000 to £200,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Galilei, Galileo. <i>Sidereus Nuncius.</i> First edition, announcing the first astronomical discoveries made with the telescope. Venice: Tommaso Baglioni, [March] 1610. £300,000 to £500,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> The seal of Wulfric. England, first half 11th century. £70,000 to £100,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Bible, <i>Ezechiel</i> in Latin. [Northern Italy, 5th century]. £120,000 to £180,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Blaeu, Jan and Willem Blaeu. <i>Grooten Atlas [Atlas Major]</i>. Amsterdam: Johannes Blaeu, 1664. £450,000 to £650,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Petites Heures of Charles VIII use of Paris, in Latin. An exquisite Hours illuminated by the Master of the Chronique Scandaleuse. [Paris, 1490s]. £300,000 to £500,000
  • <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Blaise Cendrars and Fernand Léger, <i>La Fin du monde filmée par l’ange N.-D.,</i> Paris, Editions de la Sirène, 1919
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> André Breton, <i>Second manifeste du Surréalisme,</i> Paris, Editions Kra, 1930
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Paul Eluard and Pablo Picasso, <i>La Barre d’appui,</i> Paris, Editions « Cahiers d’Art », 1936
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Blaise Cendrars and Fernand Léger, <i>La Fin du monde filmée par l’ange N.-D.,</i> Paris, Editions de la Sirène, 1919
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Hans Bellmer, <i>Die Puppe,</i> Paris, G.L.M., 1936
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Salvador Dali, <i>La femme visible,</i> Paris, Editions Surréalistes, 1930
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. Sold for $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Joseph Brant, Mohawk Chief, ALS, writing after pledging support to King George III against American rebels, 1776. Sold for a record $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sonia Delaunay, <i>Ses Peintures</i> . . ., 20 pochoir plates, Paris, 1925. Sold for a record $13,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Diana, Princess of Wales, 6 autograph letters signed to British <i>Vogue</i> editor, 1989-92. Sold for $10,400.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alexander Hamilton, ALS, as Secretary of the Treasury covering costs of the new U.S. Mint, 1793. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. Sold for $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> George Barbier & François-Louis Schmied, <i>Personnages de Comédie,</i> Paris, 1922. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Ilsée, Princesse de Tripoli,</i> Paris, 1897. Sold for a record $13,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ralph Waldo Emerson, <i>The Dial,</i> first edition of the reconstituted issue, Emerson’s copy with inscriptions, Cincinnati, 1860. Sold for a record $3,250.
  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.

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