Auction Off, Speculation On (2)

What’s going on?

My speculation is that a Russian oligarch, for reasons of pride, patriotism, and prestige, approached Christie’s or DM and began negotiating. If I understand the one news report, the buyout is £500,000 over the high estimates of the 111 lots. Is the 25% commission in the original book costs with the £500K added on? Or does Christie’s get its 25% out of the £500K. I can imagine other ways of calculating who gets what.

The high estimates of the 111 lots adds up to £187,200. Christie’s premium, in a standard auction situation, would then be £46,800, for a total of £234,000 ($384,663 at the 6 June exchange rate). So this mysterious oligarch is paying either £687,200 (more likely) or £734,000. So the least being paid is probably $1,127,548. That’s £6191 per item. The average pre-auction high estimate is £1686 per item.

Conclusions: Signed, inscribed, lepted, or whatever VN items just became more dear. By a lot. Dealers won’t be offering any of those books because they will end up in a museum/library or the private stash of a probably very private person. The deal implies high four-/low five-figure valuations on special VN items.

One thing I don’t understand. It is now 11pm on Tuesday. This deal was revealed early this morning, around 5:30am. Why no Google hits, other than the one? (Bing/Yahoo didn’t pick it up at all.)

Another point: I wonder why this Russian oligarch, or whomever he/she is, didn’t buy the Laura manuscript at auction at the end of last year. Maybe because it was in English. It was ultimately won by an Italian dealer.

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