Art mar­ket

As an al­ter­na­tive in­vest­ment, Au­drey Hep­burn’s film script sparkles for the jew­ellery com­pany

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Huon Mal­lalieu

GEN­ER­ALLY speak­ing, a col­lec­tor who buys purely for in­vest­ment is likely to lose by it. How­ever, one in­stance of in­vest­ment buy­ing at the end of Septem­ber seems jus­ti­fi­able. Ac­cord­ing to the New York Times, Tif­fany & Co bought Au­drey Hep­burn’s copy of the script of Break­fast at Tif­fany’s for £632,750 at Christie’s in London, ‘a record for a film script’ (Fig 1). The screen­play, with the ac­tress’s an­no­ta­tions, was ex­pected to sell for up to £90,000.

‘Break­fast at Tif­fany’s is such a sig­nif­i­cant work in cin­e­matic his­tory and we’re proud to have se­cured this im­por­tant script for our ex­ten­sive ar­chives as a way to cel­e­brate Tif­fany’s pop­u­lar-cul­ture legacy,’ said chief brand of­fi­cer Caro­line Nag­giar. In­stinet an­a­lysts es­ti­mate that the pur­chase will add up to about 10 ba­sis points of in­cre­men­tal sales, gen­eral and ad­min­is­tra­tive ex­penses in the third quar­ter, as well as brand and mar­ket­ing value. In­vest­ment or no, one could not think of a more suit­able owner for the script.

This sale brought a sec­ond Tif­fany’s script out of the wood­work that had been sent to Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe. Her agent turned it down, see­ing no fu­ture for the film. This one is to be auc­tioned at Julien’s in Bev­erly Hills on Novem­ber 18, es­ti­mated to $9,000 (£6,860).

Out of the wood­work leads me to an­other well-worn ex­pres­sion. ‘Look­ing for a nee­dle in a haystack’—in the older ver­sion, ‘a nee­dle in a bot­tle of hay’—is first found in Don Quixote and per­haps even coined by Miguel de Cer­vantes, along with other phrases still cur­rent in sev­eral languages. The ‘bot­tle’ comes from the French botte, or bun­dle, and is so used by the asi­nine Bot­tom when de­mand­ing food in A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream —with­out the nee­dle, of course.

The ex­pres­sion’s mean­ing, all agree, is to de­scribe a nearim­pos­si­ble task, but it may not be quite as straight­for­ward as it seems. Ac­cord­ing to John Shep­herd, a Kent an­tiques dealer, who, with his wife Erna His­cock, will be show­ing at An­tiques for Every­one at the NEC Birm­ing­ham from Novem­ber 23 to 26, they have found an ac­tual haystack nee­dle, which they will be of­fer­ing at £290 (Fig 3). It’s a three-sec­tion me­tal rod with a han­dle at one end and a barb at the other and, Mr Shep­herd says, it was used by farm­ers who needed to check the qual­ity of hay in the mid­dle of stacks when buy­ing win­ter fod­der.

That may well be so, but to pour a lit­tle cold wa­ter on it (a us­age that does not seem to have orig­i­nated with ei­ther Cer­vantes or Shake­speare), this im­ple­ment does look much like a straw-bale nee­dle, used to thread twine through bales when build­ing any­thing with straw. Usu­ally, how­ever, there is a hole for the twine as well as some form of barb. Per­haps it served both pur­poses.

In ei­ther case, should a sec­tion un­screw it­self, it might in­deed be hard to find, but the phrase would not be quite as pointed as if it were a sewing nee­dle.

At £2,750 at the same event, Ju­lian Eade, who spe­cialises in Doul­ton Lam­beth stoneware, has an ap­peal­ing ‘Boro­gove’ vase

mod­elled by Mark V. Mar­shall in about 1888 (Fig 4). Al­though Doul­ton gave it the name of one of the crea­tures that fea­ture in the poem Jab­ber­wocky from Alice through the Look­ing Glass, one won­ders whether they had not con­fused their boro­goves with their mome raths.

This crea­ture could per­haps be said to be ‘mimsy’, but Humpty Dumpty de­scribed the mome raths as ‘a sort of green pig’. He also said that a borogrove was ‘a thin shab­by­look­ing bird with its feathers stick­ing out all round, some­thing like a live mop’. How­ever, in sev­eral other places Lewis Car­roll hap­pily gives quite dif­fer­ent de­scrip­tions.

London ex­hi­bi­tions

Ab­bott and Holder of Mu­seum Street, WC1, has a trove of draw­ings from the es­tate of Fe­liks Topol­ski, from which an ‘of the mo­ment’ se­lec­tion forms an ex­hi­bi­tion run­ning from to­mor­row to De­cem­ber 22. Af­ter leav­ing Poland in 1933, Topol­ski was at the cen­tre of mo­men­tous events. As an Of­fi­cial War Artist, he recorded, among much else, the London Blitz, the North­ern Con­voys and the Nurem­berg Tri­als.

Postwar, he fa­mil­iarised him­self with world­wide cul­tural scenes: Andy Warhol (Fig 2), Bob Dy­lan, Elvis Pres­ley, Pierre Boulez, Martin Luther King, Tom Hay­den and the Civil Rights Move­ment— Tru­man and Cas­tro were all caught, on the spot, by his pen­cil, as were Swing­ing Six­ties London and the United Na­tions Com­mit­tees de­ter­min­ing such mon­u­men­tal is­sues as in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion in the peace­ful uses of outer space. Prices range from £775 to £2,500 (www.ab­bot­tand­holder.co.uk).

Peter Darach (born 1940) has not had a one-man show since 1983, but is now at Megan Piper’s new space on the first floor of 41, Dover Street, W1, un­til Novem­ber 22. His large, fig­u­ral paint­ings (Fig 7) com­bine ele­ments of Ja­panese Shunga prints, Bosch and chil­dren’s draw­ing to pow­er­ful and un­set­tling ef­fect. (www.megan­piper.co.uk).

Sel­dom, if ever, un­set­tling was the late por­trait and land­scape pain­ter John Ward. Some 10 years ago, he planned an ex­hi­bi­tion of re­cent work at the Maas Gallery, Clif­ford Street, W1, but died be­fore it could be or­gan­ised. To cel­e­brate the 100th an­niver­sary of his birth, a comem­mora­tive ex­hi­bi­tion of pic­tures span­ning most of his life (Fig 5), with work by his friends, is at the gallery to Novem­ber 24 (www.maas­gallery.com).

Un­til Novem­ber 24, Marl­bor­ough Fine Art, Albe­marle Street, W1, of­fers ‘Carved, Cast, Con­structed: Bri­tish Sculp­ture 1951–91’, with work by Ar­mitage (Fig 8), Caro, Chad­wick, Hep­worth, Mel­lis, Moore, Paolozzi, Pas­more and oth­ers (www.marl­bor­oughlon­don.com).

And on­line shows

Old Master dealer Rafael Valls of Duke Street, SW1, is re­peat­ing last year’s suc­cess­ful on­line ex­hi­bi­tion of paint­ings for less than £15,000 (Fig 6). The on­line cat­a­logue has been live since Novem­ber 1 and a down­load­able pdf will be avail­able at www.rafael­valls.co.uk

Liss Llewellyn, in as­so­ci­a­tion with Pey­ton Skip­with, of­fers the Mod­ern Bri­tish col­lec­tion of the late Alan M. For­tunoff (1933–2000), a re­mark­able re­tailer who made his depart­ment store one of the largest com­pa­nies in New York State. In col­lect­ing, he har­nessed his busi­ness in­stinct to a good eye, con­cen­trat­ing on Mod­ern Bri­tish when Amer­i­can Re­al­ism was all the rage (www.llfa.uk).

Next week What has been sell­ing

Fig 1: Au­drey Hep­burn’s orig­i­nal film script for Break­fast at Tif­fany’s. £632,750

Fig 2 left: Fe­liks Topol­ski’s The Be­gin­ning of the Evening. Fig 3 be­low: Haystack nee­dle. With His­cock & Shep­herd. Fig 4 right: Doul­ton ‘Bor­ro­gove’ vase. With Ju­lian Eade

Fig 5 left: John Ward’s Still Life with Lemon. With Maas Gallery. Fig 6 right: Bel­laria by Valentino Ghiglia. With Rafael Valls

Fig 7 above: Kite Fly­ing, by Peter Darach. With Megan Piper. Fig 8 right: Ken­neth Ar­mitage’s The Leg­end of Skadar. With Marl­bor­ough Fine Art

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