When I think of auctions, I think of Monet’s, Picasso’s and Cézanne’s—works of high art that lay dormant for decades, if not centuries, before being sold for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Turns out, there are many different kinds of auctions out there. And unless they are selling Michael Jackson’s diamond encrusted gloves, they tend not to get as much press as they deserve.
On Dec, 1, Julien’s, the leading entertainment auction house in the world, is going to get the press that it deserves and then some. Its star item, a Walther PP pistol from“Dr. No,” the first in the Bond film series, filmed in 1962, and used by the (very) recently deceased Scottish actor and James Bond icon, Sean Connery in the movie. Anti-gun? Not a problem, the prop gun has been permanently deactivated since filming—and even if it hadn’t been, committing an armed robbery with one of the most famous guns of all time would rank fairly highly on a list of bad life decisions
Artwork from “Dr. No” shows Connery standing, arms crossed, in a casual baby blue polo, cradling the famous gun with a mesmerizing ease and characteristically charming expression that seems to say, “You can mess with me if you want, but it’s not going to end well.”Julien’s expects this “Dr. No” treasure to fetch up to $200,000. That’s a lot of money. But odds are someone will answer in the affirmative to the sale, whether online or in person
Speaking to amNewYork Metro, Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer, Martin Nolan, of Julien’s, discussed the scintillating details of Hollywood auctioneering. In addition, we get the scoop on Julien’s upcoming mega-event that will put a diverse array of collectibles ranging from a trio of #23 historic basketball jersey’s worn by former president Barack Obama during his high school years, iconic guitars played by Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, and a (purposefully) smashed Kurt Cobain guitar under the gavel. For a full list of rare items, please visit Julien’s website.
Hazel Shahgholi [HS]: Why are you drawn to items form popular culture?
Martin Nolan [MN]: Well, I come from a Wall Street background, so I understand that these items are investments. But they’re also so much more than that. They’re tangible assets, there’s a cool factor, they are great conversation starters, they’re fun and artistic and, as the years go by, they are likely to appreciate in value. Furthermore, with my understanding of finance, I feel I can put my skills to use in preserving these really important iconic items that are a part of pop culture and its legacy.
HS: You say these items are likely to increase in value more over time and are therefore kind of reified, non-monetary assets. Can you speak to that a little more?
MN: Well auctions are one of the oldest forms of commerce—they’ve been around for over 1000 years—and are a great way to create liquidity. And during these times of COVID, where people might need to be raising some funds, previous investment in collectables actually acts as a strong safety net.
HS: Julien’s website mentions “the power of celebrity.”What does this mean?
MN: The way I would describe it is as a kind of philanthropy, a way for people of means to raise money and awareness, or shine a light on a charity or cause that is important for them. For example, Cher’s activism in paying for the relocation of, Kaavan, the “world’s loneliest elephant” from living partner-less in a Pakistani Zoo before the star had him transferred to a Cambodian wildlife sanctuary, where he could retire while enjoying the company of a gang of tusked friends.
HS: It’s no secret that Julien’s is an auction house for the stars—and if it were, it would be an exceedingly badly kept one. So I assume that a lot of your bidders are very well known people?
MN: Well yes, on both sides. A lot of our consignors (sellers) are very well known people, with desirable objects that people would want to own for a host or reasons. But what really amazes me is that a lot of stars actually bid on items owned by other celebrities. That really tells you that even people who are very famous have people who they look up to and that they feel influence them positively to the point where they want to own something representing that person’s life and career.
HS: Do you have a backstory on the Kurt Cobain guitar that is up for sale? I believe I read it was one of the many that he smashed on stage..
MN: Well, of course, Kurt Cobain is highly collectible. In fact, back in June of this year we sold his1959 Martin D-18E acoustic-electric guitar that he famously played during the legendary MTV Unplugged session in 1995, just five months before he died. It sold for $6.01 million—the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction.
The thing about Kurt’s guitars is that they all have such interesting backstories. He was known for smashing guitars—that was his thing. He was a showman, he entertained. And he’s still entertaining, because these guitars are coming to auction and people are fascinated by them and bidding heavily and competitively.
So, New Yorkers, if you have a spare couple of hundred thousand dollars lying around as a result of your genius pre-pandemic investment in Zoom, let the virtual bidding begin! For more information on Julien’s “Icons & Idols Trilogy: Rock ‘N’ Roll, Hollywood and Sports” please visit www.juliensauctions.com