Stalin rare death mask - one of two in the West - commands $8,711 at auction
Whether it's Stalin or Lenin, death masks are coveted among collectors, like this auctioned example
Paul Fraser Collectibles, Wednesday 25 January 2012
Dictators' deaths and legacies often fascinate us as much as their lives. This is reflected in the collectibles markets, most recently with the auctioning of Joseph Stalin's death mask.
The former Soviet ruler's death mask stirred plenty of interest among collectors prior to its January 24 sale.
Stalin ruled the Soviet Union throughout the 1930s and 1940s. His regime is today held as a benchmark of tyranny and use of terror against opponents.
The bronze mask went up for sale in the UK with a £3,000-5,000 estimate. In the end, it sold for £4,400 ($8,711) including Buyer's Premium, comfortably above the lower estimate.
Stalin's rare and historic bronze mask is one of just 12 taken from the original plaster death mask made following his death in 1953.
Russian collectors are becoming an increasingly significant force in the global collectibles markets. So it's no surprise that many of Stalin's bronze masks now reside in Russian collections.
The example sold in the UK is the second Stalin mask to have ever appeared at auction in the West. The previous example auctioned at Sotheby's in the early-'90s.
The mask sold with casts of Stalin's hands, including his famous withered left hand.
Auctioneer and expert Richard Westwood-Brookes told the BBC news website: "The casts that we have here show that his hand was a little withered thing, so you are seeing Stalin as he really was."
We have a Lenin death mask for sale
If you missed out on the Stalin death mask, how about owning one of the few Lenin death masks available?
Paul Fraser currently has one for sale. The Lenin death mask is one of just 14 known, produced by the great Russian sculptor Sergey Merkurov. This is also the first one to appear on the market for more than 20 years.
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