Gauguin's angry letter brings $31k at Bonhams

The Bonham's Fine Books and Manuscripts sale over the weekend offered an impressive range of autographs, books and memorabilia.

A highlight of the auction was an amusing letter written by F Scott Fitzgerald to his friend William Judd which more than doubled its estimate, selling for $19,520.

In it, the Great Gatsby author refers to his friend as a "Parisien, Critic, Playrite, Bibliophile, Drunkard, and Good Egg." The warmth of Fitzgerald's words propelled it far clear of its $7,000 estimate.

Other successful lots included a 1923 handwritten letter from Sigmund Freud, which sold for $5,795, and a photograph of Albert Einstein, for $1,952. Each virtually achieved its top estimate.

Elsewhere, Einstein's typed letter to Dr Ford was picked up for the relative bargain of $2,440.

A signed print of Picasso sold for $4,575, under its $8,000 listing. Nevertheless, the autograph will undoubtedly appreciate in value for its lucky buyer in future years.

In surfing books and memorabilia, Thomas Blake's Hawaiian Surfboard - the first definitive book on Hawaii's favourite sport - sold within its estimate range at $3,965.

Among the biggest draws in the autographs was an angry and insightful four-page letter by the painter Gauguin, in which he complains of critics and marriage woes. It easily beat its estimate of $20,000-25,000, selling for $31,720.

Surprinsingly, a letter by Moby Dick author Herman Melville failed to sell. The 60,000-80,000 asking price was perhaps a little high for Melville's letter to a publisher, which contained none of the personal revelations found in the Gauguin rant.

Also in autographs, a set of photos and a signature by Christopher Robin Milne clearly drew nostalgia in some bidders. It more than tripled its lower estimate of $3,000, eventually bringing $10,980.

Overall, the Fine Books and Manuscripts auction was an intriguing sale, and demonstrated that the truly personal pieces can attract strong bidding.




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