Pancho Villa's silver saddle rides to $718,000 World Record price at auction

What would be the equivalent of a throne for a horseman? Well, last weekend saw a highly anticipated auction which went some way to answering that question.


This was the Western Americana Auction held in the ballroom of the Marriott Mesa Hotel, Arizona. It was standing-room only, with live internet bidding available.

The item in question was the last saddle owned by the legendary, or infamous, Mexican renegade and revolutionary hero Pancho Villa.

Unique and historic, the saddle is covered in silver-wrapped threads over leather stump work. The dazzling piece was crafted for the revolutionary by some of the greatest Mexican artisans before Villa's 1923 assassination.

In fact, hidden in amongst the domed silver conchos, the saddle bears the craftsmen's marks, whilst each stirrup is carved with the styled initials of Villa ('Francisco Villa' as this was the name he was using).

Bidding was opened by auctioneer Troy Black at $125,000, and sped away like a spurred horse before slowing down again at around the $500,000 mark. From then on two bidders duked it out until the hammer fell at $718,000 (including premium) - a world record for a saddle at auction, as well as tripling its estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.

Silver laden Pancho Villa saddle
The extraordinary silver-laden Pancho Villa saddle (detail above)

A burst of applause rang through the crowd for the winner: a South Texas-based collector who explained that the saddle will be displayed in a museum (the details are still be finalised).

The saddle made up just over a third of the auction's near-$2m total generated by 300 lots of Americana, art, antiques and Hollywood memorabilia.

Collectors fascinated by Central American revolutionaries need not be too distraught at missing it, however, as we currently have an absolutely stunning item of Cuban memorabilia on offer: A Cuban flag from before the revolution signed by both Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. That's right! Both of them. Click for more details.

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