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Digital Subscriptions > Antiques Trade Gazette > 2341 > Hammer highlights

Hammer highlights

Our pick of books and works on paper recently sold at auction
The night, just three months before her death, that Marilyn Monroe sang ‘Happy Birthday’ in sultry tones at a Democratic Party fundraiser celebrating John F Kennedy’s 45th birthday, caused a sensation.

Her dress, made of a sheer and flesh-coloured fabric and sewn with 2500 shimmering rhinestones, was so tight-fitting that, though otherwise naked, she had difficulty putting it on.

Sold for £6000 plus 24% buyer’s premium by Bloomsbury Auctions on November 9, 2017, was a copy of the programme signed by Marilyn, Maria Callas, Jimmy Durante, Peter Lawford, Eddie Jackson and Henry Fonda. The signatures were obtained by Monroe’s NYPD bodyguard.

“My lord, because I know that you will take pleasure in the great victory which our Lord has granted me on this voyage, I write you this letter, by which you will learn how… I crossed to the Indies, where I found many islands populated with innumerable inhabitants; and I have taken possession of all of them…”

In simple terms, this is Christopher Columbus telling Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain that he had found the American continent. Perhaps as many as 19 printed editions of the ‘Columbus Letter’ were printed in the final few years of the 15th century.

Of the very first, printed in Barcelona in early April 1493, there is just one recorded example – sold by Quaritch in 1892 to the New York Public Library. There are, however, a relatively large number of surviving copies of an edition issued by Johann Bergmann de Olpe of Basel in April 1494, and it was one of those that sold for $620,000 (£462,000) plus 25/20/12% buyer’s premium in a Bonhams New York sale of September 26, 2017.

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About Antiques Trade Gazette

Published every week since 1971, Antiques Trade Gazette is affectionately known as ‘the Bible of the antiques trade’. A long tradition of authority, integrity and accuracy, makes it the essential read for everyone who loves antiques. With a subscription to Antiques Trade Gazette, you’ll stay ahead of all the developments in the art and antiques market, plus you’ll enjoy • A comprehensive auction calendar – see when and where every sale will be happening • Exclusive interviews with dealers, giving you the inside track on the trade • Breaking news on key industry developments • Secrets, stories and tips from leading specialists and collectors • Top lots advertised by auctioneers • Previews of the best art and antiques fairs and markets • Special supplements focusing on specific collecting areas

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