Sunday, December 9, 2012

Two of four Houdini posters sell in NYC auction

Two of four original Houdini posters sold today well below their (wildly optimistic) estimates at Guernsey's auction of 58 magic posters from the collection of Alan J. Kanter.

Amsterdam jail break (SOLD) and "Houdini for President" (PASS).

A King of Cards poster sold for $4,250 (plus a 22% commission). The auction estimate was $10,000 - $20,000. A 1903 one-sheet advertising Houdini's jail escape in Amsterdam sold for $18,000. While far below the $60,000 - $80,000 estimate, it still tied with a Thurston Eggs Extraordinary poster as the highest seller of the auction (the Thurston sheet was estimated at $20,000 - $40,000).

A beautiful "Houdini for President" lithograph failed to receive any bids when it opened with an asking bid of $40,000 (estimate: $75,000 - $85,000). Not as surprising was a pass on a Slander in Germany poster which also opened with a $40,000 asking bid. This same poster sold for $25,000 just last year. Guernsey's estimate was $65,000 - $75,000. Both posters had reserves while the two that sold did not.

A decidedly mixed day for Houdini at auction, but certainly a reality check on auction house price estimates of these posters in the future.

You can see all the posters and prices realized here.

UPDATE: Good thread on the Genii forums about this auction, including a post by Ken Trombly (major Houdini/magic collector) about the "unrealistically high estimates" that scared off many serious collectors and led to many posters selling below what they were worth. Seems the general feeling is the auction house badly mishandled this sale.

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