Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Christie's London to auction Houdini straitjacket, Nov. 23

The Houdini straitjacket authenticated by magician Murray SawChuck on a recent episode of Pawn Stars will be auctioned by Christie's in London on November 23, 2011. The sale is 6214: Pop Culture: Film & Entertainment Memorabilia. The straitjacket is Lot 71 and the auction estimate is $23,000 - 30,000.

The auction also features several other Houdini items, including a curious green sack (Lot 70) that is simply described as "used by Harry Houdini for escapology tricks circa 1915." As it references the straitjacket lot for provenance, it appears this belongs to the same seller. Could this be the sack used during Metamorphosis? The sack carries an estimate of $1,600-2,300.

The straitjacket -- which I'm convinced is indeed the straitjacket Houdini used for several of his suspended escapes -- was given to the seller's grandfather, Paul J. Campbell (a salesman for Fleetwood Coffee), by Houdini's brother Theo. Hardeen "in late 1927 or early 1928." It has been in the family ever since.

The jacket first surfaced in the popular TV show Pawn Stars where star Rick Harrison made an offer of $25,000. The owner refused and instead listed it on eBay with a starting price of $149,000, where it cycled several times unsold.

Looks like the auction house has carried forward the misdating of the photo of Houdini in the jacket as 1915. According to Patrick Culliton, it's more likely 1923 (and I concur).

UPDATESOLD! Houdini straitjacket captures $46,980 at Christie's.


  1. actually its 1915, at least thats what is listed in the getty images description

  2. Yes, but both Pat and I think that date is wrong. Photo agencies do not always date accurately. Corbis actually dates this same photo as "1920s". I believe Pat even identified some of the other men in the photo, but now I can't find where he did that. Also, just going by Houdini appearance, that looks like him in '23. He's rockin' his movie star hair dye.

  3. Cool, its my jacket, very excited/nervous
    to see what it goes for

  4. Cool. I'm excited to see what it goes for as well. And the mysterious green sack! Good luck. :)