Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bessie's brooch pins down $72,000 at auction

An emerald and ruby encrusted "Royal Crown Brooch" that once belonged to Bess Houdini sold today at Potter & Potter's Spring Magic Auction for $72,000 (including buyer's premium). It beat the auction estimate of $30,000 - $40,000.

Legend states that Bess received the brooch from the Czar of Russia during Houdini's one and only tour of the country in 1903. But it's more likely she received if from Grand Duke Sergei Alexsandrovich in Moscow as the Houdinis never performed before the Czar himself. There are several photos of Bess wearing the brooch, including this color photo.

Bess gave the brooch to Geraldine Larsen, wife of William Larsen, Sr., in the 1940s. The brooch remained in the Larsen family -- it was worn by Arlene Larsen, wife of Milt Larsen, at Magic Castle events -- until today. The identity of the buyer is unknown (at least to me).

This latest Potter auction contained many other Houdini rarities. A historically significant photo of Houdini, Bess and Mama in Europe in 1901 (which I blogged about here) took $2,280. Three pages of rhyming verse written by Houdini sold for $12,000. A "Is Houdini Beaten?" broadside found a buyer at $4,320. A "scathing letter" from Houdini to the editor of Scientific American regarding the Margery case brought in $9,000. (All quoted prices include the 20% buyer's premium.)

Potter & Potter's next magic-themed auction will be The Grossman/Nicholson Collection II on June 10th, 2017.



  1. Jesus it's a &@#%$ brooch. Bess would have shook her head if she had seen this, knowing she had become some kind of icon. The other items landed unbelievable prices; $9,000 for that Mama photo? Wow!

    Harry keeps thundering along like an Alabama tornado...

    1. Mama photo sold for $2,280. It was the Margery letter that sold for $9000 (including premium).

    2. Whoops--my bad, John. It won't happen again.

    3. No worries. Just don't PAY the wrong price. ;)