Jane Austen letter sold for an auction-record $160,000 (£124,000) at Bonhams NY.

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Jane Austen letter sets a sale record

A rare handwritten letter by Jane Austen (1775-1817) detailing a visit to the dentist has set an auction record for a signed autograph letter by her.

It was knocked down at $160,000/£124,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) against an estimate of $80,000-120,000 at Bonhams’ Fine Books & Manuscripts sale in New York on October 23. The letter was written to Austen’s sister Cassandra and is full of family news including details of a trip to Mr Spence the dentist with her three nieces. It came from the collection of the Dodge family, US industrialists and philanthropists.

Bill entails French auction reforms

A draft bill recommending further reform to the French auction system has passed through the Senate in Paris.

Its key measures, supported by the auction house watchdog Conseil des Ventes Volontaires and Le Syndicat National des Maisons de Ventes Volontaires (SYMEV), seek to relax the legal framework that surrounds art and antiques sales, bringing the French system closer to ‘the Anglo-Saxon model’ based primarily on self-regulation.

It “includes various provisions that will allow the profession to reconnect with its entrepreneurial spirit”, said SYMEV president Jean-Pierre Osenat after a near-unanimous vote. He urged that the bill be included in the parliamentary agenda of the National Assembly as soon as possible.

Last December, a report commissioned by the minister of justice Nicole Belloubet made 41 recommendations including the introduction of different rules for ‘voluntary’ and ‘judicial’ auctions and the relaxing of the need for auctioneers to have entrance qualifications and training.

Following the report, the act entails the creation of a new council, effectively replacing the Conseil des Ventes with a new Conseil des Maisons de Ventes composed mainly of commissaire-priseurs (auctioneers).

Richard Winterton makes new hires

Auction house Richard Winterton has appointed Ian Allsop as sporting memorabilia specialist.


Ian Allsop has joined auction house Richard Winterton.

He will hold valuation mornings every Tuesday at The Lichfield Auction Centre.

The firm has also announced the appointment of valuer Sonia Jackson.

Alert over stolen colourist artwork

A painting by British colourist Jeffrey Pratt (b.1940) was stolen from a private home in Surrey while the owners were away.


'Fruitsellers, West Africa', the painting by Jeffrey Pratt stolen from a home in Surrey.

The artist is calling on the trade to contact the police if they are offered the picture. Fruitsellers, West Africa was painted c.2014 and purchased from Whitewall Galleries in Guildford.

Anyone with information about the stolen picture should call the police on 101 quoting Surrey police crime reference number 45190091415.

Dallas and Doerr launch company

Valuers David Dallas and Rachel Doerr have launched Doerr Dallas Valuations. It follows Dallas becoming a shareholder of Doerr’s business. The firm will continue to provide insurance, probate and valuations for individuals and institutions. Dallas has worked with Doerr since she launched her business in 2016. She was previously at Pall Mall Art Advisors.

Unicorn rides high in Hoare collection

A woven tapestry of The Lady and the Unicorn c.1500 from Flanders was the top lot at the auction of the late dealer Oliver Hoare (1945-2018).


Tapestry of The Lady and the Unicorn c.1500 from Oliver Hoareʼs collection – £440,000 at Christie’s.

Christie’s offered 130 lots of works of art from his collection on October 25 which reached a hammer total of £1.2m.

The 4ft 8in x 8ft 2in (1.42 x 2.48m) tapestry, estimated at £120,000-180,000, was hammered down at £440,000 (plus 25/20% buyer’s premium).

Hoare held the first Islamic art auction at Christie’s in 1975 and later as a leading Islamic art dealer held regular exhibitions, including three under the banner Every Object Tells a Story. The most recent of these was held in 2017 and had a unicorn theme.

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1 Cimabue panel found hanging in kitchen sells for over £20m at auction in France

2 Moshe Oved silver ring, rare British petrol pump globe and William Gladstone’s grandfather clock – six auction highlights

3 Actress Judi Dench and the Brontë Museum call on public to help fund bid for miniature manuscript by a 14-year-old Charlotte Brontë

4 Rare Islamic gold dinar sets joint record at auction

5 Auction record for a £1.2m bottle of Scotch whisky

In Numbers


The number of dealerships exhibiting at TEFAF New York Fall which opened on November 1 at the Park Avenue Armory