Category Archives: auctions

2021 ➤ So what’s the Bowie premium as Judi’s Ashes hat goes for sale?

Steve Strange, Judith Frankland, Blitz Kids, fashion, Ashes to Ashes, David Bowie, pop video,

Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video 1980: Steve Strange at left and Judi Frankland at right, wearing the hat going for auction on 7 December. (Video © 1983 Jones Music / EMI Records Ltd)

Updated on 6 December 2021

❚ A FAMOUS OWNER can certainly bestow prestige on a work of art. Indeed when Bowie’s own contemporary art collection went for auction at Sotheby’s in 2016 there was an online frenzy to snap up most of the 147 items – at prices which were mostly two to four times greater than the auctioneer’s top estimates. Some artists managed to attract TEN TIMES their top asking price, specifically Picasso, Kokoschka, Gill, Alexander Mckenzie, David Jones, Stephen Finer, Clive Shepherd, Eric Heckel, Johann Garber, Ivon Hitchens, Maurice Cockrill.

You could call those sizeably inflated extra costs a “Bowie premium” and a lot of people were prepared to pay hair-raising prices depending on their determination to own a piece of Bowie’s legacy.

Step forward Steve Strange, or rather since Steve is sadly no longer with us, step forward fashion designer Judi Frankland, one of the wildest of clubland’s Blitz Kids, best known for some of her fab 1980 degree collection immortalised in Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video. There, Steve Strange sports more than one hat, most famously the ornate veiled head-dress made of stiffened lace on a metal frame by Stephen Jones, worn with Judi’s black wedding dress in long shots. But he also sports another smaller, snugger hat in certain chorus close-ups on the beach and later in the studio.

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1980, Bowie recruits Blitz Kids
for his Ashes video

This titfer had initially been thought to be the one described today by a London auctioneer as a “wide pleated chiffon band and large taffeta bow to rear”, which is being offered for sale on 7th December for £200-£300. Designed by Judi to coordinate with her degree-show collection, the hat was, she says, made by Fiona Dealey and Richard Ostell together in the days when student pals helped out on each other’s major collections. Both of them boast significant reputations today.

An initial description and provenance had been provided by the seller, who is not known to Judi. Since first posting, however, the auctioneer initiated a long phone conversation on Monday with Judi, from which it turns out that the hat for sale was worn by Judi herself in the video as the bow arrangement at rear had originally stood high in the air, whereas today it is folded flat. So two or even three price premiums come into play here to determine the market value of this chic little titfer 40 years after Judi designed it. For making it famous, a Bowie premium of two to four times the estimated price, would bump its worth up to, say, £900; plus a Steve Strange premium for sporting Judi’s collection in the Ashes video shoots. And now perhaps a Frankland premium too!

Judith Frankland, Blitz Kids, fashion, Ashes to Ashes, Kerry Taylor Auctions,

Former Blitz Kid Judi Frankland: Her latest voile and taffeta creation with capelets is crowned with a hat of maribou feathers… Right, her 1980 hat for sale with chiffon band and taffeta bow, photographed by Kerry Taylor Auctions

So what is a Steve Strange premium worth? Remember that other auction last March when Auction Antiques in Exeter sold an Issey Miyake suit belonging to David Bowie, which he supposedly discarded in the Blitz Club after burning it with a cigarette (yet the date cited, 1982, was long after the Blitz had closed!)? Steve Strange took it home and following his death in 2015 it was inherited by his long-time friend Jayce Lewis who subsequently offered it for sale via Auction Antiques who reckoned it could fetch an estimated £10,000-£15,000. Trouble was, in this sale there were so few bids that it yielded only £8,000, which you could interpret as the “Strange premium” proving to be more like a forfeit of 36%. Apply that to Judi’s hat and its possible worth comes down to around £576. Which is better than nothing, obvs. Now we hear that absent-minded Judi herself sported the hat in Ashes to Ashes, so we really ought to sprinkle some Frankland stardust on the price so let’s say it’s worth £700 to a buyer!

hats, Judith Frankland, Blitz Kids, fashion, Ashes to Ashes, David Bowie, pop video,

The Frankland hat for sale in 2021: here in the bonfire scene in Ashes to Ashes

Kerry Taylor Auctions in London sells vintage fashion worn by such celebs as Princess Di and Amy Winehouse. And next week they’re selling Judi’s long-lost hat as Lot 155A in their Passion for Fashion sale. The website tells a tale of its current owner Roz Corrigan wearing it on the eve she met her future husband. Aw, sweet.

Dear old Judi can’t even remember how the hat vanished from her Cranley Gardens flat way back when. “I have no doubt it’s my hat,” she tells me, having seen the photos online. “It was possibly crushed in my wardrobe as I was as bad as Steve was with my frocks.” She recalls how her sensational black wedding dress had returned from the seaside video location covered in mud and make-up and vanished into the recess Steve Strange called his wardrobe, never to be seen again. She adds however: “That hat would never have stood a chance of surviving if it had stayed with me and not been given away.”

➢ The Kerry Taylor auction Passion for Fashion starts at 1pm on Tue, 7th Dec 2021, both in Bermondsey (booking essential) and online

UNCANNILY AS PREDICTED HERE,
JUDI’S HAT GOES FOR £700

Updated on 7 December 2021
❏ The hat-trick of hot names Bowie/Strange/Frankland meant that during a speedy round of intense bidding at today’s international online auction, Judi’s chiffon-taffeta number hit exactly the hammer price of £700 which we predicted yesterday. So well done Ms Frankland for beating the auctioneer’s mid-point estimate by 280% !!! In real money the hammer price grosses up to £1,050 after premium and VAT are added.

Coincidentally, in this Kerry Taylor auction of 265 fashion items from many nations and periods, among the household names selling either side of Judi’s 1980 hat, about 30 items performed remarkably well. Four garments bearing the 1970s Biba label sold for about four times their top estimates, as did an Ossie Clark/Celia Birtwell chiffon dress. Half a dozen Vivienne Westwood outfits (Pirates/Punkature) went for at least twice their estimates amid fiercely competitive bidding, while a sensational Issey Miyake moulded breastplate from 1980 clocked £32,000. What proved shockingly disappointing was to see a string of striking John Galliano skirts and jackets from around 1986-88 only just hit their estimates, while one delicious woollen pouch dress from his Forgotten Innocents collection on offer for £10,000 failed to reach its reserve with a bid of “only” £7,500, so remains unsold!

Michael Reason, Melbourne Museum, fashion, collector,

Michael Reason: who placed the top bid for Judi Frankland’s 1980 hat at auction this week

AND THE WINNER IS
MICHAEL IN MELBOURNE

Updated on 9 December 2021
❏ So now we know who won Judi Frankland’s chiffon-taffeta titfer in Tuesday’s auction. Michael Reason posted his comment (below) glowing with pride at now owning a talisman from Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video, “which has meant so much to me since I first saw it as a gay teenager in the 1980s”. We’ve been hearing more about him…

Michael grew up in Tasmania, moved to Melbourne to study and is today the Curator of Leisure and Social Spaces at Melbourne Museum. Because Australia’s time difference placed the auction in the early hours, he says, “I almost didn’t bother staying up, as I had this feeling that such an iconic piece of fashion/music history would command a four-figure sum. I mean, what else is ever going to turn up from the Ashes to Ashes video? The ‘David Bowie is’ exhibition came to Melbourne in 2015, just before he died, and the Pierrot suit was featured, but I’ve never seen anything else.

“I was actually more excited that the hat was worn by Judith in the video, rather than Steve Strange, as I’ve always admired her work. I’m sure it will end up in an appropriate gallery one day, but I will certainly enjoy it until then.”

Twiggy Boutique, minidress, fashion, Dolce & Gabbana, Joanna Lumley, Michael Reason,auctions,

Garments previously bought at auction by collector Michael Reason: Twiggy Boutique duck-egg blue synthetic minidress, 1967-70; and Dolce & Gabbana floral print jacket worn by Joanna Lumley as Patsy in TV’s Absolutely Fabulous in 2000. Photography courtesy of Kerry Taylor Auctions

As a lover of fashion and design, Michael adds: “Our sister organisation, the National Gallery of Victoria, collects more internationally, and with a narrower definition of fashion. I recently donated two items to them, a Vivienne Westwood toile dress and a Twiggy Boutique mini-dress.” He also acquired through Kerry Taylor Auctions a floral print D&G jacket worn by Patsy in three episodes of Ab Fab, Patsy’s D&G shoes and fishnet stockings from another, plus Anne’s costume from Little Britain.

Recently he has been working with Australian fashion designer Jenny Bannister, “known for her interest in upcycling and trashion”, he says, with much of her clothing now part of his Museum’s collection.

Best news of all, Michael adds: “I was thinking that I’d look at having Judith’s bow unstitched, to try and restore its original silhouette. I’m sure it could be done without causing damage.” It’s a proposal Judi greets with delight: “I hope Michael does put the bow right. Why on earth anyone stitched it flat, I don’t know. The silhouette is what made it so fabulous.”

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: The Blitz Kids WATN? No 37, Judith Frankland
➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: Judith Frankland as queen
of the Bowie girls

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: 2011, A swelle hello from upstart Judith

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2021 ➤ Who can identify the face in this Bowie painting up for auction next week?

David Bowie, Cowley Abbott, discovery, Dead Heads,auction, paintings,

David Bowie’s collage DHead XLVI: portrait of an unidentified person… and the characteristic Bowie signature on the back

Updated on 25 June 2021
❚ A PAINTING BY SUPERSTAR DAVID BOWIE was found last summer in a thrift store for household goods and bought for just five dollars. Today it was put up for auction online and its top estimate of £7,200 was soon exceeded by four times that amount [19 June update]! After more than a week of bidding it sold on 24 June for £63,269 – a nine-fold increase on the upper estimate. The Canadian auction house hosting the online sale has not been able to identify the subject who is likely to have been among Bowie’s circle of friends during the Ziggy Stardust era as well as the mid-1990s when the painting was made. Take a guess and mail contact [a t] shapersofthe80s.com if you know who the friend might be. (Early guesses by a former UK Blitz Kid include Dana Gillespie and Lindsay Kemp – the gender of the subject is ambiguous.)

➢ Toronto’s local newspaper BayToday reports on
how the bargain was discovered. . .

Jeff Turl writes It’s every bargain hunter’s dream… paying next to nothing but scoring big time. The buyer picked up the treasure, left in a pile of discarded goods in a thrift store, for just $5. The painting is valued at $12,000 (£7,200 GBP), its upper estimate, at Cowley Abbott’s International Art Online Auction from June 15-24.

The painting is titled, D Head XLVI and is a small 24.8 x 20.3 cm acrylic and computer collage on canvas, dated 1997. “The consignor of the painting was astonished upon viewing a label which read David Bowie and realized it was the signature of the artist inscribed on the reverse,” says Andrea McLoughlin, Cowley Abbott spokeswoman. The painting’s female owner has not been identified.

David Bowie, Cowley Abbott, discovery, Dead Heads,auction, paintings,

Bowie’s DHead XLVI as Lot 27 in the Cowley Abbott sale – its top estimate well exceeded within four days

“Many people may not know that Bowie enjoyed painting, and between 1994 and 1997 he created a series of approximately 45 works on canvas which he titled Dead Heads (or D Heads), each with a different non-sequential Roman numeral,” explains McLoughlin. “The sitters ranged from band members, friends and acquaintances and there were also some self-portraits. It has been suggested that, for some of these important paintings, Bowie drew inspiration from the Ziggy Stardust era. With long hair and a pronounced profile, this energetic and enigmatic portrait is truly a rare representation from a celebrated artist.”

Paintings by the late music icon are rarely seen at auction, with the most recent sale of artwork from the D Head series fetching $32,000 USD ($38,861CDN) at an auction in the United Kingdom in 2016… / Continued at Baytoday.ca

➢ Cowley Abbott’s International Art Online Auction
ran from June 15–24 when bidding for Lot 27, Bowie’s DHead XLVI, closed at 02:15 PM EDT. The painting achieved an astonishing $108,120 CDN (£63,269 GBP). This echoes Sotheby’s 2016 sale of Bowie’s own modern art collection, when most established artists’ prices were inflated by a substantial “Bowie premium”.

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2019 ➤ George Michael’s art for sale: funky, X-rated and naughty as you’d expect

Antony Gormley, Christie’s London, auction, art, George Michael, sex,

Visitor posing at Christie’s London beside George Michael backdrop – at right, Another Time III (2007), cast iron statue by Antony Gormley

PARENTS BEWARE! The extraordinary exhibition of singer George Michael’s art collection currently showing in London would in any other medium be X-rated, yet at Christie’s the auctioneers it comes without any parental PG warning despite displaying images of rats copulating and a team game between naked men ejaculating. It delivers the highest genitalia count in auction-house memory: we see at least 40 penises, 27 vaginas and photographs of 108 positions of the “Karmasutra” enacted by a rubber-clad woman and a garden gnome. These are extraordinary counts for a show numbering 174 artworks. They go under the hammer this week in two auctions.

The penises, let’s hasten to add, are not George’s own. The biggest and probably most prestigious penis on show is attached to Lot No 1, cast in iron and belonging to Antony Gormley, Britain’s most respected living sculptor, famed for casting himself life-sized and naked, here under the title Another Time III (upper estimate £250,000). Another set of male genitalia is confected with typical bawdiness by Sarah Lucas from coiled wire, appropriately titled O Nob (est £25,000).

Other contributors to the penis count in Thursday’s prestigious evening sale include, inevitably, Gilbert & George, the Chapman brothers and Sam Taylor-Johnson, who are all trumped by a clutch of dildos in Tim Noble & Sue Webster’s Dirty Narcissus sculpture in silicone rubber.

Click any pic below to enlarge all in a slideshow

Running simultaneously is Christie’s larger online auction which ends on Friday, where Tracey Emin is a major contender by offering many scribbled vaginas but is beaten hands-down by the artist named only as Linder, a Liverpudlian graphic designer known for her radical feminist photomontages, here offering a gallery of naked Pretty Girls.

Some would say George Michael’s collection of art reflects fairly his obsession with sex and death (the skull count is notable, too). In addition to a soundtrack of his music, the exhibition’s loudspeakers beam out audio clips of George freely eff-wording and describing his sexual proclivities at high volume in every gallery, all in the best possible taste, as Kenny Everett would have said.

By the time we’ve taken in the many shiny works of “art” involving much glitz and a lot of tat, The George Michael Collection must be one of the most tacky shows to have been hosted by a leading auctioneer for years.

Ouch! That sounds far too judgemental for the 21st century, doesn’t it? So let’s hear from his admirers, posted on the Christie’s website. The singer’s former partner Kenny Goss tells us that George started collecting art after meeting artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn and Michael Craig-Martin: “The art collection was part of him. The YBAs’ openness and honesty about life, death and sex were a huge part of his world.”

Sue Webster, who is well represented in the collection with collaborator Tim Noble, commented on the “sexual nature” of many of the works George Michael bought. “But it’s all got two sides to it, a darkness and a light – and George’s music worked on many levels like that, so I can see the attraction.”

Click any pic below to enlarge all in a slideshow

Photographer Mary McCartney believes the collection is quintessentially George Michael in that it consists of art that’s impossible to ignore. “He was very impactful,” she says of the man who had 15 number-one singles in Britain and America, and sold 125 million records over the course of his career. “[The collection] shows a lot of his character; there are a lot of brave pieces with an opinion.”

The critic Andrew Graham-Dixon concludes: “Traditionally there’s a very strong connection between British pop and Brit art. When the YBAs first came to prominence they did so almost like rock stars.” He goes further by suggesting that Tate Modern would not have opened had it not been for the YBA generation. “They transformed British culture,” he insists. Much as George Michael did with his music.

So – there’s the other side of the coin. Tit for tat.

➢ Results for The George Michael Collection Evening Auction, from 7pm on March 14

UPDATE: THE LIVE SALE NOTCHES £9,264,000

Tracey Emin, Christie’s London, auction, art, George Michael,

Neon heart by Tracey Emin, 2007: after competitive bidding, it realised £374,250

❏ Many George Michael fans were clearly bidding all round the world from Singapore to New York during Thursday’s live televised auction at Christie’s London of 61 works from the singer’s art collection, so for some items the bids were brisk and keen.

Four prominent Brits raised the highest six-figure sums: two iconic Damien Hirst formaldehyde works realised £911,250 and £875,250, while paintings by Bridget Riley and Cecily Brown fetched £791,250 each and the Antony Gormley sculpture £431,250.

The surprise sensations of the show were two pieces by Tracey Emin: her acrylic abstract painting on canvas Hurricane (2007, size 72 x 72in) was estimated by the auctioneer at £120k-180k and actually realised £431,250. . . and Tracey’s neon heart containing the message George Loves Kenny (2007, size 42x42in) which was estimated to be worth £40k-60k, yet after a suspenseful round of bidding finally realised £347,250 !

Another sensation was Noble & Webster’s Excessive Sensual Indulgence (1999), a dazzling, flashing array of 312 coloured UFO reflector caps, lamps and holders, which was estimated at £30k-50k, but went on to fetch £237,500.

Closing the two-hour sale, the final lot by former Blitz Kid Cerith Wyn Evans also exceeded expectations. An elegant wall-hanging neon sign titled And if I don’t meet you no more… (2006) had been estimated at £10k-15k, yet went for £68,750. Proceeds are going to extend the singer’s philanthropic legacy.

PLUS £2MILLION MORE ONLINE

❏ Update – Proceeds from Friday’s online auction of 111 items totalled £2,045,375. Probably the most impressive sum raised was for Harland Miller’s oil on large canvas Penguin book cover, “Death, What’s in it for Me?” which realised £212,500. A superb Aubusson tapestry titled Pallidweave (one in an edition of three) by Rupert Norfolk went for the absolute bargain price of £15,000.

➢ Results for The George Michael Collection
Online Auction, March 8–15

➢ Virtual tour online of the George Michael exhibition at Christie’s

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➤ A personal tale about the genius staring out from a painting expected to sell for £30m tonight

David Hockney, Henry Geldzahler, Christopher Scott, Photography, painting, auction, Christie's London,

Being auctioned tonight at Christie’s: Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott by David Hockney (1969, acrylic on canvas). Private collection. © David Hockney

THIS MESMERISING HUGE CANVAS TITLED Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott was painted by David Hockney in 1969 and is expected to sell at Christie’s tonight for at least £30million and today is the public’s last chance to view it until 4pm. It creates an intense dialogue between Hockney and his soulmate Henry, whose hairline is the picture’s vanishing point. By chance I got to know Henry in 1977, later stayed at his house in Greenwich Village and of course had to try-out the by then fabled pale mauve sofa pictured here.

We’d met during the best holiday of my life that summer at a house party hosted by the painter Teddy Millington-Drake at his vast 17th-century villa on Patmos, the Greek Island where St John had his apocalyptic Revelation. Two dozen guests, several with their kids, had arrived either like me on the weekly boat from Athens or on their own yachts (there were no direct flights to Patmos) for what proved to be a conclave of amusing, clever and influential movers and shakers from across the international art scene who utterly changed my understanding of life, the universe etcetera.

Henry himself, a three-in-one wit, wag and Svengali, undoubtedly changed the course of modern art by shifting its centre from Paris to New York, and affirmed the credibility of the term Pop Art. While only in his 30s he became the Metropolitan Museum’s first curator for 20th-century art and in 1969 mounted the landmark exhibition of 408 contemporary American works executed between 1940 and 1970 by artists he called “deflectors” of prevailing trends, such as Warhol, Gorky, Pollock, Rothko, Rauschenberg, Stella, Johns, Hopper. It was an immediate sensation. A new canon.

David Hockney, Henry Geldzahler, Christopher Scott, Irving Penn, Photography, painting, Andy Warhol

My photo of Henry Geldzahler in 1981: taking receipt of Irving Penn’s new portrait of him, in his NYC cultural commissioner’s office

I met Henry again in 1981 the very day he took receipt of a new portrait of him by photographer Irving Penn. I was in NYC that May during the First Blitz Invasion of the USA when I accompanied the 21 Blitz Kids who included the synth-led Spandau Ballet and Jon (Mole) Baker’s Axiom design collective who played a gig and staged a runway fashion show to introduce Manhattan to the new stars of Swinging London.

By then Henry had become New York’s first Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, appointed by the mayor Ed Koch. I visited his office at Columbus Circle and he played along when I suggested taking a souvenir snap so that my portrait of him cunningly captures him four times over: Henry in life reclining on his chaise, holding the Penn portrait, in the glass of which we see reflected the Warhol lithograph of him from 1979. Behind on an easel stands a further 1973 head-and-shoulders by Hockney (savagely cropped to maximise impact in this post).

Henry, who died in 1994, was described as the world’s “most powerful and controversial art curator”. He must also have been one of the most painted and photographed curators ever. “There are lots of pictures of Henry,” said Hockney. “He didn’t have many mirrors in his home. He knew what he looked like just by asking people to make portraits of him.”

David Hockney, Henry Geldzahler, Christopher Scott, art, painting,

Masterpiece of pictorial drama (detail): the central subject in Hockney’s painting of Geldzahler and Scott stares back, evaluating the painter’s every move. (My photo)

➢ Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott is Lot 8 in the sale An American Place: The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection at Christie’s London, 6 March 2019, from 7pm. Update: the painting went in three minutes flat for £33million.

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➤ Mix and match 70s retro clothes go up at eBay

auction, eBay, Blitz Kid, Melissa Caplan, vintage, clothing,

For sale: Tartan tabard designed by Blitz Kid Melissa Caplan

WITH SPANDAU BALLET very much in the news this week you’ve a chance to pick up a tartan tabard created by one of their early student designers, Blitz Kid Melissa Caplan. The one we see here was owned and worn by soulboy Lance Mccormack to their gig aboard HMS Belfast in 1980. Yours for £40, or whatever the highest bid is in five days’ time.

Lance says he’s having a clear out, so while you’re browsing you’ll also see a “very rare” Lewis Leathers jacket (pictured below) for sale for £250 or better offer. Other classics available include Johnson’s Lurex peg trousers bought spring 1978; Johnsons BC Ethic Larocka shirt with artwork by Vince Ray; men’s vintage Bowie jacket handmade by Carnaby Cavern London only £15.

No excuse for not looking cool at next Wednesday’s big gig.

Johnsons, Larocka, shirts, auction, eBay, vintage, clothing,Lewis Leathers, jacket, auction, eBay, vintage, clothing,
➢ Visit Lance’s sale page at eBay

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