Signed Egon Schiele Letter and Ronald Reagan Photo Smash Expectations at Swann Galleries

Photograph of Ronald Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with German officials, signed
Photograph of Ronald Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with German officials, signed "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!" Photo: Swann Galleries.

 

Photograph of Ronald Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with German officials, signed "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!" Photo: Swann Galleries.

Photograph of Ronald Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with German officials, signed “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!”
Photo: Swann Galleries.

Hand-signed manuscripts from authors, politician, and celebrities can be hot ticket items at auction (see Mozart Manuscript Smuggled Away From Nazis Sells Big at Sotheby’s and Beatles Sold! John Lennon Manuscripts Score $3 Million), and last week’s Autographs sale at Swann Auction Galleries was no exception.

The most sought after autograph proved to be a signed letter from Austrian painter Egon Schiele, sent just weeks before he died in 1918. The missive voices the painter’s displeasure in having his work subject to review by the military, “a board whose whims severely inhibit the existence of a creative force . . . so that any new, free, intellectual or artistic conception is wiped out again. The executioner’s scaffold comes to mind.” Expectations were for a $8,000–12,000 sale, but the final price more than doubled that at $33,800.

A signed letter by Egon Schiele complaining about the military's interference in his art, written weeks before his death (1918). Photo: Swann Galleries.

A signed letter by Egon Schiele complaining about the military’s interference in his art, written weeks before his death (1918).
Photo: Swann Galleries.

 

A photo of Ronald Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with German officials, signed “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!” by the president, sold for $16,250, over five times the high estimate of $3,000.

Another presidential lot, of a speech from the San Francisco rally that kicked off John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign, fetched $17,500, an even $10,000 above the pre-sale high estimate.

The reading copy of the speech from the San Francisco rally that kicked off John F. Kennedy's 1960 campaign. Photo: Swann Galleries.

The reading copy of the speech from the San Francisco rally that kicked off John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign.
Photo: Swann Galleries.

 

Other top lots included a pair of letters from Alexander Graham Bell to James Garfield’s private secretary on the occasion of the president’s assassination. Garfield was shot on July 2, 1881, but did not die until September 19 of that year.

Signed Alexander Graham Bell letter to James Garfield's private secretary J. Stanley Brown on the occasion of the president's assassination. Photo: Swann Galleries.

Signed Alexander Graham Bell letter to James Garfield’s private secretary J. Stanley Brown on the occasion of the president’s assassination (1881).
Photo: Swann Galleries.

The correspondence detailed Graham Bell’s unsuccessful efforts to create a machine that could find and extract the bullet still lodged within the president’s abdomen, and his later request for tickets to Garfield’s funeral. The letters sold together for $10,625.

Signed photo of Albert Einstein by Alan Windsor Richards (1954). Photo: Swann Galleries.

Signed photo of Albert Einstein by Alan Windsor Richards (1954).
Photo: Swann Galleries.

An eight-page manuscript by Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle hammered down at $11,250, while a signed photo of physicist Albert Einstein went for $13,750.

 

Arthur Conan Doyle, signed manuscript for his short story "The Nightmare Room," first published in <em>Strand Magazine</em> in December 1921. Photo: Swann Galleries.

Arthur Conan Doyle, signed manuscript for his short story “The Nightmare Room,” first published in Strand Magazine in December 1921.
Photo: Swann Galleries.

 

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