Houdini Auction

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Postby Kevin Connolly » 09/21/04 08:25 PM

Has anyone checked out the items in the upcoming Houdini auction? The link is below.

HOUDINI

Any thoughts?
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Postby gfajuri » 09/22/04 05:48 AM

Don't the prices seem OOTW to you, Kevin? And the condition on many of the items is not "fair" (as stated by the auction house) but rather "poor." Even so, there are some fantastic items available. It'll be interesting to see what happens. Do you think anyone will pay $150,000+ for the "original" water torture cell?
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 09/22/04 06:54 AM

Gabe,

I don't know if anyone will pay $150,000 for the new cell. It had to cost a pretty penny to reconstruct. To me, I would pass.

I hear some of the cuffs, with COA, are patented after Houdini died. I have always stayed away from cuffs etc. because of the possible headaches down the reoad trying to sell them. I have only bought one set and that came from Houdini's basement sale and is stamped "HOUDINI". This came from the Houdini sale in the 80's.

I agree that condition is poor on many items. I'm surprised while it was on lease to Appleton or when Radner owned, they never tried to have it repaired/restored.

As for the photos, some seem to be later day repros. I may be wrong, but I've seen a few in my day to have doubts.

The online catalog is just fair. Very poor descriptions, wrong photos with descriptions and some images don't load.

My feelings if you want to buy something, you better be there to check out the item/s you want. This won't be for the faint of heart.

Bottom line is, this will be an event.

Kevin
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Postby Michael Edwards » 09/22/04 07:27 PM

Kev: Poor discriptions, misplaced photos and fair to poor conditions never seem to deter you Houdinistas from bidding...and bidding...and bidding. I'm sure that it will indeed be an "event" and -- as Gabe notes -- there are some wonderful items among the chaff.
;)

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Postby magicam » 09/22/04 07:45 PM

Wow! And I thought there was only merely tons of Houdini material out there....

Like the handcuffs, the keys would make me nervous as well.

Got a chuckle out of the price of $1500-$2000 for the Great Lafayette Kings Theatre program. Even if it were an original, it's not worth it. Stacks of them surfaced several decades ago. and the ones which have 12 pages are most likely reproductions. Virtually all of the original ones only have 8 pages.

Love Hardeen's note in the Kellock book - "full of lies"

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Postby Kevin Connolly » 09/22/04 07:49 PM

Michael,

We keep bidding and bidding because we don't waste our time on sleights all day. It's the only time we exercise. ;) That and when we write the check. :o

Best Always,

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Postby Kevin Connolly » 10/13/04 01:42 PM

Has anyone received their catalog yet? Any new info?

Thanks,

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Postby Gary Hunt » 10/13/04 06:47 PM

Kevin,
Did you notice that they put the 460 lots on Ebay Live Auction? So it looks like this will be even more interesting. Check it out at:
http://search.liveauctions.ebay.com/ws/ ... dstoskip=0 . So the people on the floor will be bidding real time with people on the Internet. Now this is going to be fun to watch. May just have to have a Houdini Auction Party and hook up the computer to the HD-TV!! Better than Monday night football.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 10/13/04 08:17 PM

Gary,

I see they are up to 501, but I really couldn't tell what, if any, was added. I know they did any of the missing pictures.

I still see the ballpiont Houdini autograph and the rest of the other items mentioned.

19% is pretty stiff commission.

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Postby Guest » 10/29/04 12:19 AM

There is a major article in the New York Times about this very subject, and including the battle between Mr. Radner and the Outgamie museum. Look into it at

nytimes.com

You may have to be registered on nytimes.com to read it. However, registration is free.
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Postby Geno Munari » 10/29/04 09:12 AM

If you have ANY questions regarding the auction, please call Gary at 860-250-1115. He would love to answer any questions you might have and welcomes your insights.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 10/30/04 12:14 PM

Man! Who in the hell bought the page from the 1976 book, 100 Years Of Magic Posters, for $425.00? I can give you a great deal on the whole book.

Let the crying begin.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 10/30/04 01:04 PM

The phoney ballpoint photo just sold for $900! You can get one on Ebay right now for $9.95.

A real shame.
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Postby Michael Edwards » 10/30/04 05:15 PM

Well, that was certainly an interesting event. Here are the prices realized (without dealer's premium). Houdini must be smiling :D

http://cgi6.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?M ... =50&sort=8
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Postby Geno Munari » 10/30/04 08:07 PM

The auction was outstanding. There were many great buys and prices I could not believe. For instance, a Houdini letter fetched $10,000. A poster $55,000 and on and on. There was something for everyone. Items that should fetch $2500 sometimes went for $500, and items that should sell for 5$00 went for $5500. Great auction.
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Postby Pete Biro » 10/30/04 11:32 PM

Holey Cow... what was the gross drop?
Stay tooned.
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Postby Michael Edwards » 10/31/04 11:09 AM

Originally posted by Gabe Fajuri:
Don't the prices seem OOTW to you...Do you think anyone will pay $150,000+ for the "original" water torture cell?
Yep. :D
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Postby Pete Biro » 10/31/04 11:10 AM

So, Michael, did it come WITH water? And, where are you going to put it?

With shelves installed it would make a nice display case for your cups. :D
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 10/31/04 01:10 PM

It went for $345,000 with the vig, because the buyer could save on shipping. They deliver in town you know. ;)
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 11/01/04 06:43 AM

Thanks, but I was figuring entertainment tax in there too. You probably missed that in the fine print. No problem. :eek:
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Postby mehtas » 11/01/04 08:48 AM

Originally posted by Kevin Connolly:
Man! Who in the hell bought the page from the 1976 book, 100 Years Of Magic Posters, for $425.00? I can give you a great deal on the whole book.

Let the crying begin.
I've already started to ripp off the pages of 100years of posters book I have :)

Hard to believe some of the repros and non houdini stuff went for 3 or 4 figure sum.

What were they thinking of :confused: :confused:

Spare a thought for the guys who will later know what they bought was worth....
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Postby Guest » 11/01/04 12:58 PM

Ok I have a question. How many milk cans did Houdini have? I seen one for auction earlier this year, you have one in the Lund Collection and you have the one just sold. So how many?
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 11/01/04 01:36 PM

While we're asking, ask how many Chinese Water Torture Cells are out there. This way we can kill two birds with one stone.
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Postby mehtas » 11/01/04 03:55 PM

I guess they all use diffrent secrets . Houdini must have used them in diffrent shows to put off those hawk eyed spectators (or secret hunters)

Secrets in those days were good as gold so multiple methods were always advisable.

Just my guess :)

Who knows the truth . The way houdini handkuffs are popping up by the 100's .
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Postby magicam » 11/02/04 03:22 PM

Riddle me this: what use is a COA if the sale is "AS-IS"? Who pays when the buyer discovers he/she got a page from 100 Years of Magic Posters or some other "phony" item with a COA from Radner? Clay
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Postby Robert Allen » 11/02/04 04:37 PM

Presumably, it's certified as authenticly from this auction?
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Postby Guest » 11/03/04 04:55 PM

Hmm..Can't believe we don't have an answer yet to "how many houdini owned milk cans are there? and torture cells..
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 11/12/04 11:56 AM

Anyone else hear about $185,000 refund from the auction? I'm hearing some real horror stories from bidders etc.
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Postby magicam » 11/12/04 12:13 PM

Do tell what you can tell, Kevin!
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 11/12/04 12:18 PM

I hear the Cell was sold for $150,000, opening bid, after some behind the scenes wrangling. :o
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Postby Michael Edwards » 11/12/04 07:26 PM

Clay, Kevin:

The prices realized are now posted on the CRG site. This should be the link: http://www.crgauction.com/docs/Auction%20Results.PDF

I believe you will be able to read the full story on the auction in the January Genii. ;)

Jarrett:

It is not clear how many milk can escapes Houdini owned during his lifetime, though I can tell you that Hardeen gave two of them to Sid Radner. As for the Water Torture Cell, I believe that the January issue of Genii will have a rather detailed article on its history. ;) ;)

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Postby Kevin Connolly » 11/12/04 08:38 PM

Waiting for the other shoe to drop. :eek:
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Postby Michael Edwards » 12/24/04 11:01 AM

OK, Kevin, here's the story. The Water Torture Cell did indeed sell for $150,000 plus premium and Nevada sales tax...which was half the hammer price at the time of the auction.

Just prior to the sale, Sid Radner informed the auction house that he was raising the reserve on the Water Torture Cell to $300,000 and that if the new reserve was not met, he intended to donate the escape to a museum which specialized in Jewish history and culture...presumably the Center for Jewish History in New York City where the cell had been exhibited in the summer of 2002. However, this change in the reserve was not announced nor made public in any way. You will recall that the pre-auction estimate had been from $150,000 to $200,000.

The Conditions of Sale allowed the auctioneer to open the bidding on behalf of the seller and place subsequent bids up to the amount of the reserve and the auctioneer did so. He opened the bidding at $200,000. There was one phone bidder...and his successive bids were met with raises from the auctioneer until the amount reached the new reserve of $300,000. The phone bidder and most of the people in the room did not realize that the bidding was against the new reserve, not the museum. The hammer was brought down at $300,000 and most accounts of the auction highlighted this amount -- the highest amount ever bid for a piece of magic apparatus.

After the sale, the phone bidder asked the identity of the underbidder (which was a condition of his final offer). Informed that he had been bidding against a new reserve, he reminded the auctioneers that the Conditions of Sale clearly stated that the reserve was never to be higher than the low pre-auction estimate...in this case, $150,000. The seller and auction housed subsequently adhered to these conditions and the sale was consumated at $150,000 plus premium, sales tax, and presumably shipping.

The successful bidder was David Copperfield and the Water Torture Cell is now part of his collection. To see what else David bought...and to get a pretty detailed picture of the auction, the events that precipitated it, the controversy that surrounted it, and its final outcome, take a look at the January Genii (Volume 68, Number 1, pages 34-42) "Going, Going, Gone! The Sidney H. Radner Collection & The Great Houdini Auction." You might also find the rather lengthy sidebar on the myth and mystery of the Water Torture Cell of some interest. Let me know what you think.

Michael ;)
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Postby Guest » 12/28/04 04:39 PM

mmmm...michael, don't think you are right.
I was there. When the lot arrived, the auctioneer announced the Water Torture as follows:

"Now people we are not going to waste anytime with this one, we have a firm BID from a museum and we have to start it at $200,000"

No one mentioned a thing about reserves, Sid's arrangements or otherwise. After the sale a very upset buyer (DC) phoned me to ask for "my advise" .I related the situation per above and explained to him his rights.

So he proceeded accordingly! The rest is well known.

I was aware of the entire situation while in Vegas , a few hours after the auction but promised to keep it confidential until all became public.
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Postby Michael Edwards » 12/29/04 04:02 AM

Thanks, Mario. As I noted, you are quite right in that the auctioneer said nothing about the increased reserve and both the people in the room and David Copperfield on the phone were under the impression that a museum was actively bidding on the item. That impression, which was conveyed by the auctioneer, was certainly incorrect. David Copperfield, Sid Radner, and Bill Firestone (the President of the auction house and the individual who conducted the sale of this item) all confirmed the actual situation as outlined in the January issue of Genii.
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Postby John Smetana » 12/29/04 09:26 AM

An excellent article on the aution Michael..thanks


All the best,
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Postby Michael Edwards » 12/30/04 05:51 AM

Thank you, John. I'm glad you found it of interest. Happy holidays,

Michael
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Postby RickBelford » 01/19/05 01:11 PM

Michael,

I have read your article twice now on the Houdini Auction, and have enjoyed it greatly! I am not sure if I want to open up "this can of worms" or not, but in doing a Yahoo search to find out more about the Water Torture Cell, I read a very disturbing article. It was an article that was in Las Vegas Weekly by Kate Silver (link is http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/2003/12/11/upfront4.html) that insinuates that Mr. Radner was suing someone for making an unauthorized replica of the Water Torture Cell. Any truth to this article and what was the outcome of the lawsuit?

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Postby Michael Edwards » 01/19/05 01:35 PM

Thank you, Rick. Yes, there indeed has been some controversy about a reproduction that was made of the Water Torture Cell. The article is correct in who the players in this dispute are. I understand, however, that this replca was not an operational model, but rather designed as a unique piece of display furniture and is being used as a bookcase in the maker/owner's office. Sid Radner saw the situation differently.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/19/05 02:32 PM

The link isn't working properly, but if you go to http://lasvegasweekly.com and search on "Radner" you'll find it.
It's interesting to see how the reporter refers to "John Gaughan, a Houdini collector/repair man in California." This betrays the reporter's bias.
Note that this article is several years old, and Geno Munari and Sid Radner eventually had a falling out, which is why there is no Houdini Museum in Las Vegas and why everything was sold at auction a few months ago.
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