A new production line of fake antiquities in the Middle East was highlighted by the British Museum this week. It is aimed at private individuals with little or no knowledge of the originals.
Though not calculated to ease the minds of those contemplating bidding online for the first time the story is instructive and applies to all sales everywhere. When border officials at Heathrow examined two trunks from Bahrain being sent to a private UK address last summer they were found to be filled with objects that seemed to have originated in Ancient Mesopotamia.
The museum was called in and quickly established that not one of them was ancient. The clay tablets, amulets and animal pottery had all been fired in a kiln and not all the writing they were covered with made sense. It highlights what St John Simpson, assistant keeper at the Middle East department at the museum, described as a side of the trade in antiquities which is rarely — discussed there are more fakes in circulation than genuine articles. There are many more trunks brimful of fakes out there.
PLAYING THE BLUES
If you are interested in something a little bit more modern then how about Prince's 1984 custom-made "blue cloud" guitar. It became part of his iconography after featuring in Purple Rain. it comes up at Julien's Music Icons sale in Beverly Hills on June 19-20.
As well as Prince the sale will feature memorabilia relating to Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash, Jim Morrison, the Rollings Stones, Queen, David Bowie, The Police, Guns N'Roses, Bob Marley, Elton John, Phish, Whitney Houston and many more.
And the original Bob Dylan lyrics for his Blond on Blond album are included in Sotheby's English Literature, History, Children's Books and Illustrations sale which runs online until next Tuesday. They are estimated at £12,000-£15,000.