Crucifixion Art No Longer Commands Auction Prices

Paintings and sculptures of what may be the most iconic scene in the history of art — the crucifixion of Jesus — are no longer commanding the auction prices they once did.

While it’s common for individual works to occasionally sell for less than they are worth, consider:

  • In January, a late 14th-century Florentine painting of Jesus on the cross estimated between $80,000 and $120,000 sold at Sotheby’s for $86,500.
  • An Italian Crucifixion from the same period, estimated between $100,000 and $150,000, sold for $110,500 at the same auction.
  • The previous December, Sotheby’s London sold a mid-16th century Netherlandish Crucifixion sculpture estimated at $31,500 to $47,000 for about $27,500.

Even images of Crucifixions by established masters can be purchased on the cheap, said Joaneath Spicer, curator of Renaissance and baroque art at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Spicer hasn’t purchased Crucifixions for the museum in some time.

In part, she said, Christian art has become the victim of its own success.

“If I want more Crucifixion bronzes, there are some in storage that are quite nice,” she said.

But there are other cultural factors that may be contributing to the declining sales prices. One of them may be changing worship styles that rely more on words and music and less on visual images. A bigger one may be an unwillingness to openly and publicly display one’s religious commitments…

The Huffington Post has the rest.



Einstein’s Letter Questioning God Goes Up for Auction

The private letter expressing his views on God and religion will go up for auction Monday on eBay.

From studying slices of his brilliant brain to probing profound physics theories, scientists and enthusiasts alike have long been spellbound by Albert Einstein. Now, an auction is offering the world a peek at Einstein’s thoughts on what may be humanity’s most profound question: the existence of God.

The private letter written by Einstein expressing his views on God and religion will go up for auction Monday (Oct. 8) on eBay. In the letter, he calls belief in religion and God “pretty childish” and ridicules the idea that the Jews are a chosen people.

“This is the most historic and significant piece we have listed on eBay,” Eric Gazin, president of Auction Cause, the agency managing the sale, told LiveScience in an email. “We are excited to offer a person or organization an opportunity to own perhaps one of the most intriguing 20th-century documents in existence. This personal letter from Einstein represents the nexus of science, theology, reason and culture.”

Einstein handwrote the letter in German to Jewish philosopher Eric B. Gutkind on Jan. 3, 1954, a year before Einstein’s death. The letter was a response to Gutkind’s book “Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt” (1952, H. Schuman; 1st edition).

In part of his letter, Einstein writes, “For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them,” as translated from German by Joan Stambaugh. (Religious Mysteries: 8 Alleged Relics of Jesus)…

The “God” letter goes on sale Oct. 8, with an opening bid of $3 million. Anyone interested (with the money to spare) can make an eBay bid here.



Elvis Presley’s Bible Sells for £59,000

A bible which once belonged to Elvis Presley and contains his handwritten notes and thoughts has sold for £59,000 at an auction in England.

The Telegraph reports:

The bible, given to the singer on his first Christmas at his home in Graceland in 1957, was bought by an American man based in Britain, Omega Auctions said on its website.

The religious book, used by Presley until his death on Aug 16, 1977, was expected to fetch around 25,000 pounds but went for more than double its value.

But a pair of Presley’s unwashed and soiled underpants, worn underneath his famous white jumpsuit during a 1977 concert, went unsold.

Bids for the underwear reached 5,000 pounds, but failed to meet the £7,000 reserve price.

Some of the singer’s other personal items sold at the auction on Saturday included used cufflinks, a gold pendant chain/necklace and black Flagg Brothers shoes.

The entire Elvis collection, owned by a single British collector, went for more than 100,000 pounds at Omega Auctions in Cheshire, north England.



Bible Belonging to Elvis Goes on Auction

The BBC:

A bible which once belonged to Elvis Presley is expected to fetch more than £20,000 when it is auctioned in Greater Manchester next month.

The book was given to the legendary singer by his Uncle Vester and Aunt Clettes for his first Christmas at his Graceland home in 1957.

Its 1,600 pages contain annotations by Presley, who died on 16 August 1977.

One note reads: “To judge a man by his weakest link or deed is like judging the power of the ocean by one wave.”

The bible, embossed in gold on a leather cover, is among more than 100 lots of Elvis memorabilia to go on sale at Omega Auctions in Stockport on 8 September.

The collection is being sold on behalf of a British Elvis collector and marks the 35th anniversary of “The King’s” death.

Auctioneer Paul Fairweather said: “With much of the memorabilia in the collection having never previously been seen in the market, we are expecting significant interest from Elvis fans and collectors worldwide.”


Benedictines to Sell Church Treasures worth £100,000

The Catholic Herald reports on this sad sale:

About £100,000 worth of treasures from St Augustine’s Abbey in Kent are to be sold at auction next week.

The objects being put up for sale include church plate, chalices – including a Charles I chalice made in 1633 and an Arts and Crafts chalice worth £13,000 to £15,000 – as well as reliquaries and a 19th-century monstrance.

The treasures are being sold by Dominic Winter auctioneers after the remaining Benedictine monks at the abbey decided to move to a smaller friary in Chilworth, near Farnham in Surrey.

Priestly bloggers Fr Mildew and Fr Ray Blake have criticised the sale, saying more effort should have been made to keep the holy objects for use in liturgy.

Fr Blake, parish priest at St Mary Magdalene, Brighton, said that St Michael’s Abbey at Farnborough, Hampshire – another Benedictine monastery – were considering trying to acquire “as many of these items as possible”.

A spokesman for the abbey declined to comment…

You can find out more here.



Australian Women Offers her Children on eBay

Australian police are investigating a woman who entertained bids to buy her two children after she posted them for sale on eBay.

The Telegraph reports:

The woman, from Geelong in Victoria, was investigated by police after placing an auction item along with an extensive sales pitch and photographs of her son and daughter – both under the age of 10.

Several people placed bids on the children.

Police contacted eBay after receiving a call about the listing late last week. The site took the page down and assisted police to track down the woman. She told police the sale was a joke.

Victorian police said they accepted it was a joke and the woman would not be charged, but expressed concerns about the bidders in the auction.

“She said the page was created as a joke, but what worries us is the people bidding on the auction,” a police official told the Herald Sun newspaper. “Who knows who these people are. They could be pedophiles or anyone. It’s extremely disturbing.”

Police referred the case to the state’s department of human services, which is conducting a separate investigation.

“We need to get to the bottom of why she did this,” a department spokesperson said. “This action could attract the attention of the wrong sort of people, whether it was a joke or not, and the family need to understand the risks and receive advice around that.

An eBay spokesman said the case showed the risks of acting illegally on the site.

“It demonstrates that anyone posting anything illegal on our site is extremely foolish,” he said.