Well, no. I was there early, a very Russian crowd. There were about 100 chairs which quickly filled and 10 minutes before the sale Sothebys decided to remove a partition wall and open the adjoining room. They then put out another 200/300 chairs and still loads of people stood at the back. The place was packed. There were about 40 Sothebys staff also doing telephone bidding on top of the bids which the auctioneer had from people who had put in bids before the auction. It was quite chaotic.
I did get to bid for some cufflinks but was outbid unfortunately, it was quite a terrifying experience! The shame of it all, and I may be being harsh here, is that it seemed most people were interested in the intrinsic value of items, especially the Faberge items, where I was actually interested in the Imperial Russian aspect, as any of us from this Forum would be. There were about 10 bidders who between them bought most items (4 were telephone bidders), of the whole crowd of a good few hundred people only very few were bidding.
The cigarette case that the lovely Sothebys' ladies let me hold on Friday went almost £800,000 (taking into account all the sale charges payable), I read it is the most expensive Faberge cigarette case sold to date.
There was one particular pair of cufflinks I had my eye on but they went for way out of my price range. I was pretty miffed when they were sold and it wasn't to me!
The last two lots in the sale were the two pillowcases in which the jewels had been smuggled out of Russia. Their estimated sale price was around £200-300 so I was definitely going for those. However, one sold for around £5,000 and one for £4,000, it was astonishing. They told me the sale would last just over an hour, in reality it went on for 3 1/2 hours, the bidding was so intense. I wasn't actually far out with my thinking that most jewellery items would go for around 10 times more than their estimates. One pair of cufflinks estimated sale price of £3-5,000 went for over £100,000 though! A guy sitting next to me bought a couple of things.
One guy who was sitting by me bought something (I didn't see what, the bidding was all over the place) and went off to collect it, bringing it back in a Sothbys carrier bag which he casually dropped into another bag he had between his feet. I thought "I hope you appreciate that you've just bought a piece of history and that you cherish it accordingly".
I kept thinking that the items had been all together for over 90 years but now they were all going off to different places, most probably a good percentage never to be heard of again, it made me feel very sad. It was such a shame that it couldn't be kept all together. I was also thinking that GDMP ended her days in (relative) poverty whilst now 90 years later her descendants have had a surprise very large lottery win! I felt very priviledged to have been able to see the items beforehand, to have handled a few, to be present at the sale and to bid. Just goes to show that even after all these years the Russian Imperial Family that we, in this Forum in particular, know so much about still have a few secrets to reveal to surprise us from time to time, good for them.
Maybe one day...