A Sale Worth Noting; Hollywood vs. Mosfilm

Ralph Taylor, Senior Director of Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary Department, said in a recent interview; “At Bonhams you can be innovative, and zig when everyone is zagging. It is crucial to create a distinct identity, but one that makes business sense.” The opening of the zigging-season (when everyone is zagging), seems to be the October 6 sale offering a complete set of 257 personal photographs by Soviet filmmaker Andrey Tarkowsky (1932 – 1986), aiming to collect at least £500.000 for Tarkowsky’s family by selling 257 intimate Polaroids that Tarkowsky shot in Italy and Russia prior to making his 1983 movie Nostalgia. The Polaroids are divided into 29 lots with estimates between £20.000 up to £37.000 per lot.

Excuse me, Andrey who? Oh well, for those who have never heard of the filmmaker Andrey Tarkowsky, it may be be reassuring that Bonhams department of Entertainment Memorabilia is the department that sold the piano from the 1947 movie Casablanca (on which Sam played “As time goes by”) for 3 million USD and the costume of the Cowardly Lion from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz for a similar amount.

Very true so, Russian cinema is not Oz and I and even hesitate to admit to be one of those weakhearted with a soft spot for Tarkowsky movies. What, however, really excites me about this sale is the bravado that Bonhams demonstrates. After succesfully zagging Hollywood, selling wonderful props such as Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket and Steve McQueen’s 1971 Racing. Overall, it is worth applauding that the London auctioneer is equally challenged by zigging film institutes and film museums around the globe, looking for the highest bidders for this rare set of low-profile memorabilia from the Mosfilm tradition of Moscow.

NOSTALGIA Before and After; A Collection of unique Polaroids by Andrew Tarkovsky; BONHAMS, 6 Oct 2016. London, New Bond Street. https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/23936

By Erik Paol, OTE European Associate, Amsterdam

For Further reading; https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/aug/16/andrei-tarkovsky-polaroid-photographs-auctioned-bonhams-solaris