From John Lennon’s cufflinks to Charlie Chaplin’s violin and John Wayne’s Stetson — 5 lots with famous former owners, from our 14 September Out of the Ordinary sale
When Charlie Chaplin’s film The Vagabond was released in 1917, the actor was at the height of his career. Born into poverty, he had risen to become one of the highest paid people in the world — negotiating a salary that amounted to $670,000 annually.
The Vagabond continued Chaplin’s winning formula of high drama mixed with comedy, featuring a bar-room brawl, abduction by gypsies, and a volatile love triangle. Integral to Chaplin’s performance was a violin — played both in the opening bar scene, and in an attempt to woo his love interest.
Video: Charlie Chaplin in The Vagabond (1916)
Thought to have been played in The Vagabond, Chaplin’s famous violin was 'left' to his chauffeur by the entertainer’s wife, and comes to Christie’s together with the Hollywood legend’s trademark cravat.
In 1964 The Beatles toured the world for the first time, performing to screaming fans from Hong Kong to Copenhagen. That same year they travelled to the US, leading what came to be known as the ‘British Invasion’ of the American pop market alongside bands such as the Kinks, The Rolling Stones and The Who.
Video: The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964
While in New York the band gave a live performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, attracting a record audience of 73 million — or 60 per cent of all US television viewers. Indeed, the broadcast was so popular that it was credited with a dip in crime across the country, which hit its lowest recorded level in 50 years.
Reputedly, their appearance was commemorated with a pair of custom-made cufflinks, engraved and given to each member of the band. Inscribed J.W.L., for John Winston Lennon, this pair was acquired by the vendor from a charity auction in 1975, at which the singer himself was present.
Widely considered to be one of the most influential films in the history of cinema, Lawrence of Arabia was released in 1962, gaining critical acclaim for its epic depiction of the life of British author, archaeologist, military officer and diplomat T. E. Lawrence.
As played by actor Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia became an iconic figure, instantly recognisable by his keffiyeh — a Middle Eastern headdress secured with an agal band. T. E. Lawrence had adopted the attire during his involvement in the Arab Revolt of World War I, joining Arab troops in desert raids in support of British strategy.
Made in red silk with gold thread, this headscarf belonged to T. E. Lawrence, and is offered alongside an agal given by his friend, Wing Commander Sydney Smith, who arranged Lawrence’s covert disembarkation from the S.S. Rajputana upon his return to England from India in 1929. This particular headscarf was exhibited at the Imperial War Museum.
Academy Award-winner John Wayne starred in 142 films during his career, of which a remarkable 83 were Westerns. His most popular titles included El Dorado, The Shootist, Stagecoach and True Grit.
An indispensable addition to the wardrobe of any self-respecting cowboy, the Stetson became a costume staple for Wayne, evoking real-life legends of the West such as Buffalo Bill and Wild Bill Hickock.
This Stetson belonged to Wayne, who gifted it to its previous owner during a reception at Republic Pictures in London in February 1951. A letter from the owner recording the meeting recalled the moment of spontaneous generosity: ‘I remarked that I liked his Stetson, which he was carrying. Without hesitation he placed it on my head and said, “You like it, you can have it.” ’
Robert Franklin Stroud was one of the United States’ most notorious criminals who, improbably, came to be a respected ornithologist — earning the nickname Birdman of Alcatraz.
Sentenced to life imprisonment, Stroud gained a reputation as one of the most dangerous inmates in Kansas’s Leavenworth Penitentiary after killing a guard in 1916. Birds, however, inspired in him an unlikely desire to nurture: in 1920 he discovered a nest of three injured sparrows in the prison yard, and raised them to adulthood.
Inmates of Leavenworth were allowed to purchase canaries and, over the course of his sentence, Stroud raised nearly 300, releasing two books on the subject that came to be respected as valuable additions to studies in avian pathology.
Despite his nickname, when Stroud was later transferred to Alcatraz, his birds were taken away from him. Predominantly kept in solitary confinement, he would occasionally play chess with one of the guards. This chess set, hand-drawn by Stroud, comes with a copy of the Atlas of Avian Anatomy inscribed ‘Property of Robert Stroud’.
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS, FRIC (1925-2013). A Jaguar XJ8 armoured LWB saloon.* Estimate: £15,000-25,000. This lot is offered in the Out of the Ordinary sale on 14 September at Christie's South Kensington. *The vehicle is not sold as a means of transport and no promise is made that the vehicle is of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose or roadworthy. Christie’s makes no representation as to the accuracy of ‘mileage’ or odometer readings. If the successful buyer subsequently decides to use the vehicle as a means of transport, he/she is responsible for all tests and repairs and any other legally required formalities that are necessary to convert this vehicle from a collector’s item to a roadworthy vehicle.
This Jaguar saloon is the last official car allocated to the late Margaret Thatcher by the Government Car Service (a division of the Department for Transport), and was also used to transport former Prime Minister David Cameron to Downing Street from Buckingham Palace following his election in 2010.
For the security conscious, the vehicle includes an in-car telephone, under-floor Kevlar protection, bullet-resistant borosilicate glazing and tyres with run-flat capability. The built-in DVD players, meanwhile, are perfect for passengers with a short attention span.