A magic story. The Ingmar Bergman Sale

On Monday September 28th Bukowskis Auctioneers in Stockholm organised a sale of the estate of Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish director of theatre and film. Prices were thrilling. A wooden model of the Dramatic  Theatre in Stockholm was sold at 1 025 000 Sw Kroner, a set of 31 chess pieces reached 1 000 000 kroner and the Lapiere Magic Lantern, called Laterna Magica in his biography, ended at 500 000 kroner.


38. A wooden model of the Royal Dramatic Theatre given to Ingmar Bergman in 1993. After a battle it was sold at 1 025 000 kroner (20-30 000 est)

The saleroom at Bukowskis Auctioneers in central Stockholm was absolutely packed with collectors and with people who wanted a piece of memory of the world famous film director. I have never seen so many cameras and film teams in this room during the 25 years that I have worked professionally with the art market. The Ingmar Bergman Auction will be the seventh seal of a magic story.

A jumping jack in the shape of a devil, Bergmans favorite symbol, and given to him by his grandson, caught my eye for its intense colours and I decided to go for it. The estimate was after all only 300 kroner or about $42. There are 7 kroner to the dollar today. So I raised my arm into the bidding. I held on until 10 000 kroner or 1425 dollars, when I finally gave up.The bidding went on and up to the price of 29 000 kroner.

A lithograph of Bergmans idol August Strindberg by Edvard Munch in 1896 was sold at 540 000 kroner or 77 000 dollars against estimate 350-450 000 kroner. That was probbly the best bargain of the sale, given its low premium over ordinary market price.

Munch litograph of August Strindberg sold att 540 000 kroner.

A feature of several Bergman movies was an English 18th Century mahogany long case clock made by Francis Redstall. The hammer fell at 310 000 kroner (20-25 000 est) or 44 000 dollars.

An Irving Penn photograph portraying Ingmar Bergman and signed by the famous photographer in 1964, when Penn was in Sweden for Look Magazine and portrayed the Swedish King Gustav Adolf VI and operasinger Birgit Nilsson among others, reached 520 000 kroner (200-300 000 est).

Photograph by Irving Penn reached 520 000 kroner.

Two white ordinary bedside tables with Bergmans personal notes on the top fetched 340 000 kroner (20-30 000 est), his red Mercedes Geländewagen from 1980 sold at 210 000 kroner (50-60 000 est), and a Groatian Steinweg grand piano made it at 440 000 kroner (10-20 000 est) or 62 000 dollars. Quite impressive.

We were now reaching midnight in Stockholm. The brave bidders were not crowding the room any longer and the camera teams were reduced to a handful. Prices though, carried on as before. After all, America was awake.

The Cinematographica department concluded this memorable auction sale. The Lapierre Magic Lantern that Ingmar Bergman describes in his autobiography Laterna Magica is a centre piece for Bergman admirers. To young Ingmars disappointment, his brother was given a Cinematograph as a Christmas gift whwn they were boys. Ingmar immediately traded it against 100 tin soldiers on  the following day. Together with the magic lantern these pieces were of greatest importance in the Ingmar Bergman childhood.

A Lapierre Magic Lantern Paris 1870. Tin, petroleum burner and one glass pictue. Price 500 000 kroner (20-30 000).

The final score at this magic sale that the tired audience waited for was the game of chess, or rather the 31 chess pieces. One was missing. The white king was gone. The pieces were most likely used in the film The seventh seal made in 1957. The hammer did not fall until last resistance was beaten which occured with the bid 1 000 000 kroner or 142 000 dollars.

31 chess pieces probably featured in "The Seventh Seal" movie sold at 1 million Sw. Kroner or $142 000 giving $4580 a piece.