The Bergman Auction Update

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Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman’s Laterna Magica

A full list of items from Ingmar Bergman’s (whose film Passion of Anna screens in our 69 program in November) estate on auction can be found here

An account of the offering from the New Yorker

Word is in from our far-flung correspondent, Willing Davidson, formerly a colleague here on the editorial staff and now living in Stockholm, about what transpired at yesterday’s auction of Ingmar Bergman’s belongings:

Bukowskis, despite its dubious name, is probably the foremost Swedish auction house. It was packed yesterday, just overwhelmed with people in its quite small auction room. Viewing had been going on for the previous four days, and we had gone on Friday. The excitement came not only from seeing Bergman’s possessions all laid out, but also because the auctioneers had placed very low estimates on everything. So, as we wandered around, we thought it possible that we might get to take something home on Monday, like two stopwatches, estimate between two hundred to three hundred crowns, or thirty to forty dollars, or even this woodcut of the Seventh Seal, estimate between four to five hundred crowns, or fifty-five to seventy dollars. More eager previewers sat down at his two pianos and played some appropriately elegiac music.

They were even auctioning his two Mercedes—this one will be familiar to viewers of the documentary Bergman Island, when Bergman drives around his home island of Fårö in it.

Swedes, being shy, don’t excuse themselves when they push past you, so after getting our paddle, my girlfriend and I spent half an hour before the auction trying to stand our ground as the hordes swarmed the auction house. The first item was a print of Bergman’s famous magic lantern, estimated at three to four thousand crowns. The “klubbat pris,” or hammer price: twenty-seven thousand. And so it went. The actual magic lantern went for five hundred thousand crowns, and the chess set for a million. I left after half an hour, but Alison stayed for a while longer. Later, we watched it online as it went into its eighth hour. Our stopwatches were klubbed for eighty-two thousand crowns. Everyone wants a piece.

The total take was about $2.56 million. Christie’s took bids on his houses on Fårö during the summer, and their sale will be concluded soon; the Swedish government, which wished to turn one of them into the site of a cultural center devoted to Bergman, is not happy about it.

And this from the AP

Bergman items sold at auction in Sweden

By LOUISE NORDSTROM (AP)

STOCKHOLM — A chipped and incomplete chess set believed to have featured in one of Ingmar Bergman’s best known films fetched one of the highest bids at a special auction for the late director’s belongings, auction house officials said Tuesday.

The set, which had been valued at around 10,000-15,000 kronor ($1,430-$2,150), sold for 1 million kronor ($142,000), said Charlotte Bergstrom, a spokeswoman at Bukowskis in Stockholm. It is missing a white king and is believed to have been used in “The Seventh Seal,” one of Bergman’s most famous films.

“In one part of the film, Max von Sydow sweeps his mantle over the table and the (chess) pieces fall to the ground and you can see that the white king breaks into pieces,” Bergstrom said.

Bergstrom said the auction began Monday and lasted for more than nine hours, ending in the early hours of Tuesday and garnering a total of 17.9 million kronor ($2.6 million).

All 337 objects, including Bergman’s wastebasket, writing desk and Golden Globe awards, were sold. A red-painted, devil-shaped jumping jack — given to Bergman by his grandson Ola — was auctioned for 29,000 kronor ($4,100).

A wooden model of Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theater with a tiny model of the legendary director sitting inside it, scored the highest bid: 1.03 million kronor ($147,500). Bergman headed the theater for several years in the mid-1960s.

Bergstrom called the auction “historic,” saying that even though the hammer prices were expected to be higher than estimates, they still exceeded expectations. “And because it’s him, Ingmar Bergman, it inflates the prices a bit, of course.”

The proceeds will go to Bergman’s family, Bergstrom said.

In the four days the objects were showcased before the auction, Bukowskis received more than 8,000 visitors. The auction house’s Web site tallied more than 5,000 hits a day from 116 countries, Bergstrom said.

According to the auction house, Bergman insisted in his will that his assets be auctioned off to prevent them from being caught up in “some kind of emotional hullabaloo.”

Bergman died July 30 at age 89 in his home on the Baltic Sea islet of Faro. His films won numerous international awards, including best foreign film Oscars for “The Virgin Spring,” “Through a Glass Darkly” and “Fanny and Alexander.”

His 84-acre (34-hectare) Faro property is also up for sale in a process managed by Christie’s Great Estates in London.

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