Auction of books – Sothebys 20/11/03

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    >>If anybody has any questions about the operation and activities of the Foundaton, probably the best thing to do is contact them direct. At least this way you get the facts straight from the horse’s mouth

    We're not all in a position to be able to visit.

    I notice that Esther has been good enough in the past to correct rumours and misinformation on these boards, so I would appeal to her now to make a statement on this issue over print sales, Lenkiewicz's part in Fisher Mackensie and the like, so that this can be settled and the speculation stopped. 😀



    For many year I was fortunate to be allowed access to Roberts book collection. Most of the works that are being sold at auction were already in the collection many years before his death. It seems strange to me that so much money seems to have been lost in the developement of Roberts library. A short while before his death we had talked at length about the development of a reading room that would be open to the public. For the study of various works within Roberts collection. Plan’s had been created including a 60 foot table at the top of the Barbican building which was being purchased from the owners. Above this table was being placed a glass dome to light the room. During his life the council had come to an agreement with Robert and the original owner of the building had already agreed to sell the building including the market attachment in Southside Street. Robert was overjoyed that a long held dream was being fulfilled. Now after his death it seems that there is more interest in making money from this sincere gentleman than creating the legacy he had wished. It would break Roberts heart to see the desolation of his book collection. Yet this is what is happening whilst there is no forward momentum as far as the development of his cherished goals…


    billy budd
    Dave Goodwin wrote:
    ricky wrote:
    Buying Roberts prints was like buying a Lottery ticket. You knew that something at least was going to a good cause. Or was it?
    I've learned that the 'Moi' and 'Fiorella' prints were being held as security by the largest claimant against Robert's estate, so by selling these prints and putting the money into his hands it dramatically reduces his financial claim against the estate, which hopefully mean that fewer paintings will need to be sold by the executor.

    So yes, each one of these prints sold has a direct effect upon keeping Robert's legacy together.

    I understand that the largest claimant is Tom Symonds (about £300,000). Its commendable that Fisher Mackenzie is helping to reduce his financial claim by providing an outlet for the prints. Esther has stated that "any commercial help we give to the Foundation is non profit making.' However they are very expensive. Hopefully this does not mean that Fisher Mackenzie is taking a commission. Would Fisher Mackenzie be kind enough to confirm this?


    Auction raised…£554610.00,including premium.


    Site Admin

    Full details are now available on the Sotheby’s website (which actually shows the sale receipts as £595,572):


    Site Admin
    Plymouth Evening Herald wrote:
    Ancient books on witchcraft and the occult owned by the late Robert Lenkiewicz have sold at auction for nearly £596,000. Yesterday’s sale at Sotheby’s in London, entitled ‘Witchcraft and the Occult: Selected Books from the Collection of the late Robert Lenkiewicz’ saw bidders from across the globe bid for the 343 lots.

    Many of the lots sold for more than three times their estimated value with a top price on the day of £78,000 for the Jacobus Sprenger book 'Malleus Maleficarum' first edition dated 1487, which sold to a UK buyer. The sale was conducted on behalf of the executor of the late painter's will, who needs to settle outstanding debts, claims and costs against the artist's estate of between £1-2 million that have accrued following his death in August last year.

    The Lenkiewicz Foundation - which is trying to protect the painting and book collection and find a home for it - and the executor, decided to sell some of Lenkiewicz's vast collection of books in order to protect some of the more significant paintings.

    In September paintings and drawings by the painter made £781,140 when they went under the hammer at Sotheby's.

    Annie Hill Smith, chairman of the Lenkiewicz Foundation, today said she was sad to see the books sold, but added that it is all part of the process.

    "It is a way for the executor to raise money. A lot of people don't understand that. These sales are not benefiting the Lenkiewicz Foundation. It is a confusing and difficult business."

    Annie added that it would be up to the executor if another sale took place, but said that the foundation is hopeful of securing a grant from either the Heritage Lottery Fund or the European Regional Development Fund to try to secure the collections and premises for the remainder of the works

    Plymouth Evening Herald wrote:
    The collection of books owned by the late Plymouth artist Robert Lenkiewicz has raised nearly £600,000 at Sotheby's in London.

    The 343-piece collection, one of the biggest known archive of books on the subject of witchcraft, the occult and demonology, attracted hundreds of bidders.

    Charlotte Miller, specialist in Sotheby's books and manuscripts department said: "The sale was very well attended with a wide variety of bidders and many books reached several times their pre-sale estimates."

    She added that one of the most important books in the collection, is a first edition of the Malleus Maleficarum published in 1487, had achieved an auction record fetching £78,000 - nearly four times its expected sale price.

    Robert Lenkiewicz had lived in Plymouth for many years before his death on August 5 last year. Born in London, his parents were Jewish refugees from Germany and Poland. He started painting while in London, but then moved to Cornwall and finally Plymouth in the 1970s.

    He had a studio on the Barbican, and gained a reputation as a self-publicist, at ease equally with vagrants and among gentry.

    Among his spectacular collection auctioned yesterday was a 17th century spotter's guide to witches and demons, Saducismus Triumphatus,by Joseph Glanvill - written in an attempt to convince sceptics that ghosts and demons were real and present on this earth.

    The executor of Lenkiewicz's estate, solicitor Peter Walmsley, said: "The Lenkiewicz Foundation Trust asked me to sell part of his library that was left to them in his will, to raise funds to purchase some of the paintings."



    Out of idle interest did anyone on these boards attend the book auction?

    Did anyone buy any of the books? If so, which ones?


    Site Admin

    Just stumbled across an interesting overview of the sale at –

    Next up for Sotheby’s was a sale of Witchcraft and the Occult, books from the library of Robert Lenkiewicz, held on 20 November. Lenkiewicz is best known to the general public for embalming the body of his friend, a tramp known as Diogenes, and stuffing him away in a drawer; he was also a keen book collector, and this sale was one of the most interesting of the season. The books were more wide-ranging than the sale title implied, including many books from the alchemical and hermetic traditions, philosophy, and Church Fathers (I’m not sure that St. Augustine, Leibnitz, Locke, and Hobbes would like being classified under witchcraft and the occult). The crowded saleroom audience were largely unfamiliar to me, with few dealers present (notably Sokol, Finch, Pampiloni, and Maggs), and there was a wide spread of buyers. Many of the best items went to Sam Fogg, bidding on the telephone on behalf of a client. Amongst the highlights were: De Alchimia Opuscula, 1550, a compendium of texts, which sold to Pampiloni for a high £13,200; Fogg bought the First Edition of Hobbes’ Leviathan, a not particularly distinguished copy, for £10,800; a witchcraft classic, Molitoris’ De Lamiis et photonicis mulieribus, 1500, was another Fogg purchase at £13,200; the Greek editio princeps of Plato’s works, Aldus 1513, the Sparrow copy, defective at the end, made the same price; Ramelli’s Diverse et artificiose machine, 1588, the best 16th century work on hydraulics, sold for £10,800, quite modestly price but a bit of a misfit in this sale. The highest price was reserved for its most famous book, the First Edition of Sprenger’s legendary Malleus maleficarum, published in 1487, this sold for £78,000 (est. £15,000–£20,000). The sale fetched £595,572, a good result but really just a day in the life for Sotheby’s. This would have been a record sale at Bloomsbury Book Auctions who almost secured the library but had no outlet for the non-book items in the Lenkiewicz estate – maybe including the body of Diogenes; I remember something about attempts to have his body classified as an artwork.

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