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Elton John World News: Auction House Cheers Elton

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EJ Furnishings Set a Record

Wednesday 8 February 2006 @ 18:33 - GMT

Four antique chairs which briefly belonged to Elton have been auctioned in Cape Town for R110 000 - more than twice what they were expected to fetch.

An unnamed telephone bidder from Johannesburg snapped up the set of four chairs after a furious battle.

Other bidders, at the Old Mutual Conference Centre at Kirstenbosch, dropped out at around the R50 000 mark but it was clear that for the mystery man money was no object.

International collectors mingled with Cape Town's top art dealers at the Sotheby's event, as the lots, mostly fine antique furniture and paintings, went at a rate of more than one a minute. A total of one hundred lots went in an hour.

Sir Elton's pieces, dating back to 1905 from the Arts and Crafts movement, were part of the eclectic Elton John Collection auctioned by Sotheby's in London in 1988. The original buyer, who paid
R40 000 for them, brought them to his South African house but then decided to sell them again.

Auctioneer Stephan Weltz joked that the chairs had "just about kept up with inflation". Weltz and Sotheby's had estimated that the chairs would sell for between R35 000 to R50 000. "But we're always cautious," he said.

The furniture seemed to set the tone for an evening of extravagance, with South African paintings selling for record sums, including Maggie Laubser's Shepherd in Blue Hat, which sold for R340 000, three times the pre-sale estimate.

"South Africans are sick of buying property now," said Weltz. "Now they're buying things to put in their houses!"