2017 saw the auction industry bounce back after two years of decline. It seemed that each week saw another masterpiece consigned to the auction block and another record broken. However, the auction world is still waiting for its first big sale of 2018.
With iconic motorcycles up for grabs at Bonhams and rare artworks on the block in Arizona, could that change this week?
Here are some of the rare, expensive and unique items up for auction.
Signed Albert Einstein letter
Guide price: £2,500-£3,000
Despite a handwritten note by famed physicist Albert Einstein fetching $1.7m at auction last year, this hand-signed letter has been given a modest estimate of £3,000.
While this letter doesn’t offer the same level of insight as the theory on life note, Chaucer Covers & Auctions will be hoping that the well-preserved signature pushes the prices up at their Autograph Auction sale on Friday, 26 January.
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John Wayne’s Smith & Wesson pistols
Guide price: $10,000-$20,000
John Wayne might have lived his life in 20th century Los Angeles, but he still managed to become one of the most well-known cowboys in history. The star actor was the go-to lead in the Western genre, featuring in 142 motion pictures.
Famous for reaching towards his holster, Wayne’s 1932 Smith & Wesson pistols will undoubtedly have Western fans reaching for their wallets on Saturday, 27 January. Milestone Auctions will be selling the guns at their Historic Military & Firearms Event in Ohio.
Guide price: N/A
The United States Marshals Service is set to raise millions of dollars through the sale of bitcoins seized from criminals operating on the Dark Web.
A total of 3,813 bitcoins (worth $44.4m at the time of writing) will be auctioned off in blocks of 500 and 100 bitcoins.
Bidding will take place via email on Monday, 22 January, with the highest bidders confirmed later in the day.
1951 Vincent 998cc Black Lightning
Guide price: N/A
Bonhams’ The Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction will have a selection of history’s rarest motorcycles up for grabs in Nevada on Thursday, 25 January.
Among the rarities is this 1951 Vincent Black Lightning, which was once the fastest road vehicle in existence.
The auction house hasn’t set an estimate. However, some have tipped this bike to break a second record by becoming the most expensive motorbike sold at auction.
Signed 1977 U.S. Grand Prix program
Guide price: $3,000-$4,000
Signed by some of the motorsports stars of their era, this 1977 United States Grand Prix program will surely get Formula One fans’ hearts racing.
Among the signees is Niki Lauda, the Lewis Hamilton of his time, who went on to win his second Drivers’ Championship that year. This rare piece has also been signed by fellow world champion Jody Scheckter and Swedish racer Ronnie Peterson, who suffered a fatal crash during the following season.
The program will go under the hammer at Gotta Have It Collectibles’ Unique Historical, Sports, Pop Culture and Celebrity Auction on Monday, 22 January in New York.
Banksy – Balloon Girl print
Guide price: £15,000-£20,000
After first appearing in 2002, anonymous street artist Banksy brought back his Balloon Girl painting in 2015. Balloon Girl has since appeared in various forms based around major events, such as the Syrian refugee crisis and 2017 UK general election.
This has pushed the price of a Balloon Girl print up. Similar offerings have sold for five figures in recent years. Phillips expects this print, one of 600, to fetch a similar sum at their Evening & Day Editions auction in London on Thursday, 25 January.
Andy Warhol – You’re In
Guide price: $40,000-$50,000
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This may look like little more than a Coca-Cola bottle sprayed silver.
However, art collectors will recognise this as a rare piece by famed pop artist Andy Warhol. In total, Warhol made 100 of these signed sculptures.
Given how rarely they appear on the auction block, prices have reached upwards of $120,000 in the past.
Stanford Auctioneers will be hoping for a similar result at their Fine Art, Pop Art, Photographs auction in Arizona on Friday, 26 January.
Brave and Bold #29
Guide price: $100-$50,000
It might not be that highly coveted Action Comics #1, which introduced the comic book world to Superman. However, DC Comics’ crime-fighting super-group, the Justice League, should earn A Ok Auction Company a fair price at their The Estate of Dr. Robert Evans sale on Saturday, 27 January.
Published in 1960, long before they were the stars of the DC Universe, the Justice League had made just one prior appearance before starring in this issue of The Brave and the Bold.