Ken Klosterman’s world-famous collection of magicana cast a spell on collectors and conjured huge magical results, becoming the highest-grossing magic auction in history.
Part 1 of the record-breaking Salon de Magie on October 30 at Potter & Potter Auctions of Chicago brought in $1.96 million, and was also a white glove sale, with 100 percent of the 346 lots selling. It was also the auction house’s highest-grossing sale to date.
Filled with historically significant ephemera, books, and apparatus, the sale set records across the board. From Robert-Houdin’s Light and Heavy Chest to Harry Houdini memorabilia and more, this “museum down the mineshaft” was home to true relics of magic history. Highlights in every collecting category were part of this historic white glove sale, with many lots blowing past estimates and some by tens of thousands of dollars.
The star lot was the Light and Heavy Chest, France, circa 1844, that was owned and used by Jean-Eugéne Robert-Houdin, known as the “father of modern magic.” Estimated at $50,000-$100,000, 26 bids pushed the final price to $156,000. Potter & Potter said this is arguably the most historically significant conjuring prop of the modern era, constructed, devised, and performed by the magician who helped invent the way modern audiences regard magicians and their shows.
Other highlights from one of the most significant and unusual collections of magicana in private hands include Karl Germain’s Blooming Rose Bush, Cleveland, circa 1900, that sold for $132,000 – more than $100,000 above its estimate of $20,000-$30,000; a rare poster of Harry Houdini shown upside down in his famous water torture cell that sold for $112,500, which was tens of thousands more than its estimate of $30,000-$60,000; Stanley Jaks’ Book of Mysteries, circa 1936, and including miniature magic props, that sold for $96,000 against an estimate of $10,000-$15,000; Harry Houdini’s small silver-toned engraved belt buckle, circa 1920, that sold for $90,000 against an estimate of $5,000-$10,000.
“Ken Klosterman’s collection showcased how magicana could be appreciated and exhibited exquisitely, but without any pretense. Anyone who knew Ken knew that he wanted to share his collection – as he did with me, and so many others – to learn from and understand it better,” said Gabe Fajuri, Potter president and magic expert. “As a college student, exploring and cataloging the Salon de Magie trained me for a job I never knew I would have, all because of a shared passion.”
For complete auction results, visit Potter & Potter.