Bergman items sold at auction in Sweden

September 29, 2009 12:07:49 PM PDT
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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