Superman didn't fly, Elvis wasn't king and Princess Diana's star power faded at an auction in New York where dozens of curios from the world of celebrity and entertainment failed to sell.
The auction at Guernsey's in Manhattan boasted an eclectic collection of memorabilia. The 104 lots ranged from a milk churn used by Houdini in one of his incredible escapes to the sunglasses of rocker Jim Morrison.
Those with grandiose tastes could bid for the Ten Commandments tablets brandished by Charlton Heston in the epic 1956 movie of the same name, a section of the Eiffel Tower staircase, and even a pair of nostrils from the Statue of Liberty.
Yet, unusually for a New York auction, virtually nothing sold. "I am a little beaten up right now," Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey's auction house, told
The flops included a supposedly irresistible Superman cape, a gold-and-diamond bracelet worn by Elvis, and a diamond necklace once belonging to the late Princess Diana, which went to auction with a price estimate of 1.5 to 2.5 million dollars.
"We tried to convince the sellers to be realistic in a tough economy," Ettinger said. "I think the reserve prices were very high."
Reserves are the base price that owners and auction houses agree on, in confidentiality. When no bids meeting that figure are made, the lot is withdrawn - usually a relatively rare event.
The biggest spender of the evening was US billionaire Stewart Rahr who snapped up the statuette from the classic movie The Maltese Falcon for 305,000 dollars.
Rahr's friend, the actor Leonardo di Caprio, was at the auction but did not bid from the floor.