Tue, Dec 14, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Chaplin moustache, Ali G bling up for auction at Christie's


It would take any film buff about a nanosecond to identify the scruffy little scrap of black fluff, glued to a note apparently written in eyebrow pencil -- even without the dashing scrawled signature Charlie Chaplin.

The note was sent in 1946 to Maurice Bessy, who was steered toward a long life in film by seeing, when he was a child of eight, Chaplin's 1918 film Shoulder Arms.

Bessy, who died in 1993, went on to become a critic, screenplay author, artistic director of the Cannes film festival and the biographer of many stars, including Chaplin.

Chaplin showed his gratitude with a personal memento, the Little Tramp's toothbrush moustache, possibly the one he wore in Modern Times, since Bessy also owned his cane from that movie.

The moustache's value is estimated at up to ?5,000 (US$9,600), and the cane at up to ?12,000.

A film and entertainment auction at Christie's this week includes 50 lots from Bessy's extraordinary collection, together estimated at more than ?60,000.

The auction includes more recent objects from screen history, including James Bond's moon buggy from Diamonds Are Forever.

The moon buggy was designed by Ken Adam, who created most of the sets that gave the Bond movies their slightly camp glamor: it may never have reached the moon, but it did go around the world promoting the film. It was recently restored to its original condition by a private collector, and for the last 10 years has been on display at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. It is estimated to be worth ?30,000.

The sale comes up to date with three pieces being sold by Jason Alper, personal designer to the British satirist Ali G: buyers should beware, the Indahouse knuckleduster is more bling than carats -- despite the the fact it may fetch up to ?1,500.

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