| Sep 28, 2009 |
Bergman’s Tea Service, Desk Stir Bidding Frenzy at Swedish Sale (Bloomberg)
Boh staff
By Staff

By Niklas Magnusson

Ingmar Bergman’s writing desk and chair, wine glasses, tea set and other personal belongings sold today at auction for 6.8 million kronor ($973,344). The total for about 100 items, the first third of the famed director’s possessions being sold, was almost seven times their combined minimum asking price.

The minimum asking price for all 339 Bergman items was about 2 million kronor, according to the Bukowskis auction house in Stockholm. Interest in the auction exceeded Bukowskis’ expectation, leading the sale to go on longer than anticipated.

“Bidding in the auction room has been lively, with prices far ahead of the starting prices we had set,” Charlotte Bergstroem, a Bukowskis spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview from the auction today. “One understands what an internationally acclaimed person Bergman really was.”

In his will, Bergman requested that his house, furniture and personal belongings be sold and the proceeds distributed among his heirs.

“This is my wish and no discussion or emotional tumult must come as a result,” he wrote, according to Bukowskis. The director died on July 30, 2007, at the age of 89. He was buried on the Swedish island of Faaroe in the Baltic Sea, where he lived and worked for almost 40 years.

Four-Leaf Clover

Bergman’s writing desk, designed in 1951 by Carl Malmsten and sold with a dried four-leaf clover found in one of the drawers, sold for 160,000 kronor, compared with bidding range of 15,000 to 20,000 kronor. A pair of night tables scribbled with Bergman’s personal notes, sold for 340,000 kronor. The bidding range had been set at 20,000 to 30,000 kronor.

“While the starting prices are usually target prices based on where prices have ended up earlier, we were conservative this time as there were no reference points in many cases,” Bergstroem said. “We also felt it was good that the market was allowed to determine the rest of the price -- the value that is based on the fact that it was Bergman who owned these items.”

Other items on sale at the auction, which is still ongoing, include tables, chairs and beds, Mercedes-Benz cars, film projectors, awards, posters, glassware, china and sculptures as well as a set of chess pieces that Bukowskis said is likely to have been the ones used in Bergman’s film “The Seventh Seal.”

Chess-Playing Death

In the 1957 movie, Swedish actor Max von Sydow plays a medieval knight who returns home from the Crusades searching for God but instead finds a chess-playing Death. Bidding for the wood-and-plaster chess pieces, used in the film masterpiece, will start at between 10,000 and 15,000 kronor, according to Bukowskis.

During his career, Bergman earned a reputation for austere art-house films with recurring themes of art, faith and the meaning of life. Three of his movies won Academy Awards for best foreign-language film and one, “Fanny and Alexander” in 1982, received four Oscars. He directed more than 50 films, wrote scripts for another dozen and was responsible for 168 works for the stage, television and radio.

The deadline for bids for Bergman’s home passed on Aug. 20, with offers now being assessed. The main residence, designed in collaboration with the director himself, was completed in 1967. The oldest building is a farmhouse dating to 1854 and the estate also features a three-bedroom winter retreat called Aengen. Bergman used Faaroe as the location for many films, such as “The Passion of Anna” and “Scenes From a Marriage.”

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