Moth-eaten fake fur coat sells for record 20,400 after extraordinary bout of 'bidding fever' sweeps auction (that's 100 TIMES its estimate)
Austin Reed 'teddy' coat from 1934 was expected to fetch 200Estimate was far outstripped as two vintage
clothes loving men drove the price up during three minutes of frantic biddingMystery buyer, who wishes to remain anonymous, is described as 'competitive with very deep pockets'
19:42 GMT, 19 October 2012
Worth it This 1934 Austin Reed coat sold for 20,400 – 100 times its expected price
Even the auctioneer admits you could pick up something similar in a charity shop for under 50.
But this 'moth-eaten' 1934 men’s fake fur coat fetched a world record 20,400 – 100 times its expected price – at auction after an extraordinary bout of 'bidding fever' swept the sale room.
Unloved – and unworn – by its previous owner who was given it as a gift by his wife 20 years ago, the Austin Reed beige mohair plush 'teddy' coat was expected to fetch 200.
But the estimate was far outstripped as, to the astonishment of the auctioneer and the joy of the seller, two vintage clothes loving men drove the price up and up during three minutes of breath-taking bidding.
'It was bonkers,' said fashion specialist auctioneer Kerry Taylor, who sold the coat. 'I was absolutely astounded. But we had two bidders who like to win and neither of them wanted to back down.
'The bidding started at 200 and quickly reached 8,000. There was a lull while one of them had a think before it reached 12,000, then another lull before it went to 17,000.
'Everyone in the room was shocked and you could hear a pin drop. When I finally brought the gavel down there was stunned silence then everyone burst out laughing.
'There’s a lot of interest in vintage clothing at the moment, but I never expected anything like this.
'Every now and then you just get these flights of madness when bidding fever sets in. Common sense goes out the window and you have to prick yourself. I think there was probably a bit of machismo involved from the bidders too.'
Neither bidder attended the sale in London on Tuesday, bidding by phone instead. Details were released for the first time yesterday when the auctioneers declared it a world record. Buyer and seller both requested anonymity from the auctioneers.
All Miss Taylor would say of the mystery buyer is: 'He is competitive and has very deep pockets. And I hope he likes it – he has never seen it apart from in a photograph.
Moth eaten: The coat has visible holes and would have cost a couple of guineas – around 2.10 – when new
Bidding war: Two vintage clothes loving men drove the price up during three minutes at auction (posed by models)
'To be honest, it’s seen better days. It’s a bit moth-eaten and the leather is falling off the buckle. It’s the kind of thing you might find for 50 in a charity shop on a good day.’
British fashion retailer Austin Reed was founded in 1900 when it opened its first shop in London and is known for its menswear, although it began selling women’s’ clothes too in the 1980s. The upmarket chain now has over 70 retail outlets.
Sold! Both the auctioneer and seller were shocked by how much the 'moth-eaten' coat fetched
'Teddy' coats were all the rage in the 1930s when, despite the Depression, fashion was influenced by the escapist glamour of the 'golden age' of Hollywood.
Miss Taylor estimated the coat would have cost 'a couple of guineas' – or around 2.10 – when new.
The seller, from Cheshire, had bought it second-hand for about 40. She likes vintage clothing and hoped her to get her husband to start wearing some too, said Miss Taylor, but he 'absolutely refused and never put it on'.
It had been languishing in a wardrobe for the last two decades, the woman's by now grown-up sons having also refused to wear it.
Miss Taylor said the seller watched the auction live over the internet with members of her family who were 'jumping up and down' as the bidding rose.
'She is still in shock but is deliriously happy,' she added. 'She said it was a good job her husband hadn’t liked it.'
The final hammer price was 17,000. But with the auctioneers' commission, the total paid for the coat was 20,400. Thrown in with it in the same lot were two 1950s blazers and a red and white striped 1920s men's bathing suit.