Steiff Bears Auction at Christies London Raises the Profile of Collectable Teddy Bears

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Published: 10th November 2010
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Steiff Bears went under the gavel at Christies last week as the London auction house hosted a huge auction of Steiff teddy bears and animals. The Kensington auction house is renowned for the most headline grabbing sales in the world; previous auctions have included pieces by Damien Hirst and artwork belonging to the collapsed investment bank, Lehman Brothers.

The Steiff collection belonged to a disgraced American hedge fund manager, currently awaiting sentencing for investment fraud. The sale of the extraordinary collection had been approved by receivers acting to recoup some of the illicity acquired fortune of the investment banker. It is thought that the items, collected over a period of 15 years, were purchased at a cost of around $3 million dollars (almost 1.9 million), which means that the sale, which raised 1.1 million, did not raise the total paid for the items individually.

850 lots included a total of 1300 Steiff teddy bears and animals. The toys were produced throughout the 20th century, with the more recent animals grouped together in lots with guide prices of several hundred pounds.

Individual lots expected to attract significant bids included a hot water bottle bear, a chimpanzee fireman and two rod-jointed bears. The star of the auction was a rare Steiff Harlequin Bear made from red and blue mohair. This highly sought after Steiff Bear was made as prototype in the 1920s and given to an employee who had been working for Steiff for over 40 years. Before the auction took place there was a possibility that this bear could become the most expensive teddy bear ever sold if it was to exceed the 110,000 fetched by Steiff 'Teddy Girl' sold in 1994. It was not to be however, as lot after lot sold at the low end of their estimates and the Harlequin bear fetched just under 37,000.

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