A magical trove of Ricky Jay ephemera hits auction block

NEW YORK -- Conjurers and cheats, hustlers. pranksters. jokesters. posturers. pretenders. sideshow showmen. armless calligraphers. mechanical marvels.

A magical trove of Ricky Jay ephemera hits auction block

NEW YORK -- Conjurers and cheats, hustlers. pranksters. jokesters. posturers. pretenders. sideshow showmen. armless calligraphers. mechanical marvels.

These were the things that Ricky Jay, a 72-year-old sleight of hand artist, card shark, author and actor, was interested in. He died in 2018 at the age of 72. He left behind many rare books, posters and broadsides, which he used to honor those who had gone before him.

After Jay's widow, Emmy-winning producer Chrisann Verges turned them over, almost 2,000 of the more than 10,000 pieces found in his Beverly Hill home will now be available for bid at an unusual Sotheby's auction.

Selby Kiffer was Sotheby's senior international specialist for books and manuscripts. He visited Verges in California to select the items they wanted for their Ricky Jay Collection.

Kiffer stated that "it's really just a collection of collections" before the live auction, which began Wednesday. "The challenge was finding an institution that was not only interested in magic, but also circus, not just in books, but also posters, apparatus, and all the elements of popular entertainment.

Sotheby's divided the collection into 634 lots and estimates that the collection will fetch between $2.2 million and $3.2 million. They are looking for bidders from Jay's fans, magicians far away, and art lovers who want to decorate their walls. There are many options.

Jay considers Harry Houdini an ever-present obligation. Jay was more close to Max Malini, a magician from the early 20th century. An advertisement for Malini's appearance in King's Theatre, New York features a round portrait, medals on one shoulder and highlighting performances before six heads. It dates back to 1916 and is one of two copies known. It's estimated to sell for $15,000-20,000.

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