Fine art valuers, advisors & brokers since 1972



Summer 2014

The subject of provenance has been referred to in these newsletters before but its significance does not lessen - a bit like celebrity culture, it doesn’t go away and thank heavens as its effect can give a material increase in the value of your possessions.

We were recently favoured with instructions to value the chattels of the late Wing Commander Kenneth Horatio Wallis, the celebrated Norfolk aviator, for probate. A much loved and admired man born into aviation he spent a lot of his life after being a bomber pilot in the last war designing and building gyrocopters. He not only built these machines but established a number of world records flying them - speed, altitude and distance.

A memorial event was held in his honour at Old Buckenham aerodrome on a glorious day late last year and thousands attended demonstrating the enormous following he had. It’s unlikely any of his chattels would come to market but if they did there would be many who would want to buy a piece of his interesting life thus raising values.

The Wing Commander’s collection of flying machines have been left in Trust and are presently at the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden Hertfordshire. Among the collection are two versions called Little Nellie. This will ring a bell with many readers as Little Nellie played a major role in the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice. One version, flown by Ken Wallis as a stunt double for Sean Connery, the other as a studio prop. We have never been asked to value something as unusual in forty odd years so it was a challenge.

All Bond memorabilia attracts a world-wide interest, there are avid collectors everywhere but finding like-for-like sales is impossible. Yes, props from other films have been sold, a Lotus body shell used in The Spy Who Loved Me came up at auction last year and sold in excess of £600,000 - the gear lever knob operating the Aston Martin ejector seat in Goldfinger sold for £40,000 - but what is a gyrocopter worth? The truth is no one knows or will know until it is sold and that will not happen so the value can only be an educated guess - it will be interesting to see how HMRC react to our valuation but, it’s clear that the combined provenance of Ken Wallis and James Bond would make an enormous difference to its value.


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