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  • Man Ray chess set tops estimate by 117% at Christie's
  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • chessManRayset

Man Ray chess set tops estimate by 117% at Christie's

A silver chess set designed by the surrealist artist Man Ray has beaten its estimate at Christie's Style & Spirit auction, held on March 26 in London.

Man Ray chess set
The set was conceived in 1920, though was only realised in 2008



The set, numbered three in a limited edition of 10, sold for ?�32,500 ($49,300), rising above its ?�15,000 high estimate by 116.6%. It was first conceived by the dadaist in 1920, but was not actually realised until 2008.

Chess was a game much admired by the dadaists, particularly by Marcel Duchamp, who encouraged Man Ray to learn to play at the Marshall Chess Club in New York. The set incorporates traditional dada ideas by taking an object and presenting it in a different form.

For example, Man Ray uses the broken neck of a violin for the knight, a pyramid shape to represent the king and a conical shape for the queen.

The set was part of a larger European chess collection offered in the auction, which coincides with the World Chess Candidates Tournament in London (March 14-April 2).

A spectacular ivory set from Berhampur in India followed, selling for ?�28,750 ($43,758) - a 15% increase on the ?�25,000 estimate. Berhampur was established as a British barrack town in 1765 following the Battle of Plassey, and this is a fantastic example of the craftsmanship for which the town is known.

Our sister company, PFC Auctions, sold a set of Bobby Fischer's chess notes for $25,800 in September 2012.

  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • chessManRayset