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Tuesday 26 September 2017

Captain James Cook's 250-year-old waistcoat fails to sell at auction with million dollar price tag

Potential buyers can be seen near the display case containing a 250-year-old embroidered silk waistcoat that belonged to Captain James Cook on a mannequin at Aalders Auctions house in Sydney, Australia, March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Steven Saphore
Potential buyers can be seen near the display case containing a 250-year-old embroidered silk waistcoat that belonged to Captain James Cook on a mannequin at Aalders Auctions house in Sydney, Australia, March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Steven Saphore
A stain said to be from wine can be seen on a 250-year-old embroidered silk waistcoat that belonged to Captain James Cook, during a display at Aalders Auctions house in Sydney, Australia, March 22, 2017. Picture taken March 22, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray

A waistcoat owned by British explorer Captain James Cook, who claimed Australia for Britain in 1770, has failed to sell at auction, with bids far below its anticipated million dollar price tag, the auction house said on Monday.

The 250-year-old waistcoat was passed in at A$575,000 at Sunday's auction in Sydney, after being valued between A$800,000 and A$1.1m. Aalders Auctions said the highest bidder, a local, was now in negotiation with the owner.

"There have been a few Captain Cook items come up but probably nothing as significant as this," said Julian Aalders from Aalders Auctions.

The auctioneer said Cook's family kept the waistcoat in the United Kingdom after the explorer's death from a knife wound in Hawaii in 1779.

Julian Aalders from Aalders Auctions house adjusts a 250-year-old embroidered silk waistcoat that belonged to Captain James Cook on a mannequin during a display in Sydney, Australia, March 22, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
Julian Aalders from Aalders Auctions house adjusts a 250-year-old embroidered silk waistcoat that belonged to Captain James Cook on a mannequin during a display in Sydney, Australia, March 22, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray

In 1912 a British industrialist bought the waistcoat from an antique dealer and gave it to a prominent Sydney pianist, Ruby Rich, who had the garment altered to fit a woman, Aalders said. Unfortunately, the auctioneer said, Rich wore the garment to many social gatherings and spilt wine on it.

The auctioneer didn't disclose the identity of the seller, a private collector, who bought the garment from Rich's family in Sydney in 1981.

Reuters

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