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.
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.