Soviet spy gadgets to go under hammer in Beverly Hills
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, July 18, 2024

Soviet spy gadgets to go under hammer in Beverly Hills
A Soviet WW2 era Officers Belt and Buckle is displayed during an auction preview for "The Cold War Relics Auction - Featuring the KGB Espionage Museum Collection" at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, California on February 8, 2021. Measuring 45 1/2 inches, the belt and buckle are estimated at $100-200. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP.

by Laurent Banguet

BEVERLY HILLS (AFP).- Cyanide-filled fake teeth and cigarette packs concealing cameras are among the Soviet spy gadgets going under the hammer at a Beverly Hills auction this week.

Many retro espionage devices in the sale by US-based Julien's Auctions -- known for Hollywood and pop culture memorabilia -- would not be out of place in a classic James Bond movie, including microphones hidden within pens, ashtrays and porcelain plates.

"The people that actually created these things were the pioneers of miniaturization," said director of gallery operations Kody Frederick.

"Everybody now carries a camera, everybody now has a microphone," but many of the auction's spy gadgets hail from an era when cell phones were "as big as six bricks," Frederick told AFP.

Miniature cameras fitted inside women's handbags, belt buckles, shoebrushes, birdboxes, signet rings and ties -- and used by real secret agents -- are all going on the block.

"People are looking to get their hands on really unique, different pieces from a time when digital didn't exist and analog was the way of life," Frederick added.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, many of the items were discarded in Eastern Europe and eventually made their way to New York's short-lived KGB museum, which opened in January 2019 but closed last year due to the pandemic.

Among those for sale this Saturday, both on-site in California and via the internet, are a fake tooth containing deadly cyanide expected to fetch up to $1,200.

"The tooth was designed to shatter when bitten a certain way so that captured agents could end their own lives when necessary to avoid torture or the release of compromising information," explains the auction catalog.

Deadly umbrella

The collection includes a replica of the "Bulgarian umbrella" used in 1978 in London to fatally poison Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in one particularly infamous Cold War episode.

It is estimated at between $3,000 and $5,000.

But other initially announced items including a lipstick tube and a pen designed to fire bullets had to be withdrawn due to California's gun laws.

Spy enthusiasts will have to content themselves with clandestine devices used to store sensitive microfilm or other documents, including cufflinks, high-heeled shoes, hollowed-out coins... and even a "rectal concealment capsule."

Alongside the double-agent gadgets, Cold War relics for sale will include Che Guevara's 1942 school report card, and letters signed by him and fellow Communist revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.

One Castro missive contains plans to infiltrate Havana, and is predicted to draw bids up to $1,500.

Further objects relate to the US-Soviet space race, such as NASA spaceship designs, vintage astronaut equipment and archive film stock including footage of the low-gravity testing of "various fecal and urine collection devices."

© Agence France-Presse

Today's News

February 10, 2021

Emma Amos embodied intersectionality in her art

Director of SFMOMA steps down

Frick Madison to open March 18, 2021

Eli Wilner & Company announces 2021 fully-funded frame restoration grant opportunity for museums

The sinking of a bust surfaces a debate over Denmark's past

Mary Wilson, an original member of the Supremes, dies at 76

Hindman Auctions establishes new Detroit office & appoints Pam Iacobelli as Business Development Director

Soviet spy gadgets to go under hammer in Beverly Hills

Former Christie's and Sotheby's auctioneer launches mobile-first digital auction app

French far-right mayor reopens museums, defying Covid closure

'Cyrano' and 'Tin Drum' screenwriter Carriere dies at 89

Robert L. Herbert, 91, dies; Saw impressionism with a fresh eye

S. Clay Wilson, taboo-breaking underground cartoonist, dies at 79

Shapero Rare Books launch new Islamic department led by Roxana Kashani

New project launched to engage youth in arts and culture across the UK

Renowned director removed from top Moscow theatre

Anne Feeney, fierce and tireless protest singer, dies at 69

FSC names endowed chair to further strengthen ties between Polk Museum of Art, local arts community

Pérez Art Museum Miami raises over $1.4 million at Art + Soul

Thames & Hudson is to publish 'Napoleon's Plunder: The Theft of Veronese's Feast' by Cynthia Salzman

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art opens a survey exhibition of the artist Kathy Goodell

Online exhibition features prints by four female artists

What's a dance theater without an audience?

Enrico David's first solo show at Gió Marconi opens in Milan

9 Qualities to Have as A Real Estate Agent

4 Ways Online Coaching is Better Than Traditional Coaching

3 Awesome Reasons to Go On a Fishing Charter

The endless spin: how casinos make you play over and over

What Makes Custom Soap Boxes So Special

The Best Movies 2020 - Reviewed by Polish TV company Users

Some principles of recovery

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful