Red Baron lands Malcolm Forbes’ model ship collection

Most of the items in the Forbes collection will be sold Jan. 29; other estates will be sold Jan. 30.


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Full-hull rigged builder's model of the twin-screw steamship the Orontes, 14 1/2 feet in length. Photo courtesy Red Baron

ATLANTA, Ga. – The staggering lifetime collection of ship models, important nautical art and maritime collectibles of the late publishing magnate Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990) will be sold the weekend of Jan. 29-30 by Red Baron, the premier auction house in the Southeast.  The Forbes collection will be sold on Jan. 29, 2011; other nautical items and estates will be offered Jan. 30.

“This is a rare opportunity to purchase items that were amassed over a lifetime by one of the world’s most avid collectors,” said Bob Brown of Red Baron, adding, “The collection includes the largest private fleet of ship models ever assembled. It is well known that Malcolm Forbes bought only the best, and we are bringing that opportunity to you, the discerning bidder.”

The auction will feature models, half models and working models of all types of ships; over 400 lots of original maritime oil paintings by artists such as Matisse, James G. Tyler, Walter Cichocki, C. Bloch, H. Maes, Cornelis de Wael and others; and spectacular examples of nautical memorabilia. The action will get underway at 11 a.m. on Jan. 29, and at 9 a.m. on Jan. 30 (EST).

Malcolm Forbes was a larger-than-life figure who owned Forbes Magazine and lived a lavish lifestyle. He was a dedicated sailor, embarking on grand voyages aboard his beloved Highlander yachts. He was also a collector, of fine art, Faberge eggs, hot air balloons, historical documents and Harley Davidson motorcycles (which he famously rode later in life). Many photos of these items can be seen in a book on Forbes’ life titled More Than I Dreamed: A Lifetime of Collecting. The book is a sweeping look at the man, his life and his many residences.

But it could be argued that Forbes loved sailing and nautical items most of all, since he spent so much time at sea. His around-the-world sailing trips were legendary, news-making events. So taken was he with maritime pursuits that he surrounded himself on land with items that reminded him of the sea. Some of the ship models from his collection include the following:

  • A full-hull rigged builder’s model of the British twin-screw steamship the Orontes, built by Vickers & Armstrong, Ltd., in Barrow, England and first launched in Feb. 1929. The model is solid wood with mostly metal detailing and is 14.5 feet in length.
  • A full-hull rigged builder’s model depicting the British twin-screw passenger liner the Rangitiki, built in 1929 by the John Brown & Co., Ltd. (Clydebank, Scotland) for the New Zealand Shipping Co., Ltd. The wood and metal model is twelve feet in length.
  • A full-hull rigged builder’s model of an unidentified trans-Atlantic ocean liner. The original craft was built (or at least planned) by Palmer’s Shipbuilding & Iron Co., Ltd., in Jarrow, England, and was 450 feet long. The model is 118 inches in length.
  • A full-hull rigged display model depicting an eight-oared shell, designed for racing and built to accommodate eight rowers and a coxswain. The model features sliding scats, outriggers, a rudder and eight pairs of oars. It is 5 inches tall by 62 inches wide.

An original Royal Yacht model depicting the sailing ship the Britannia, first launched in 1893. The model, constructed in 1937, measures 64 inches tall by 53 inches wide.

Works of art from Mr. Forbes’ extensive collection of maritime paintings include an oil on canvas portrait depicting a young sailor, by Phyllis Herfield (24 ½ inches high by 19 ½ inches wide); an English School oil on canvas depicting a steamship on rough seas (24 ½ inches high by 20 ½ inches wide); an oil on canvas rendering of The Sea by Texel, done by the artist Johannes Hilverdink and housed in a gilt frame (31 inches high by 42 inches wide); and an oil on canvas portrait of a rugged Newfoundland fisherman by Harry Ahn (37 inches high by 51 inches wide).   

Also slated to cross the block will be several impressive statues, to include an original bronze depiction of a harpooner, perched on a marble plinth, signed H. Graetner (31 inches high by 10 inches wide); an original diver’s helmet made by Siebe Gorman & Co., Submarine Engineers (London, serial #15367); and a pair of authentic metal and leather diving boots.

A buyer’s premium of 18.5 percent on top of the successfully bid price will be added, payable by the buyer as part of the total purchase price. All lots sold are subject to a 7 percent Georgia sales tax, unless a resale number is given. Terms of payment are cash, certified check or personal check with a bank letter. For a full color catalog ($35), please call (404) 252-3770.

Red Baron is always in the hunt for quality merchandise for future sales. If you have an item, estate or collection to be considered, you may call them directly, at (404) 252-3770 or via e-mail.

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More Images:

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Original Royal Yacht model depicting the Britannia (1893), made in 1937, 64 inches by 53 inches.
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Original diver's helmet by Siebe Gorman & Co., Submarine Engineers (London, Serial #15367).
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Original bronze statue of a harpooner, perched on a marble plinth, signed H. Graetner (31 inches tall).
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Original oil on canvas portrait of a Newfoundland fisherman by Harry Ahn (37 inches by 51 inches).
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Original oil on canvas rendering of a young sailor by Phyllis Herfield (24 1/2 inches by 19 1/2 inches).

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