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Russell Crowe auctions off film memorabilia

Apr 09,2018
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CANBERRA, Australia - A 128-year-old Italian violin that Russell Crowe learned to play in a few months before he starred in the 19th century war drama “Master and Commander” stole the show among movie memorabilia on offer at the Oscar-winning actor’s auction on Saturday.

The rare instrument by Leandro Bislach sold for 135,000 Australian dollars ($104,000), the highest price for movie-related offerings among 227 lots up for sale in Sydney as part of the Australia-based New Zealander’s divorce settlement.

More surprisingly, a costume that Crowe wore in the same 2003 movie wasn’t far behind, raking in 115,000 Australian dollars.

While the violin was close to the top of Sotheby Australia’s valuation, the winning bid for character Captain Jack Aubrey’s dress uniform exceeded the auctioneer’s hopes by 80,000 Australian dollars.

The violin’s price was only exceeded by a painting from Crowe’s extensive collection by Australian artist Brett Whiteley, “Moreton Bay Fig and Palms,” which sold for 190,000 Australian dollars.

The auction, titled “The Art of Divorce,” took place on the actor’s 54th birthday and the anniversary of his wedding to singer Danielle Spencer in 2003.

A cheerful Crowe made an appearance after Sydney actress-singer Alisa Nasteski sang “Happy Birthday” and the crowd of bidders and spectators - some in formal wear, others wearing sports team-colored beanies - gave him three cheers.

“G’day folks, how’re you doing?” Crowe said to the crowd. “Are you having a little bit of fun? It’s exciting, isn’t it? So it’s been a lot of fun putting it together for you.”

Immediately afterward, the violin - which Crowe described as “very dear to my heart” - became the 31st item to go under the hammer.

Crowe tweeted after the five-hour auction that he had earned 3.7 million Australian dollars, with potential sales worth 350,000 Australian dollars still under negotiation. AP