LONDON — London's first auction of erotic art, for adults only, drew a packed audience and bidders who mostly preferred to remain anonymous.
Bonham's auction house stopped short of offering plain brown wrappers for goods purchased, but it did check with Scotland Yard's vice squad before holding its "Sale of the Erotic Arts" on Thursday.
Buyers from throughout the world eyed an array of suggestively shaped ancient oil lamps, decorated chamber pots, books by the Marquis de Sade, loving cups, paintings and a Roman marble panel fragment.
Other items included a Japanese "pillow book" of explicit pictures given to wedding couples and miniature carvings showing lovers in athletic sexual positions.
Bonham's spokeswoman, Isobel Glenny, said the only complaint came from bidders who thought the erotica wasn't erotic enough.
A guard was posted at the door of the sales room in the Knightsbridge district to make sure no one under 21 came in.
Glenny said Scotland Yard "told us to use our common sense and exclude bestiality, the degradation of women or anything involving children. We did have some things like that, but we returned them to the owners."
The top-priced item was an 18th-Century Chinese porcelain teapot with lovers painted on it. It sold for $3,666.
In all, the sale fetched only $31,000 for 160 lots, but managing director Nicholas Bonham said, "we are very happy with that."
"I put nothing in the sale that would upset my mother," auctioneer Eric Knowles said.
"Mind you," he added, "I have a pretty broad-minded mother."