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Auction From Burns Estate Nets $365,000

October 11, 1996|From Times staff and wire reports

Sotheby's one-day auction of items from the estate of entertainer George Burns exceeded expectations Thursday, bringing in more than $365,000 and attracting buyers such as comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

Seinfeld spent more than $18,000, including $12,650 for a pair of diamond-encrusted cuff links decorated with the initials GB. Officials at Sotheby's auction house estimated the actual value of the cuffs at $400 to $600.

"If George were here, he would have been amazed by the prices," said Burns' longtime agent and friend Irving Fein.

Burns died March 9, two months after his 100th birthday.

In addition to the cuff links, Seinfeld bought Burns' personal scrapbook from Harrah's Casino in Lake Tahoe, Nev., for $1,380; two of Burns' personal copies of the scripts of his stand-up acts, for $3,737 each; and a pair of gold cuff links, embossed with the initials GB, for $1,955, said Sotheby's spokeswoman Laura Maslon.

Sotheby's had estimated the value of the scrapbook at $50 to $75, the scripts at $150 to 500 each, and the cuff links at $300 to $400 each, Maslon said.

The biggest spender of the afternoon was Peter Planes, president of Royce Estate Buyers and a collector of cigars and cigar-related paraphernalia.

He spent $57,500 for a cigar humidor that looks like a 1930s radio cabinet, Maslon said. A plaque reads: "Presented to George Burns Cigar Smoker of The Year 1952 By the Cigar Institute of America."

"The bidders applauded after the humidor sold," Fein said. "It was very exciting."

Another humidor, estimated at $2,000 to $3,000, went for $8,625 to Richard Carleton Hacker, the author of "The Ultimate Cigar Book."

Hacker said that whenever he interviewed Burns, the comedian would always say, "Have a cigar, kid," and draw one from the humidor on his desk, Maslon said. On Thursday, Hacker bought that humidor.

Maslon said Hacker told Sotheby's: "Owning this humidor will be like having a cigar with George every day."

Among other items sold at the Beverly Hills auction house:

* A collection of the stogies that were Burns' trademark--$2,200.

* A monogrammed box containing poker chips--$2,600.

* A Grandma Moses painting--more than $13,000.

* Two pairs of wife Gracie Allen's cats-eye glasses--$1,600. The auction house had estimated bids on those would be about $500.

* An 18th-century ormolu-mounted Kingwood parquetry commode--more than $11,000.

* A director's chair with Burns' name on the back--more than $5,000.

Early estimates had placed the total take at $250,000 to $300,000. The actual total of $365,792 will benefit Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles-United Jewish Fund and the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

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