Nelson Mandela Key Auction House Unlock Agreement

The manager of the New York auction house who planned to sell the key to Nelson Mandela’s prison cell next month told Page Six he may have found a solution to return the key to South Africa.

But he added that despite South Africa’s objections to the auction as a whole, “the sale is happening”.

As part of a January 28 sale, “Important Artifacts from the Life of Nelson Mandela,” Guernsey’s auction house planned to donate the key to the prison cell where Mandela was infamously held on Robben Island, before that he eventually becomes the first black in South Africa. President.

The planned sale of the key turned into a major controversy last week when a South African minister called for the auction to be canceled and said the key “belongs to the South African people”.

But Guernsey President Arlan Ettinger told us on Tuesday he was looking for a solution to appease the South African government – as well as Mandela’s family members who want to raise funds for a memorial garden and museum around the Mandela’s burial place via auction.

An upcoming auction of Nelson Mandela’s property includes a gift from Barack and Michelle Obama.

Ettinger told us: “We have already been contacted by people who think as we thought”, and that the sale of the key could be a “wonderful situation for someone to donate for the garden … this offer comes for us as if someone was reading our minds.

He said an anonymous collector reached out in the wake of the controversy to bid on the key, and that he would then donate the proceeds to the memorial, as well as return the key to South Africa.

An insider told us on Tuesday: “Guernsey has already received at least one offer from a collector willing to make a substantial donation to the [memorial garden] in exchange for handing over the key to South Africa. Ettinger asked South African authorities for a week to sort out the problem and explore options.

The key to Nelson Mandela’s former prison cell is at the center of a major controversy.
Jon Ball

The source added: “The January auction will continue with items from Mandela’s family and others, even though an agreement for the return of the key is made.”

Ettinger told us that the auction house is in the process of reaching “an agreement with the [South African] government to address this issue “and that” with or without the key, the auction will continue. “

He added on Tuesday, “We are doing our best to resolve this issue satisfactorily. It is a little premature to say … if [the key] would be in the auction, or someone is bidding ahead of the auction. But this, “Everyone wants to do the right thing.”

The auction lots also include original artwork by Nelson Mandela.
The auction lots also include original artwork signed by Nelson Mandela.

He pointed out that his auction house had previously made sales that included artifacts from the Malcolm X and Rosa Parks archives, with buyers including the New York Public Library.

The key is offered by Mandela’s former prison guard, who has become his close friend. Former guard Christo Brand has reportedly already agreed to part of the proceeds going to the memorial garden.

Other lots – sold by the Mandela family – include one of the leader’s colorful and iconic shirts, as well as gifts from former US Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, as well as signed artwork and a copy of the constitution. South African signed by Mandela.

A stationary bike and tennis racket from Mandela’s imprisonment are also on sale.

South Africa’s Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa previously said in a statement last week about the key auction: “It’s unfathomable for Guernsey, which is clearly aware the painful history of our country and the symbolism of the key, to consider selling the key at auction without any consultation with the South African government, South African heritage authorities and the Robben Island Museum. “

Mthethwa also said: “The key must be returned to its rightful owners with immediate effect and this auction must be halted,” and added that he was asking the authorities “for appropriate measures that must be taken to stop the sale to auction and secure the return of the key to South Africa.

One of Nelson Mandela's iconic shirts is also up for auction on January 28.
One of Nelson Mandela’s iconic shirts is also up for auction on January 28.
Francois Brun

A representative for the auction house said there was no legal reason to stop the auction, and Ettinger told us that “the sale is happening”.

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