Why the world’s most sought-after stamp could raise $15M

That’s numerous postage.

The world’s most unique and expensive stamp is anticipated to fetch as much as $15 million at public sale on Tuesday. Sotheby’s New York will host the sale of the coveted British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, generally known as “the Mona Lisa of Philately,” owned by footwear tycoon Stuart Weitzman.

The shoe designer is ready to donate the proceeds to charity, opening up a brand new chapter in the historical past of the scrap of paper that’s 165 years outdated.

“We expect a substantial amount of funds from the sale,” Weitzman solely informed The Post, explaining that he’s “an avid collector of rare stamps.”

In 2014, he efficiently bid on the One-Cent Magenta for a report $9.48 million. In holding with a lot of its earlier patrons, he added a signature mark to the again.

“I drew a stiletto to memorialize my years of ownership,” he mentioned. The stamp additionally bears Weitzman’s initials.

The define of a single excessive heel seems subsequent to a mark by eccentric millionaire John du Pont. The chemical inheritor, portrayed in the 2014 movie “Foxcatcher,” purchased the stamp in 1980 for $935,000, some 30 years earlier than his loss of life throughout a jail sentence for the homicide of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz. Nobody is aware of whether or not du Pont anticipated what turned out to be an eye-popping funding. Its attraction rocketed amongst salivating philatelists. Their desires of possessing the stamp resulted in its worth growing exponentially over the subsequent decade and a half.

A Sotheby's employee holds the world's most famous and valuable stamp, the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta.
The British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp is held by a cautious Sotheby’s staffer.
AFP through Getty Images

The succession of homeowners is certainly fascinating, however Sotheby’s particular advisor Robert Scott, an knowledgeable in philately (the examine of stamps), mentioned the origins of the One-Cent Magenta are equally outstanding.

Revered amongst collectors as the solely certainly one of its variety, it was produced in 1856 in Guiana, the former British colony now referred to as Guyana, on a printer normally reserved for newspapers. The emergency run was approved after a supply of stamps didn’t materialize. Nearly all the stamps had been used to distribute copies of the native rag. Despite their magnificence, most had been discarded by the recipients.

Scott, referring to the sole octagon-shaped stamp which dodged the trash, mentioned: “From a distance, it looks like just a smudge of red.” But he identified that “up close and personal, it takes on many different shades of magenta with a certain patina.”

In 1873, it caught the consideration of 12-year-old Louis Vernon Vaughan as he cleaned out his uncle’s attic in Guyana. Soon after, in what fans time period the “worst stamp swap in history,” he offered it to Neil Ross McKinnon for six shillings – round $17 in at this time’s cash.

Eccentric billionaire Robert Du Pont escorted by police.
John du Pont, one-time proprietor of the One-Cent Magenta, is pictured after his arrest for homicide.
AFP through Getty Images

The treasure then bounced between wealthy philatelists, together with the exotically named Philipp de la Rénotière von Ferrary. The Austrian citizen was pressured to surrender the stamp, valued in 1922 at $35,000, when his assortment was seized by the French authorities as reparations for World War I.

Subsequent moneyed guardians ranged from New York material magnate Arthur Hind to Irwin Weinberg, the head of a collectors’ consortium. Hind regularly traveled with the One-Cent Magenta in a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. “He remarked that he no longer felt he owned the stamp, but it owned him,” Scott mentioned.

According to Scott, the 1-inch sq. piece of memorabilia reached legendary standing after its 1980 acquisition by du Pont. The fabulously rich recluse hid the stamp from prying eyes whereas reportedly treating it with disrespect, typically dealing with it with out gloves.

The back of the One-Cent Magenta showing markings by current owner Stuart Weitzman.
Owner Stuart Weitzman’s depiction of a stiletto heel is clearly seen on the again of the One-Cent Magenta. His initials are outstanding too.
Sotheby’s

“It disappeared from public view,” mentioned Scott, noting how the One-Cent Magenta is the solely 19th century stamp lacking from the British and Commonwealth Collection of Queen Elizabeth II, who has an estimated net worth of $500 million. Her grandfather, George V, tried to purchase it twice, however was thwarted on every try.

Now, after seven years belonging to Weitzman – principally spent on show at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington DC – it’s up for grabs once more.

In the weeks main as much as the June 8 public sale, the stamp has been saved in a darkened, climate-controlled room and guarded spherical the clock by safety employees.

The British Guiana One-Cent Magenta
The richly coloured One-Cent Magenta is described by specialists as “The Mona Lisa of Stamps.”
Sotheby’s

A grasp of discretion, Scott received’t touch upon events poised to fork over a forecasted $12 million to $15 million. Who is aware of if celeb philatelists like former French president Nicolas Sarkozy or Hollywood actor Patrick Dempsey will place a bid?

But the UK-born specialist can’t assist however ponder whether a beneficiant fan of the British monarchy may rise to the event. Perhaps they’ll try to full the priceless stamp assortment owned by the troubled House of Windsor. After all, it’s unlikely the more and more p.r.-conscious royals would present such extravagance themselves.

Scott quipped: “There might just be somebody out there who would like to make a donation to her majesty the queen.”

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