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Christies pulls cartoon auction due to hate laws

An early cartoon (1903) by Henry Mayo Bateman will not be auctioned off by Christies after a Jewish amateur antiques dealer complained. The cartoon depicts a man with bearded Jewish man with a skull-cap with talon-like fingers and a tail. The auction house consulted with Scotland yard to see if the auction would violate a 2006 Religious Hatred Act.

The complainant, an amateur art collector who did not want to be named, said: “I was thumbing through the catalogue when I came across this drawing.

“It looked like it had come out of the pages of Der St”urmer (the virulently anti-Semitic Nazi publication). I found it utterly nauseating that Christies would include this seriously as a lot for sale or than anyone would want to pay money for it.”

A spokeswoman for Christie’s said: “After discussion with the vendor, the item was withdrawn from sale.”

As repulsive as the cartoon may be to some, I can’t help to look at it as a period piece that has some historical merit and Christies should be free to auction it. If the offended collector is offended, he shouldn’t buy it.

Community Comments

#1 Tom Pappalardo
December/3/2010
@ 10:09 am

I agree with you. Crap like that needs to be preserved, displayed in the proper context, and discussed. And old things, especially controversial ones, are always going to have a dollar value attached to them.

#2 Mike Peterson
December/3/2010
@ 10:13 am

So I guess a first edition of Mein Kampf should be burned. Oh, wait … isn’t bookburning part of this whole deal???

#3 Ben Carlsen
December/3/2010
@ 1:13 pm

For some people, history does not exist.

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