Chaotic history: Another copy of Dostoevsky’s Demons sold for the price of a new Skoda

auctioned copy "demons" indeed it can be considered unique, unique and thus valuable.  Photo: auction house "12th chair"

The auctioned copy of “Demons” can indeed be considered unique, one-of-a-kind and accordingly valued. Photo: auction house “12th Chair”

On November 9, the “12th Chair” auction house sold the “only volume” of Dostoevsky Obsessed. An anonymous buyer gave two million two hundred rubles for the book at a starting price of 550 thousand. But such wild money is nothing compared to the auction of 2016. At that time, the last volume of “Demons” was already being sold. And he went under the hammer for 3.4 million rubles. (For this money it was possible to buy not only a cooler car, but also a whole apartment in the Moscow region).

– Stop, what a demonAh, the reader will ask. – Are you selling the same volume?

No, in 2016 another copy of Possessed was being sold at another auction house. And then he was considered the only one.

Detective with “Demons”

Generally, bibliophiles considered “Demons” to be the most expensive book in the Soviet Union. The first volume was published in 1935 by the Academy publishing house, but the government did not like the book for its criticism of socialism, so it was cut into noodles at the signal distribution stage. Since then, every self-respecting collector dreams of finding even one salvaged specimen.

In 2016 there was a “sensation”. The valuable book was found and put up for auction at the Literary Fund auction house.

“Until now, no collector has not only held it in their hands, but generally could not say for sure whether it exists,” he said. head of the auction house “Literary Fund” Sergey Burmistrov.

Experts speculated that someone from the editorial office removed the book before the destruction.

The find became a real sensation. The starting price was set at 2.5 million rubles (this is despite the fact that usually the price of a book published by the Academy rarely exceeds 5 thousand rubles). To celebrate, they believed that the rarity would go for at least five million, but in the end, 3.4 million turned out to be a good price … for not the only specimen, as it turned out.

Who tricked “Demons”?

Literally a few weeks after the memorable auction, a Moscow pensioner turned to the auction house. After hearing the news about Demons, the 66-year-old checked the bookshelf and – wow – found the same book.

The auctioneers could not believe their eyes, and the guest told that once, in the 90s, he I accidentally bought “Demons” in the bookstores near the “Lenin” library.. They asked up to 100 rubles for the book. The buyer was in doubt for a long time, asking where the second volume was. (He did not know that there was no second volume. Destroying the circulation of the first volume, the Academy publishing house simply did not release the second book). In the same spring, new auctions were held and a copy of the watchful pensioner was sold for 2.1 million rubles. Meanwhile, the sensation was already bursting at the seams. Soon, Oryol bibliophile Vladimir Matveev appeared in the media, in whose collection “Demons” were also discovered. Copies were found in both the RSL and the Litmuseum … And a year later, a copy of “Demons” put up for auction was not sold at all.

Where are the bastards from?

It is still not very clear what it was. The auction house insisted that the journalists were to blame: they heard wrongly, did not understand and in all materials gave a rare specimen as the only one. Media workers assured that they heard everything correctly and accused the auction house of creating artificial sensations.

As usual, the truth was somewhere in the middle.

– Apparently several copies of “Imps” were saved, – said collector Vladimir Matveev.

Moreover, the book remains rare: experts suspect that no more than ten “extant copies” exist.

Dostoevsky covered a naked Chaliapin

Considering the mistakes of its colleagues, the “12th” chair auction house did not inflate the sensation of these auctions. (We suspect that a deliberately rare lot was overshadowed by Chaliapin’s personal effects: they put in a stereo picture of Fyodor Chaliapin without pants. These cards, as you might guess, distracted the press).

Meanwhile, the auctioned copy of “Demons” can indeed be considered unique, one-of-a-kind and thus valuable.

– This is a signal copy from the library of the famous collector and writer Ilya Silberstein – he said expert from the auction house Ekaterina Kuhto.

Of all the surviving copies, these “Demons” are the best preserved. And on the first pages there is also an inscription from Silberstein. In blue on white it says: “This edition was delayed, unpublished and then destroyed. This specimen is very rare, it has been preserved because it was flagged.

Photo: auction house "12th chair"

Photo: auction house “12th Chair”

In principle, there can also be several instances of a signal. But until the second one is found, even from the Zilbermann collection, and even with a confirming inscription, we can assume that the buyer was very lucky. He really got the right book and quite cheaply.


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