The exceptional writing desk used by Bond villain Dr No in the 1962 film has emerged for sale on the antique and art portal 2Covet – with an asking price that matches its magnificence.
When decking out Dr Julius No’s Caribbean lair on Crab Key island the film’s props department acquired the genuine, century-old masterpiece to make it look more realistic. No’s other pieces in the film that starred Sean Connery included a portrait of the Duke of Wellington by Francisco Goya.
The desk was created by the great Toms and Luscombe company for the International Exhibition of 1862 that was held in London. It is seven and a half feet long and made in the Louis XIV style with opulence and grandeur its stand-out qualities. It has complex arabesque première-partie inlays on ebony and is richly dressed with bronze doré mounts of serpentine form, rising from strongly modelled swept cabriole legs. No expense was spared during its creation which includes three drawers and a writing top of Moroccan leather.
It is being offered on the 2Covet site by Butchoff, the well-known London antique dealers – a family business in its third generation. The price is to be negotiated but it will take a large six-figure sum to secure the heavyweight item.
James Butchoff said: “The International Exhibition was a chance for makers to show off things of the very finest quality. It’s likely that Toms and Luscombe made this piece for the exhibition and they were awarded a medal for their design and workmanship. There was even a photograph of the desk taken at the exhibition that was reproduced in the Illustrated London News.”
“After the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851 these types of events became popular and were held across the world. We specialise in exhibition pieces and this is a unique and stunning item of furniture which was made in London in the French style. It is a work of art in itself but of course has a practical purpose as a writing bureau. Inside a drawer is a label from a props supplies company from the time it was used in the Dr No film.”
“It might seem astonishing that the filmmakers went to the lengths of sourcing this item, which was then 100 years old, to decorate the home of Dr No, but we do get loan requests from filmmakers for some of our other antiques. The décor used in this first James Bond film has entered popular culture, and symbolises the opulence, luxury and glamour of 1960s’ cold war-era spy films.”
“We acquired it through the trade and expect very high net worth individuals, serious collectors and institutions to be interested. And the market is worldwide.”
Dr No was the first Bond film and it’s now estimated that a quarter of the world’s population has seen at least one film from the franchise.
With this desk having played a role in that first film, it is arguably one of the valuable pieces of Bond-related items that has ever been offered.