The late German American duo Siegfried and Roy, famous for their magic shows co-starring lions and tigers, made a splash at auction this week with a nearly sold-out sale at Bonhams Los Angeles.
The “Masters of the Impossible” auction sold 480 of 481 lots for a total of $1.4 million, all set to benefit the Sarmoti Foundation, Siegfried and Roy’s personal charity.
“Auctions with entertainment provenance always resonate with buyers, collectors, and fans alike,” Helen Hall, director of popular culture at Bonhams, said in a statement.
Together, Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn owned a 100-acre Las Vegas estate named Little Bavaria, where they maintained separate homes among numerous buildings on the property, as well as their Jungle Palace mansion across the street from the Las Vegas Municipal Golf Course.
Their collections hit the auction block following the death of both men: 75-year-old Roy from COVID-19 in May 2020, and 81-year-old Siegfried from pancreatic cancer in January 2021.
The duo met working aboard a cruise ship in 1957, with Siegfried inviting Roy to partner on his magic shows. They hit on a winning formula when they introduced big cats to the act, bringing their groundbreaking form of entertainment to the Las Vegas strip in the 1960s.
Their long-running show, Siegfried and Roy at the Mirage, debuted in 1990, featuring glitzy costumes and snowy white lions and tigers. It was a hit, turning the duo into household names and reportedly bringing in $60 million a year.
But the campy spectacle nearly turned deadly in 2003, when a 600-pound tiger named Montecore got confused and bit Roy, who was suffering from a stroke, in the neck, dragging him off stage. The incident severed Roy’s spine, inflicting permanent injury. Miraculously, he was able to recover and hold a farewell performance with Siegfried for their official retirement in 2010.
The wide-ranging sale featured everything from a German barrel organ ($2,167) to 14 Russian religious icons (between $446.25 and $15,300) to a nine-piece leather luggage set from Michael Cromer ($5,100).
An emerald and diamond Cartier necklace, estimated at $60,000 to $100,000, was the one lot failed to sell, but a brownish-yellow diamond ring brought in $35,655 and a French Japanese Cloisonné gilt and patinated metal turtle-form clock (c. 1870–80) went for $21,675 against a high estimate of $15,000.
The sale also included Siegfried and Roy memorabilia, like a photo album of the duo with 65 snapshots dating from the 1960s through the 2000s. It fetched $22,950.
The original key to the Mirage, first used on November 22, 1989—a gift from casino owner and art collector Steve Wynn in 1995—was expected to be worth just $300 to $500, but sold for $12,750.
The art highlights included a bronze and granite Salvador Dalí statue of an elephant ($15,300) and a colorful rendition of the Mona Lisa by Pop artist Peter Max ($6,375). A Rembrandt van Rijn etching and drypoint, The Angel Departing from the Family of Tobias (1641) sold for $3,187.
There was lots of tiger art too, like a William “Schim” Schimmel oil on canvas of two tiger cubs perched atop the earth floating in space. It sold for $5,100. Abstract Tiger by Christian Riese Lassen also went for an impressive $11,475—a 1,639 percent increase of the high estimate of $700.
See more photos of the duo, their homes, and auctioned items below.
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